Monday, June 25, 2012
The Newsroom...Aaron Sorkin's talky, intelligent fast-paced drama potential hit! Jeff Daniels superb!
On Friday night excited tickeholders crept to the edge of their plush seats at the Regal Theatre to catch Aaron Sorkin’s latest offering - “The Newsroom” - up-close and front-center.
Although the drama (starring likable Jeff Daniels) is a 10-hour series slated to run on HBO (the season opener was just broadcast last night on Sunday June 24th) Sorkin fans were treated to a sneak peek at the LA Film Festival due to a special arrangement with the cable network.
After the screening, Aaron Sorkin – who some consider a creative genius - stressed for the record that it was his express intention to entertain the masses.
In the event you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, "The Newsroom" is an insightful inside-look at breaking-news stories on a fictitious network by the name of ACN Cable News.
In the 1st segment – which Sorkin described as the prologue – the talented writer (and honorary Executive Producer) focused on the BP oil spill tragedy and did not disappoint. For some, the preachy tone may have been a turn-off, but I expect the high drama that unfolded lured others in, no problem.
It was like sitting down to a good mystery, folks!
The spanking new HBO project has all the elements necessary to be a surefire hit such as top-notch writing, a handsome cast, great direction, and - of course - a dollop or two of high drama.
On occasion, Sorkin put the spotlight on "style" to get his points across to the audience in the Q & A session after the screening.
For instance, I was inclined to take umbrage with the fast-talking dialogue and lightning-rapid-pace of the opening scenes.
Sorkin explained that the actors were not nervous or rushed in the opener, but rather, following his direction.
"When I was a kid, characters in movies – and adults around me – talked smart and fast," he recalled in so many words.
“I couldn’t do that,” he alleged with a sheepish look on his face.
I doubt that very much (Aaron is always downplaying his talent and ability after all) but – it makes good copy - eh?
In the first few minutes of the segment the audience is introduced to the main character - Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) - a news anchor going through a meltdown similar to the one that “Norman Beal” suffered through in "Network".
Daniels is perfectly cast in a role where he manages to get under the skin of the character in a seamless natural performance that works well here.
After a perfunctory effort to set the stage, "Newsroom" suddenly jumps forward to a time frame a few months later where McAvoy becomes embroiled in a struggle for power once the carpet has been pulled out from under him by upper-level management.
For example, behind-his-back his boss (played with perfect pitch by Sam Waterston) sent his production team packing, and in their place, installed a former Executive Producer (lover?) and her loyal newsies to run his "radically-new" Nightly News Hour.
The brass were inclined to transform McAvoy’s image which – until now – had been compared to that of a vanilla-flavored “Jay Leno” out to please and garner ratings without offending anyone in their comfy armchairs at home across America.
It is not until McKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) strolls in the door, that the well-written newsroom drama shifts into gear, however. At this juncture, the fast-paced storyline unfolds in a gripping and vastly entertaining way.
In a nutshell, "Newsroom" is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the high-pressure world of the nightly news arena - and its intrigues - with a few personal twists tossed into the mix to give it a human touch.
Though a bit over-the-top – melodramatic, at times – the characters will obviously find their stride in coming weeks.
3 ½ Stars!