After screening the pilot episode (“We Just Decided To”) of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom, the Los Angeles Film Festival audience was treated to a Q&A session which featured Sorkin himself along with executive producer Alan Poul, director Greg Mottola, and moderated by Madeleine Brand (The Madeleine Brand Show.) Anyone who has attended a Sorkin Q&A (or seen the man speak) knows that it is the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon. Sorkin’s signature fast-talk does not just live on the pages he writes, it is also how Sorkin speaks himself.
It was clear that whatever Sorkin and Brand had spoken about prior to coming into the theater had left them both riled up. Brand (much like the Northwestern professor does to Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, in the first scene of the premiere episode) refused to let Sorkin get away with non-answers or quips. Brand continuously pushed him until Sorkin, the man of a million words, let out an exasperated breath… and then jumped right back in.
The Newsroom’s first episode takes many twists and turns as Sorkin establishes these characters (who all embody his signature mile-a-minute speak), but the news itself focuses on the Louisiana oil spill back on April 20, 2010. While there are certainly moments of walk (or even run) and talk, the first scene (a portion of which can be seen in the show’s promos) has Will ripping into a female co-ed at a rapid fire pace without ever leaving his seat. While the staff are constantly running around to compile the news (sometimes hilariously caught doing so in the background of the broadcast), it is Will who sits stationary to report it, giving The Newsroom that combination of movement and stillness that proved to be both captivating and invigorating.
Here are the 19 things we learned during “Developing Story: Inside the Newsroom” conversation and panel.
18. Jesse Eisenberg has a guest-starring role in the first episode. As the voice of Eric Neal (real life Minerals Management Services inspector) and Sorkin noted that this would be the only instance on the show that an actor would play real person. Sorkin added that everything Eisenberg said as Neal in the interview was real and was pulled from the actual interview Neal did (only Neal’s interview was conducted weeks after the spill, not moments after the news broke.)