Saturday, June 23, 2012
"I know nothing," teased the soft-spoken writer as a rapt audience edged forward in their seats and hung on every word.
Aaron Sorkin (creator of West Wing) was holding court at a screening of the 1st segment of his HBO series (Newsroom) slated to broadcast tomorrow night to American TV audiences.
"I just want to entertain people," he stressed for the record.
After noting his latest project was shooting at Sunset-Gower Studios, he pointed out that was where the Monkees first taped their TV Sitcom.
A plague on the wall outside inspired his goal for the project which is?
To have a good time.
"I mean that," he vowed.
In a nutshell, the talented visionary described "Newsroom" as a Don Quixote-style "swashbuckler" story set against an unusual backdrop.
"Everything is in the can," he boasted.
"It's a ten-hour story with three acts. What you're about to see tonight is the prologue," he explained in so many words.
Ultimately, Sorkin promised to treat the audience to a romantic experience.
"You'll hear that word - romantic - a lot tonight."
It was not only that, but a memorable evening, too.
Fans felt pretty lucky to have been able to squeeze in the door of the packed house to catch one of the highlight events of a hectic week at the LA Film Festival.
In some respects - the high-profile screening signalled a landmark turning-point in the industry - where a partnership of a Film Festival with a reputable TV cable outlet amounted to a merging (and mixing) of two mediums.
Sorkin - who many consider a "creative genius" - downplayed his own talent, however.
In fact, the talented visionary preferred to give kudos to the actors, director, and his Executive Producer.
"Jeff Daniels raised the bar," he gushed.
For example, he explained that one day he spied Jeff going-over his lines on a location shoot - at which point - he trotted over to offer up some advice to the insightful actor.
After all, they were shooting a long difficult scene, with a lot of dialogue that day.
"Jeff just stared up at me and began to recite his lines backwards," he vividly recalled.
No problem, there.
"On the set, actors stumble around as they mumble their lines. It looks like a meth ward," he joked.
When it came to the chain of command, he explained it this way.
"There are two EP's (Executive Producers) on the show."
"I am just an honorary one," he kidded, as the audience roared beyond the floodlights.
Mr. Sorkin was pretty forthcoming when it came to questions about the process of writing, too.
"I go into a room and work alone. Of course, there are a lot of tutorials. I do a lot of research, after all."
When an interviewer asked Sorkin if the opening scene - where Jeff Daniel's character "goes off" - was his version of a "Howard Beal moment" (Network) he was quite adamant that it was not.
"Network was a dark cynical view of the news. This is not."
By the way, at one point during the Q & A, I experienced a surreal moment.
For a second, Mr. Sorkin suddenly appeared to be quite familiar to me for some inexplicable reason (his unique accent, his boyish looks, his mannerisms).
Then, it hit me.
A hint of Matt Damon came shining through!
For one bizarre moment, I imagined that it was the actor Matt Damon - and not Sorkin - that was articulating his creative thoughts on the podium last night.
One day, maybe, eh?
As for the show itself, I found it quite "entertaining".
The first week's episode focuses on the BP oil disaster in 2010.
Two other segments will focus on "Immigration" news events that have unfolded in recent days and the "Tea Party".
In response to one question about casting, Sorkin noted he'd never use a real news person for the series.
"You won't see Brian Williams pop his head in the door and say hello!"
Apparently, Sorkin did consider Chris Matthews early on, but decided against!
"It usually doesn't feel real," he confessed.
For some bizarre reason, News Anchors have difficulty portraying themselves on TV Shows and in feature films.
They often come across as caricatures of themselves.
"We will be using real news clips, however, when appropriate."
Other tidbits of information will be revealed in my upcoming review of the show.