Drama, USA, 2012Synopsis
"The Newsroom"- "We Just Decided To" - June 24, 2012Welcome to Aaron Sorkin's fast-paced new drama set in the exciting world of 24-hour cable news.The series opens with star anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) onstage at a university event with a couple of political pundits and a moderator. The liberal and conservative pundits are yelling at each other over him as the moderator and students asks questions. He seems glib, weary, and bored with all the yelling and familiar talking points. He also seems distracted by a woman in the audience who at first looks like one person but when he looks again, resembles another. When a young, blonde woman steps to the microphone to ask each person why America is the greatest country in the world the liberal pundit answers diversity and opportunity, the conservative says freedom and freedom and Will answers the New York Jets. The moderator pushes him for a real answer. When he looks into the audience again he sees the woman who is now holding a notepad that says "It's not, but it could be." Will then goes off on a rant about how America isn't the greatest country in the world unless you want to look at ways it's number one like number of incarerated prisoners or people who believe in angels. He calls conservatives crazy and liberals losers and craps on the girl who asked the question to boot by just letting it all hang out. Afterwards, backstage, he acts confused, asking what he just did. The pundits wonder what is wrong with him, especially because he has always played it "safe" - never having taken a side or having done anything to risk his rise to fame.The moment, of course, goes viral and Will tries to blame it on vertigo medicine instead of the fact that he was finally just speaking his mind.After a forced tropical vacation-- which he apparently spent with Erin Andrews-- Will returns to his job at Atlantis Cable News-- think CNN/MSNBC-- to discover that most of his staff has jumped ship to work on the new show of his protegee. This is because Will is, in fact, notoriously difficult to work with. (The model here seems to be Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, except the Maddow equivalent is a guy.)We learn from his departing executive producer Don, who only worked for him for 13 weeks, but was his longest running EP, that Will is a smart guy who isn't very nice, and is demeaning to his staff, one of whom, Maggie, he can't even remember her name. Apparently, he's very affable and moderate on the air-- earning him the moniker of the "Jay Leno of anchors"-- but a blowhard off of it.As a sideplot, Don and Maggie have been dating for four months. She wants him to meet her parents but he thinks it's too soon. She's a very green employee who was promoted from Will's intern to his assistant by accident even though he can't remember her name. Maggie has decided to stick with Will out of loyalty which Don thinks is crazy.Since his whole staff has been mutinous and gone to join Elliot's show, the head of the news division Charlie Skinner (played by Sam Waterston of "Law & Order" fame) has taken it upon himself to hire Will a new execuitve producer. And she brings along a small staff of her own.Her name is MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) and she has been producing the news in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years. It turns out that Will and McKenzie have a romantic past and he goes ballistic when he hears that she is going to be his EP (executive producer). (She is the woman that he thought he saw in the audience at the university debate that caused him to go off on his rant.) Will is so upset at the idea of McKenzie being his executive producer that he goes to his agent to renegotiate his contract: he gives back one million dollars a year on a three year contract to have the power to fire her at the end of each week of her 156 week contract if he doesn't like the job she is doing.While he is off negotiating this power, McKenzie and her senior producer Jim Harper show up at the ACN newsroom. It turns out that she's a great producer who is very idealistic about what she thinks journalism can do. Jim is clearly smart but a little bumbling and totally freaked out that all of the staff that McKenzie brought to the show including him is going to get fired since Will is mad about it. McKenzie meets Maggie, instantly promotes her to associate producer status, sees the negative dynamic between Maggie and Don and tells Jim that Maggie might be a good prospect for him.When Will returns, McKenzie goes into his office and launches into a speech about what a great journalist he could be and how he owes it to the electorate from a patriotic standpoint to keep them informed. (She also apologizes for whatever unnamed betrayal she perpetrated against him that caused their break-up.) She invokes Don Quixote/Man of La Mancha to inspire his journalistic fire. He doesn't take the bait, and is cynically unmoved - pointing out that they work in broadcast news not non-profit theatre.Meanwhile out in the newsroom the first word of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in the Gulf begins to trickle out and we learn that the show is set in the recent past, beginning in April 2010. Don wants to ignore it but Jim realizes it's going to be something big, as does a young blogger named Neal who is quick with research and knows about deep water drilling and that because of his interest in technology. He knows this will soon be a catastrophe since they won't be able to cap the well.While McKenzie and Will fight in his office, Jim and Don fight about what to do with the story with Don pointing out that Jim doesn't work there yet so he should cool his jets.Finally, after getting phone calls from highly placed sources, who happen to be his friends, Jim barges into Will's office to break the news against Don's wishes. Everybody fights about how important it is with Jim making his case. They decide to lead with it on Will's newscast "News Night." The place goes into scramble mode. Will tells everyone that was on his staff who are moving to the 10 o'clock news to get lost and the rest, including Don, get to work lining up experts, trying to get a statement from BP, and trying to find the inspector who last looked at the well. Maggie, amazingly, not only finds this last person but manages to get him on the phone and onto the air with Will who gets him to admit that there are only 56 inspectors to look over 35,000 plus oil drlling rigs and that he had never inspected one for real before Deepwater Horizon. Will does the newscast without a teleprompter or script, just getting instructions from McKenzie in the control room and vamping on his own and we see he is a formidable improviser.After the broadcast everyone is exhilarated. Other newscasts went with other top stories but were with the BP story by the end of their shows but "News Night" was out front. Will, to prove he is a nice guy, even though he's been yelling at everyone, goes into a control room to thank the staff. The only problem is it's the wrong control room. He concedes to McKenzie that she did a good job. She finally asks him why he melted down at that university debate a few weeks back. He says he got flustered, that he thought he saw someone in the audience but it wasn't who he thought it was. He gets in the elevator to leave. We see McKenzie open her notepad and on it are written her words "It's not, but it could be." She decides against going after Will to show him that it was her in the audience after all.
Directed by Greg Mottola Starring Jeff Daniels
, Emily Mortimer
, John Gallagher Jr.
, Alison Pill
, Thomas Sadoski
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