Exclusive: The Closer's Jon Tenney Heads to HBO's Aaron Sorkin-Produced Newsroom

Aaron Sorkin is adding Jon Tenney to his Newsroom staff.

The Closer actor has been tapped to guest star in Sorkin’s upcoming cable news-themed HBO drama series, sources confirm to TVLine exclusively. He’ll play Wade, the boyfriend of Emily Mortimer’s character.

The hour-long drama, now officially called The Newsroom, is set behind the scenes at a fictional cable news network and centers on an anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Mortimer), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski) and their boss (Sam Waterston).

Oscar winner Jane Fonda rounds out the cast as Leona Lansing, the CEO of cable news network’s parent company.

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  1. Chad says:

    Man. Sorkin is just gonna keep on riding that meta “real show about what happens behind the scenes of a fake show” horse, isn’t he? “Sports Night” didn’t grab viewers. Neither did “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” But I’m SURE Newsroom will be different.

    • Ben says:

      Even though it didn’t grab viewers, Studio 60 was considered to be a REALLY well done show. Hopefully sticking this one on HBO will mean they won’t have to rely on the views quite so heavily. Because, let’s be honest, a Sorkin show might just be too “high brow” if it’s up against stuff like vampire teenagers and 90210. Viewers, yes. Quality TV? Eeeehhhhhhh…

    • Brendan says:

      Despite the ratings, Sports Night was good and Studio 60 was AMAZING (honestly I think it was a little too similar to the West Wing, and it would’ve found more success had it started a year or two later instead of right after TWW). Just because something doesn’t get ratings doesn’t mean it wasn’t good (see: Arrested Development, Firefly, Community, and well… Studio 60!)

    • Simon Jester says:

      @Chad – “But I’m SURE Newsroom will be different.”

      I hope not. SPORTS NIGHT and STUDIO 60 may not have “grabbed viewers,” but they were both brilliantly written and acted. Perhaps you should stick to AMERICAN IDOL; personally, I’ll always choose high-quality scripted material over populist dreck, regardless of how long it lasts.

  2. jasie says:

    The plus is with HBO they don’t need the same growers as broadcast. sports Night might not have found an audience but it is one of the greatest half hour shows ever imo. It felt like it should have been more of an hour long dramedy and I think this will be that.

  3. Kat says:

    Is Aaron Sorkin unaware of the brilliant Canadian show called “The Newsroom”? Maybe someone should tell him. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115291/

    Or is Sorkin intending this to be an American remake?

  4. Daveedtjr says:

    You had me, until you mentioned Hanoi Jane, as a guest star…

  5. Rodimus9 says:

    It’s HBO. They’ll throw money at 12 episodes and if it’s good they’ll throw a little more money at another 24 episodes and so on.

    Canceling studio 60 was one of the dumbest things ever. Gary shandlings show was on for how long? I thought studio 60 was way better and could still be on if on HBO. Stargate switched tv stations like 4 times and lasted 10 years.

    I think a shows success has a lot to do with the channel. I’ll check this out.

  6. Lyn says:

    I like Tenney and think the cable news setting could be fun . . . but not done by Aaron Sorkin. Being so ideologically liberal, he’ll just use it to take shots at Fox News — alienating those of us who are fair-minded and realize that there are heroes and villains on both sides of the aisle.

    • mags says:

      Yes, there are heroes and villians on both sides of the aisle, meaning left and right political aisles.

      But in the news business there is only fact or fiction. Fox News promotes fiction, and studies have shown its viewers to be the least informed. Fox is not “conservative,” but rather is a public relations arm to promote the business agenda of its corporate owners, an Australian billionaire and a Saudi Prince.

    • Jess says:

      I don’t know about that. Sorkin has never made a secret of his liberal views, but I think The West Wing consistently made an effort to show that almost nothing is black and white in politics, that there is another side to every argument, and that there are worthy (and unworthy) people at both ends of the political spectrum. And while Republicans, as the protagonists’ political rivals, could fall into the role of the ‘enemy’ (at least in the lead characters’ eyes), plenty of Democratic characters were shown to be unlikeable and there were a number of significant, sympathetic Republican characters – such as Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter), Cliff Calley (Mark Feuerstein), Albie Duncan (Hal Holbrook), Joseph Bruno (James Handy) and Matt Skinner (Charley Lang).

      Much of the material on Fox News deserves to be mocked, not because it is conservative but because it is poor journalism, distorting facts and presenting sensationalist content. But mockery of Fox News is not the same as mockery of conservatives as a whole. Indeed, I could easily see room for a politically conservative character in this show. Given that Will McCallister, Jeff Daniels’ character, is portrayed as a vocally liberal guy – and argumentative and a little arrogant besides – it could be potentially interesting to see him butt heads with an intelligent, articulate conservative character. Kind of like the dynamic between Ainsley and Sam in The West Wing.

      Anyway, just my two cents.

  7. Laurie says:

    I’ll watch anything with Sorkin’s name on it. Loved “Sports Night,” “West Wing,” and — yes! — “Studio 60.” I have Sports & West Wing on DVD & anytime I want to watch … really WATCH and LISTEN to finely crafted television, I pull out one of my DVDs & sit back and enjoy.

    Really looking forward to this new venture. Having Jon Tenney in it (along with Sam Waterston & Jeff Daniels) is more icing on the cake!

  8. Chad says:

    Don’t get me wrong, here. I loved Studio 60, and I own the series on DVD. My comment was not about the quality of those shows, but rather the concept’s ability to resonate with enough viewers to keep it on the air. I’m not sure that simply changing venues–from a sports show to a late night sketch comedy show to a 24 hour news network is the answer. But I hope he can make it work.

  9. Harper says:

    Bail out, Chad! Bail!! Why even bring up viewers? It’s on HBO, a network that ran a show as unwatched (and frankly useless) as Bored to Death for how long?? And in regards to Sorkin’s rampant liberalism, so what? Where in the rule book does it say entertainment should be compromising, unmotivated or dare I say “fair and balanced”? If you’re so precious about your ideology that you can’t have it challenged, don’t watch. I’m sure there will be a CSI or an NCIS around to be as bland and inoffensive as possible.

  10. Ethel says:

    Heck, I might have to subscribe to HBO just to feast my eyes on Jon Tenney now that the Closer is coming to an end.

    • Lois says:

      I’m sad to see The Closer end. But I’m glad that the great Jon Tenney will still be a regular on TV. The term “getting better with age” fits Tenney perfectly.

  11. cyclone says:

    i caught on to SPORTS NIGHT after it was already dead on the networks but I LOVED IT and still pop in the DVDs. i couldn’t get into West Wing cause the politics isn’t my thing. but i loved Studio 60…i thought it wasn’t given its fair share to end properly. you got to hand it to Aaron Sorkin, he has a formula that he sticks to and by golly one of his shows will survive…my question is how is this new show different from Sports Night you have the anchor (Jeff Daniels)(Caseyt McCall), his new executive producer (Mortimer)(Dan Whitaker), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill (Natalie), John Gallagher, Jr. (Jeremy), Olivia Munn (Kim), Dev Patel (Eliot), Thomas Sadoski (Dan?) and their boss (Sam Waterston) (Isaac). and this casting of Jon Tenney as the EP’s boyfriend (Gordon)…is he going to have an affair with Jane Fonda’s character (Sally)?

    • Jess says:

      Having read the pilot script, I don’t think this is going to be a rehash of Sports Night. Whereas Sports Night was centred strongly around the on- and off-air friendship and partnership of Dan and Casey, in Newsroom Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels) stands alone as the passionately liberal and arrogant newsreader whose prickly demeanour has alienated most of his staff. The relationship between Will and his new EP McKenzie (Emily Mortimer) has the potential to echo that of Casey and Dana, but whereas the latter’s involves a romance growing from a longtime friendship and working relationship, McKenzie is introduced as an ex-lover with whom things ended very badly.

      I got a bit of a Jeremy vibe from Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.), who’s described as a bright guy who doesn’t realise how good-looking he is “because he saw All the President’s Men when he was 7 years old and never looked back”. There’s something of a love triangle situation being set up between him, Maggie (Allison Pill) and Steve (an associate producer with whom Maggie is in an obviously unhealthy relationship). Olivia Munn plays Sloan, the network’s “money honey” financial analyst; she’s only in a couple of scenes in the pilot but I’m already enjoying the character. And I can safely say that Don (Tom Sadoski) is no Dan Rydell – the guy’s portrayed as kind of an ass who starts the episode by quitting Will’s show and taking most of the production staff with him. Not that he’s had an easy time of it – Will, as I said, can be kind of an ass himself, and Don is only the latest in a number of EPs to quit the show.

      Bottom line… Sorkin does have a bit of a reputation for recycling storylines, character types and dialogue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some familiar material over the course of Newsroom. But the reason Sorkin usually gets away with cribbing off himself is that he does it well; he can take elements from past shows he’s done and make them feel fresh. Sports Night and The West Wing have numerous overlapping points, for instance (such as a storyline involving a character struggling to cope with his parents’ impending divorce and the revelation of his father’s decades-long affair – Sam in The West Wing and Jeremy in Sports Night) and yet both stand up on their own as excellent shows.

      So no, I’m not worried about Newsroom treading the same ground as Sports Night. True, they do share a similar setting, but I think Newsroom has quite a different tone and I’m confident in Sorkin’s writing ability.

  12. kiki says:

    Oh Sports Night, you were a good show, but your laugh track was terrible.

  13. I really like this show. It is well-written and flows the way politics is- Sorkin is so different and intriguing. The cast is fun and adding Jon Tenney is perfect. He is so cute and such a great actor. I would watch it just to see him again. This is TV- I try not to get so judgemental and serious about it as I watch it.