First Look Video: Does HBO's Aaron Sorkin-Produced Drama The Newsroom Look Familiar?

Take Sports Night, add a dash of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and sprinkle in a little West Wing for good measure and you’ve got The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO drama set behind-the-scenes at a fictional cable news network. At least that’s the vibe we’re getting from the show’s first official trailer. 

The hour-long series centers on an anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski) and their boss (Sam Waterston).

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  1. Rob says:

    Aaron Sorkin, along with many members of the cast, are looking at Emmys in the future. The end. HBO is on it’s game.

    • Mal says:

      Agreed! I was getting ready to cancel my HBO subscription until I heard Aaron Sorkin was going to be doing a show; I thought I’d wait and see how it looked. What a dummy I am, of course it looks AWESOME! I loved Studio 60, which got me to watch West Wing and Sports Night on DVD. I’m super excited for this, Veep, and Girls. I might actually watch HBO for the first time in years!!

  2. jasie says:

    This looks great. With this and Veep HBO has upped the game.
    Ps all of those Sorkin shows mentioned are amazing and this will be up there as well.

  3. xav says:

    It’s basically every television show Aaron Sorkin has ever written but now they can drop the f-bomb. It’s going to be great.

  4. Jeff Stockwell says:

    Well, it looks like the first episode of this will be a fairly thin rewrite of the SportsNight pilot (right down to using Kieth Olbermann as its primary inspiration). In and of itself that’s not a bad thing, but, not for nothing*, Sorkin should come up with something new. He’s a one trick pony…a talented one trick pony who can create some compelling characters and snappy patter, but “behind the scenes at ‘X’ with a main character who is ready to explode with liberal outrage” has been the premise of his last 3 shows.

    *Any bets on how far we get into the first episode before we hear this phrase? A phrase that no one uses on real life? BTW, The West Wing is one of my favorite shows of all time and I am currently re-watching my SportsNight DVDs.

    • Ashley says:

      I can’t really comment on the Sports Night relationship as I haven’t actually seen it (I know, I know. Bad Ashley. I just hate to get involved with a show that will have no resolution), but to answer your quest I use that particular phrase in real life. However, I’m a bit of a word geek so I may very well be a bit of an anomaly here…

      • Mike says:

        Sports Night does have resolution. They knew they were getting cancelled and wrote it as a series conclusion that could have been added to if they got another season.

    • TV Gord says:

      People use it. It just doesn’t mean anything. It’s a meaningless phrase that people use instead of saying, “Uhhhhhhhh”, until their next catch phrase comes to them. ;-)

    • I use the phrase.

      So does the publication (medical news) that I work for.

      • TV Gord says:

        I would think less of a medical publication that used that phrase. It’s not literate. Does it also use, “ain’t”, “a-whole-nother” and “anyways”???

    • O'Brien says:

      If you’re talking about Commonly Used Phrases of the Sorkin Lexicon, might I point you first and foremost to “If you haven’t seen [description of some action being performed by an elite personage in the performance of that action], then you haven’t seen Shakespere the way it was meant to be played.” I like it when AS does this, as it always makes me feel Smokey.

  5. touristl26 says:

    Have so missed the Sorkin snark – and with the move to HBO it’s only gonna get snarkier. A blend of the 3 prior Sorkin shows sounds like the right mix.

  6. Trista says:

    I was psyched until I saw Jane Fonda in the previews. If you can tell me she is out after the first episode, I’ll watch.

    PS – Sports Night – best show EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Ron says:

    Same concept, different actors, not interested.

    • Ashley says:

      Completely understandable, but considering how very little new concepts there are out there, at least it’ll be a well-written, well-acted, snarktastic retread. Unlike, say, pretty much any show on CBS (which, these days could pretty much mean Centered By Spinoffs).

  8. Diane Elhard says:

    Now THIS I will enjoy! More Aaron Sorkin is always a good thing. Cannot.wait.

  9. Sal says:

    I didn’t watch Sports Night or Studio 60, but I will definitely check this out

  10. Sean C. says:

    Jeff Daniels’ character saying he’s a registered Republican has me a bit uneasy, because Sorkin is not good at writing actual Republicans. He mostly deals in caricatures or people who say they’re conservative but are, in fact, liberal (and sometimes he produces caricatures but expects you to take them as a somebody with a serious viewpoint, bizarrely, as happened multiple times on “Studio 60”). Sorkin is a flaming liberal (and I generally agree with him on the issues), and he is fundamentally unable to understand the thought processes of people who are not.

    This is far from uncommon, mind you.

    • dude says:

      What is an actual republican? I’m pretty sure it’s someone who supports the Republican party and votes accordingly. I don’t think there’s any other quality that makes a “real republican” just because they’re not a stereotype but someone with rational thoughts, doesn’t mean they’re not a real republican.

      • Sean C. says:

        An actual Republican would be somebody who believes things that Republicans tend to. This guy doesn’t sound like one, in his brief screentime so far.

        • andrewtobin says:

          I think the fact is he’s pointing out he’s NOT a caricature of a Republican – but we’re judging it on 10 seconds of footage.

    • Brian J says:

      I think it depends on how the character is fleshed out. In a lot of ways, Daniels’ character being a Republican is more interesting than him being a Democrat, because it wouldn’t be surprising if he were a Democrat. If the angle Sorkin is going for is that the Republicans have become way too extreme for most people*, there’s a lot of territory to be mined. It will be, or at least it should be, different than the Republican foils that were on “The West Wing” when he was writing, because Daniels’ character is meant to be a sympathetic figure.

      *This is entirely acceptable, because it’s their party and they can stand for whatever it is they want to stand for. But I don’t think it’s out of bounds to say that the Republican party of Eisenhower and Nixon and Ford and even Reagan is very different than the party of Cantor, Boehner, and Ryan.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Oh, I am with you on that. I felt that exact same way about the Harriet Hayes character on Studio 60. I loved Harriet to death, but at times it felt like she wasn’t written very real.

      • andrewtobin says:

        Which is amusing because she was (apparently, rumouredly) written against the template of a very real person, but hey, it’s someone elses view of that person too, and being a performer, and being in Hollywood – maybe a more liberal version.

        It’s hard because if you write someone as a typical version of something then they’re called a caricature of that, if you write against then you’re called on that too – if you write something you think is real, then it’s compared against all other forms of that “kind” of person.

        Lets face it, Republicans aren’t all the Tea Party, and it’s hard to put any label on any person and have that all they are, exactly like every other “label”.

    • Setting aside the issue of whether or not Sorkin’s Republican characters are “real” Republicans, I would certainly argue that he did an excellent job of articulating the Republican point of view on any number of issues during The West Wing. In fact he often did it far better than actual Republican politicians did at the time. Although he made no secret that the White House he wrote was a Liberal Democrat administration, he had plenty of articulate, intelligent and interesting characters through the years that made compelling arguments for the other side. That is one reason that TWW was so popular and successful, where Studio 60 was not. (Personally, I adored S60, but I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t a Liberal myself)

      I know any number of Republicans who loved TWW, but they wouldn’t have if the point of view had been too narrow. I just hope he can thread that needle again. And maybe speak for the many moderate Republicans out there who are being marginalized by the Far Right. That should be interesting if he can pull it off.

      I’ll be watching either way, as the worst stuff he puts out there is still better than 80 of what’s on TV now.

    • O'Brien says:

      He’s good at writing fiscal conservatives, which are actually definitional Republicans, rather than social conservatives, which are not. Case in point: Ainsley Hayes.

  11. Amy says:

    Sorkin with a WW feel? Interested.

  12. Ashley says:

    Oh, Sorkin. How I have missed you. I want this show on my television screen right now.

  13. It has all the subtlety of a brick to the head!

  14. Sherry Ball says:

    Anything by Aaron Sorkin is gonna be good. I’ve had the username “sprtsnightfan” for well over 10 years now, and still wish they’d bring it back, even if it’s just to give it a proper send off. West Wing was another fave. Looking forward to another Sorkin project.

  15. Rolfe says:

    It seems like HBO is the perfect place for an Aaron Sorkin drama. Can not wait! Looks fantastic!

  16. Meg says:

    Show was intriguing until I remembered how much I can’t stand the real media and cable news networks so I won’t be watching. But that’s just me.

  17. Anything Aaron Sorkin writes, I will watch – it’s as simple as that.

  18. TV Gord says:

    I hope it’s more like Sports Night or The West Wing (great!) and less like Studio 60 (awful!).

  19. M says:


    I still miss Studio 60.


  20. ggny says:

    Im guessing HBO cut this trailer together to make it look like The West Wing + Studio 60 to draw in the Sorkin fans but i believe it will be different

  21. Amiee says:

    You had me as Sam Waterston.

  22. Ric says:

    Is Sorkin hoping that no one remembers Network?

    • O'Brien says:

      He certainly did when he wrote Studio 60, but everyone forgot to watch that, so I guess the fingers are crossed again.

      • andrewtobin says:

        He never hoped they forgot Network for Studio 60 – he mentioned Network and Paddy Chayefsky a bajillion times when the breakdown occured – watch the Pilot again… news reports were shown in an avalanche of reaction mentioning Network again and again.

  23. Britta Unfiltered says:

    It does seem like Sorkin is constantly rewriting the same kinds of themes in his shows with the same kinds of characters and even recycles a lot of the same names. But I’m cool with it. I never saw West Wing, but I always like everything else he does. This is kind of an eclectic cast, it ought to be interesting seeing them work together. But I still roll my eyes and sigh every time I see Olivia Munn’s name connected to this project.

  24. Rjrtist says:

    Don’t get me wrong I like Sorkin but he has one pitfall. The characters don’t have any individuality and basically sound alike. Characters do speak different even though it’s Sorkin’s words on paper.

  25. andrewtobin says:

    Wow, the whole breakdown thing is very reminiscent of Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network”! I wonder if the characters will point this out to us 30x in a very back patting “Aren’t we ultra smart with our references?!” the same way they did at the breakdown in Studio 60.

    I mean, I loved it, but it seemed awfully self-congratulatory, and it seems like such a similar start to both Studio 60 and Sports Night (in the first episodes one of the hosts was very burnt out and about to be fired).

    That being said, they’re keeping the guy around so that’s new – and I LOVE Aaron Sorkin’s writing, and it seems to be an incredibly polished look and feel to it (as you’d expect).

    I only really hope he veers towards new ground rather than the repetition of old ground that is his usually tack – it’s fun, it’s insider baseball for fans, and he does have a lot of great themes he plays with – but the world is changing, news is a great battleground for a lot of the ideals and opinions he usually expresses in his work and it could be SUCH an awesome series.

    I mean, remembering the great Republicans he put into The West Wing, they were hardly ever caricatures and sometimes they were incredibly admirable, remembering Harriet Hayes and her discussions of faith – I just hope the politics is well handled in this too (since it is mentioned in the trailer I thought I’d bring it up).

    Such high hopes. Incredibly high hopes.

    • lost327 says:

      Keeping the guy around isn’t new–Wes was fired on Studio 60 for his outburst, but Casey kept his job on Sports Night, as did Josh on the West Wing.

      Not that I’m tired of Sorkin’s plot devices, I’m genuinely excited for this show and was quite upset when Studio 60 clearly wasn’t going to be renewed; I just wanted to point that out.

  26. rubytu says:

    this show looks like it will be awesome. I think I will be a fan.