You may not know the name, but you probably have heard of something he has written or produced. Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, American President, Moneyball, The Social Network. And, one of my all-time favorite TV shows, The West Wing. I have a few friends who lean so far right politically they almost tip over, and they still loved West Wing, a show where Martin Sheen stars as a Democratic president of the US.
Studio 60 was a short-lived show Sorkin did in 2006. It lasted 1 season, to my disappointment.
We’d been hearing rumbles for a few years that Sorkin would have something new, and then finally it was here.
The Newsroom debuted Sunday evening on HBO. Sorkin did fine on network television with West Wing, but with the added flexibility of HBO, the first episode seems to indicate another show with home run potential. Jeff Daniels stars as Will McAvoy, a somewhat troubled anchor of a very popular cable news show. His boss is Sam Waterston, who I enjoyed watching on Law & Order for 35 years. There’s something not quite right about the “always politically correct” Waterston telling someone, “I’ll tear your f**cking head off if you don’t shut up”, but that’s the beauty of HBO.
It’s only one episode, and so the show could turn out to be a dud. It could also be a show I enjoy tremendously but the network doesn’t believe in (see Studio 60). But, HBO is a different model than network TV and seems to hit it more often with shows and take the long view than some of the network stations. That leads me to believe it’s got a higher chance of success even if critics end up not loving it. It’s already receiving some bad press from, well, the press. I guess that’s what you get when you poke your finger at the people most likely to be pissy when you write a show about their profession.