Aaron Sorkin is seeking some conservative insight for the second season of HBO’s The Newsroom.
The acclaimed writer is hiring media consultants of all political stripes to help advise the show’s writing process, The Newsroom creator told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. The consultants will be from TV, print, and online media disciplines and represent “every part of the ideological spectrum.” Sorkin said the hires will lend some real-world newsroom experience and give the show “a political perspective that I don’t have.”
“I have some really bright interesting conservative minds who have worked in conservative politics that will help me bolster some conservative arguments at those moments that we’re talking about politics,” Sorkin said after the show’s panel. “I don’t know yet exactly the timeline of when season 2 takes place, but I would be extremely surprised if it didn’t include the election and the conventions. So there’s going to be those kind of [political] arguments coming up.”
Sorkin was then asked if he felt the first season of The Newsroom was weaker because of a lack of conservative consultants.
“I don’t,” the writer replied.
Before HBO’s press tour panel for The Newsroom started, one question circling the room was: Will critics of the series be as nasty in person toward Sorkin as they have been toward his show?
The reporters were quite respectful, however. And before they had much of a chance to grill Sorkin, the writer went on the offensive, saying a widely cited media report incorrectly claimed he fired his writing staff. “A couple of weeks ago, an un-sourced and untrue story appeared on the Internet that got repeated all over the place,” Sorkin said. “The writing staff was not fired … just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff. They’re acting very strange – they’re coming to work early, they’re being polite to me. I want the old gang back. I love the writing staff.”
Last month, an online publication claimed Sorkin had fired nearly all of The Newsroom writers. At the time, an HBO source confirmed some writers were being let go, but said that the body count wasn’t as high as what had been reported. Sorkin told reporters Wednesday that “a couple” staff changes were made, including some promotions. Sorkin also noted that the original report identified one staff writer as his “ex-girlfriend,” a characterization he said is incorrect.
Sorkin then defended the depiction of female characters on The Newsroom against one critic’s assertion that women are described as smart yet act dumb. “I completely respect that opinion but I 100 percent disagree,” Sorkin said. “I think the female characters are the equals of the men … I think they’re not just talked about being good at their job, we plainly see they’re good at their job.”
Sorkin gave a few examples of female characters making strong decisions on the show, then noted, “once you’ve nailed down [that a character is smart] you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want.”
After the panel, Sorkin was asked about the viral YouTube video that showed the writer’s tendency to use certain phrases over and over again in his work.
“I really liked it,” he said, and jokingly explained: “I have a very limited imagination.”