Filming is about to begin on episode 9 of HBO’s much-anticipated new series The Newsroom (premiering June 24), and the drama’s biggest star looks like he just came from cleaning out his garage. But no one seems to care about Aaron Sorkin’s sloppy sweatpants and oversize sweatshirt as he weaves his way through the 10,000-square-foot L.A. soundstage that houses the fictitious network Atlantis Cable News.
That’s because he’s Aaron freaking Sorkin.
”Just having him walk in the room…he’s a genius,” coos Emily Mortimer, who plays ACN’s quixotic executive producer MacKenzie MacHale. ”It’s amazing getting to work with him.” Adds Jeff Daniels, who plays blowhard News Night anchor Will McAvoy: ”On so many big-budget films, you see the fingerprints of many junior execs. You don’t see that with Aaron. The writer is the star in TV.”
”I don’t think that’s true,” protests Sorkin, 50, a few days later. He has since replaced the sweats (”That was a writing day”) with a more professional ensemble of a button-down shirt and slacks. ”There are many people who stay away because I’m writing it!”
Well, that’s hard to swallow. Even if Sorkin misfired with his 2006 NBC dramedy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (canceled after just one season), he remains the hugely sought-after, six-time Emmy-winning creator of The West Wing and Oscar-winning writer of The Social Network. (He also just signed on to adapt Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography for the big screen.) Now, with Newsroom, Sorkin returns to the behind-the-scenes-of-live-TV conceit he embraced on Studio 60 and Sports Night to explore the reawakening of a veteran news anchor who has built his entire career and reputation on playing it safe. ”He doesn’t want to offend anyone, so he always has good things to say about Sarah Palin,” explains Daniels. ”He’s living a lie by not being a journalist. He moves farther and farther away from heroes like Walter Cronkite and Sam Donaldson, who used to stand up in the White House and badger Nixon. Will had a dream that he could have been that guy.”