Monday, August 27, 2012

Of Newsrooms and Icons

Even though the Olympics are done, there is still TV worth watching...

Aaron Sorkin's HBO program Newsroom is doing what Sorkin's West Wing did:  create a thoroughly fictitious world where standards and ethics still matter.  While he's at it, he paints complex, fascinating characters whose emotional needs are always secondary to their needs to serve the public interest.  Whether the latter point is a virtue can be debated since most all the characters from both West Wing and Newsroom are single or divorced. 

Another point that can be debated is whether creating such an ideal world gives us something to strive for or something to bemoan as unattainable. 

I also appreciate that although Newsroom take all of its story lines from the headlines, its promos never mention "ripped from the headlines."

The show had its season finale already.  That is an annoying aspect of HBO series.  Very few episodes until they take their siesta.  Wait for it to come back.  (well, you have no choice but to wait…)  (it is worth wait)

And if you absolutely, have to read…

Two from Tom Shales.

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.  Sure, it's ten years old already. SNL is like the economy--people are constantly predicting its demise and then it resurrects again for no apparent reason and despite 
the advice of experts.  Tom Shales (and James Andrew Miller) tell the story by letting all those that lived it tell the story.  Through unedited interviews with basically everybody (except Eddie Murphy), all those moments that you remember or heard about are explained and demythified.  The stories of John Belushi's excesses, Chevy Chase's excesses, producer Lorne Michael's excessive ego and all the others that made up the show are told--by the people that lived them.  With no foreshadowing and minimal opionating from the authors.  It is an amazing look into broadcast history from those that made broadcast history.

Extra good news:  Live from New York is available in the cheap racks at most book stores.

Also, ESPN  Those Guys Have All the Fun  Inside the World of ESPN.   Shales and Miller explain the early days of ESPN when it was a goof with little hope of becoming, well,  ESPN.  The people that created and nurtured the network from a theory to a legend tell their own story.  The authors offer minimal editorializing and do not foreshadow.  Full disclosure: I went to college with Linda Cohn, legendary ESPN SportsCenter anchor.  I don't include this disclosure for journalistic reasons. I am bragging that I did the news on our campus radio station with Linda.  One of the nicest people I knew. 

ESPN and SNL supplied iconic programming that has collectively given us so many moments that are part of our media history.   How they started, how they both almost failed and who made them what they are today--amazing stories told first hand by those that lived them.  

And finally:

ABC New's Nightline beats Leno and Letterman in its time slot after local news.  So, this January, ABC is going to take away its time slot and move it behind Jimmy Fallon.  Because two variety shows after local news is clearly not enough.  I believe if ABC supervised Jamaican sports, it would have Usain Bolt competing in equestrian events.