Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO drama The Newsroom follows the inner workings of a fictional cable network trying to challenge America’s hyperpartisan 24/7 news culture. It’s a typical Sorkin drama, complete with fast-paced dialogue, witty scenes and a strong ensemble cast.
So why a newsroom?
“It suits my style,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I like writing about heroes [who] don’t wear capes or disguises. You feel like, ‘Gee, this looks like the real world and feels like the real world — why can’t that be the real world?’ ”
In Sorkin’s latest fictional world, Jeff Daniels stars as anchorman Will McAvoy, who tackles hard-hitting news stories and calls out those who don’t tell the truth. The show follows McAvoy but also pays close attention to the bookers, producers and editors who work behind the scenes to get their nightly broadcast ready for air.
Before writing the show, Sorkin spent two days on the set of Countdown with Keith Olbermann to get a sense of how a newsroom works. While there, he observed producers getting ready to cover the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and got an idea for his own show.
“I realized I could set the show in the recent past,” he says. “My big worry was making up the news — writing fictional news — because it was just going to take us too far away from reality. … But [setting the show in the recent past] became the gift that kept on giving. Because you have the fun of the audience knowing more than the characters. … I know that this device has bothered some people who think that I’m leveraging hindsight into a way to make my characters stronger. That wasn’t the idea.”
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