The 30-minute TCA panel for HBO’s The Newsroom might have been one of the most anticipated on the press tour, since the show’s creator, Aaron Sorkin, would be present to face his critics and defend the choices he made for the first season of the show. HBO had tried to cancel Sorkin’s appearance, but he told executives that he did not want to have “an adversarial relationship” with the press.
One of the biggest criticisms of the show is that the female characters are not portrayed realistically and often come off looking silly, even though they are accomplished career women. Sorkin said that while he respects that opinion, he disagrees 100 percent with it. Sorkin sees the women on his show as being good at their jobs, being team players and caring about people other than themselves.
“Once you’ve nailed those [qualities] down, you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want. That’s just comedy,” Sorkin said. “I think the female characters on our show are equals of the men.”
Even though the question was not asked, Sorkin told reporters that his writing staff was not fired. “And just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff. They’re acting very, very strange,” Sorkin said. “They’re coming to work early and they’re being nice to me.”
Another issue that Sorkin wanted to clear up in regards to the staff was that writer Corinne Kinsbury was not his ex-girlfriend. Sorkin said that he did not have an ex-girlfriend or a current girlfriend in the writer’s room or anywhere else on the show and said Kinsbury was on the staff for the same reason everyone else was, adding, “She is extremely talented and brings a sensibility that is different than my own.”
Sorkin also pointed out that the opinions expressed by Will MacAvoy (Jeff Daniels) are not based on his own opinions. “Most of the time, I write about things I don’t actually know much about,” Sorkin said. He referenced the screenplay he wrote for Moneyball and how he wrote that without having any idea how to beat the Yankees with the second-lowest payroll in baseball. “Political opinions that I have are at the level of sophistication of someone who has a BFA in musical theater.”
Daniels, who was also on hand for the panel, defended Sorkin’s writing. “Aaron’s characters have flaws. We come on with these big warts and flaws and I love that about his writing. And yeah, Emily’s [Mortimer who plays MacKenzie] character is established and smart and then she keeps screwing up. And that’s one of the reasons Will loves her.”
Sorkin doesn’t plan on changing the format that uses past news events for the fictional News Night crew to tackle. Some of the major events that will be featured in future Season 1 episodes include the coverage of Bin Laden’s death, the Casey Anthony trial and Anthony Weiner’s Twitter scandal.
The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.