Everyone, can I have your attention please? Aaron Sorkin has something he’d like to say about The Newsroom. And get this: It’s an apology!
According to Buzzfeed, Sorkin took a little time at a Tribeca Film Festival event Monday to say a few sheepish words about The Newsroom. It went a little something like this:
“I’m going to let you all stand in for everyone in the world, if you don’t mind. I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom, and I apologize and I’d like to start over,” Sorkin said. “I think that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I did not set the show in the recent past in order to show the pros how it should have been done. That was and remains the furthest thing from my mind. I set the show in the recent past because I didn’t want to make up fake news. It was going to be weird if the world that these people were living in did not in any way resemble the world that you were living in, so I didn’t want to make up fake news, and also, I wanted the option of having a terrific dynamic that you can get when the audience knows more than the characters do … So, I wasn’t trying to and I’m not capable of teaching a professional journalist a lesson. That wasn’t my intent, and it’s never my intent to teach you a lesson or to try to persuade you of anything.”
He continued: “I like writing romantically and idealistically. I try to balance that with just enough realism so that it feels like whatever romantic ideal is in there is somehow attainable. That it’s not a cartoon. It’s not animated. There’s no magic involved. We could really do that. So there’s some wish fulfillment. These are people who are trying to do the news well when market forces work against that.”
And then, just when you thought he was done, Sorkin admitted that he’s not an expert…in anything: “I haven’t become an expert in anything. I’m not sophisticated when it comes to politics, when it comes to journalism. I’m not as smart as the characters are or, as you can see, as articulate,” he said, later adding, “I want to make it clear: I don’t know nothin’.”
And when interviewer Jon Favreau brought up some of Sorkin’s past work and how he’s grown as a writer, Sorkin added: “I’m able to catch bad writing before it gets on the page better than I used to. The problem is in television, the schedule’s so ferocious. It’s so fast … With television, we have airdates. We’re working backwards. There are airdates that have to be hit, and you have to write when you’re not writing well, and then you have to point a camera at it. So, with everything, from Sports Night to The West Wing, Studio 60, and The Newsroom, we shoot my first drafts and you just have to live with, ‘There’s bad writing out there. Now, we had to do it. This is what you signed up for, and we had to do it.’ It’s kind of like a M*A*S*H unit…We just want to stop the bleeding here. Some weeks, that’s what it’s like on series television. Make it as good as you possibly can in the time that you have to do it, but there isn’t a single episode of television I’ve written I don’t wish that I could get back and do again.”
But with the announcement that The Newsroom’s third season will be its last, Sorkin has one final chance to write the way he wants to write. “I feel like I’m just now starting to learn how to write it,” he said. “I‘m very proud of The Newsroom. I have the time of my life working with the people that I work with, but there is a learning curve and unfortunately, those lessons are learned in front of several million people. Again, that’s what you sign up for. I wish that I could go back to the beginning of The Newsroom and start again and replicate what you have with a play, which is a preview period where it’s being done in front of an audience, but I’m feeling really good about how the third season is going. I’ll look back on it fondly and proudly and wish I could get every scene of every episode back so that I could do it all over again.”
Listen to the entire conversation below:
Intriguing! Do you accept his apology?