Spring 2012 TV Preview: 11 Shows We Can't Wait for

Aaron Sorkin Enters The Newsroom
The man behind The West Wing and The Social Network brings his walk-and-talk- brilliance to a new HBO drama.

Oscar-and Emmy-winning scribe Aaron Sorkin will return to TV this summer with The Newsroom, an HBO ensemble drama headed up by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Sam Waterston that takes a behind-the-scenes look at a cable news show. Like Sports Night and The West Wing before it, The Newsroom will give Sorkin an opportunity to write about, in his words, ''workplace families populated with characters who are very good at their jobs and less good at everything else.'' Adds Sorkin, ''Reporters used to be the good guys in popular culture, and I wanted to write them that way.'' —Lynette Rice

In anticipation of the show's premiere, Sorkin agreed to dissect a scene from the pilot script, in which anchorman Will McAvoy (Daniels) and producer MacKenzie McHale (Mortimer) spar just moments before breaking news comes over the wire.

INT. WILL'S OFFICE — DAY
The rain's still beating against windows.

MACKENZIE
Now I'd like you to listen to these words which were written 500 years ago by Don Miguel de Cervantes: ''Hear me now O thou bleak and unbearable world, thou art base and debauched as can be. But a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled now hurls down his gauntlet to thee.'' That was Don Quixote.

WILL
Those words were written 45 years ago by the lyricist for Man of La Mancha.

MACKENZIE
Didn't think you'd know that, but the point's still the same. It's time for Don Quixote.*

WILL
And you think I'm him.

MACKENZIE**
No, I think I'm him. You're his horse.

WILL
He rode a donkey.

MACKENZIE
I can't help you there.

WILL***
Look--

MACKENZIE
It took me three years just to have a conversation with you so the least you could do is--

WILL
THE LEAST I COULD DO?!

MACKENZIE
--put the personal baggage down and think about--

WILL
My personal baggage? You walked in here.

MACKENZIE
I said the personal baggage and I didn't walk in uninvited.

WILL
You want me in the same shouting match as everyone else.

MACKENZIE
You got yourself in the shouting match when you took vertigo medicine. I'd have you winning it.

WILL
And what does winning look like to you?

MACKENZIE
Reclaiming the Fourth Estate. Reclaiming journalism as an honorable profession. A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect and a return to what's important. The death of bitchiness. The death of gossip and voyeurism. Speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot, a place where we all come together.****

WILL
(pause) That's...

MACKENZIE
Quixotic?*****

Sorkin's Notes
*''The Don Quixote metaphor was the only thing I knew about the show when I started. A group of good people on an honorable uphill battle that they'll almost surely lose.''

**''MacKenzie McHale [Emily Mortimer] is a very well-respected news producer, but she's like a bull who carries around her own china shop. Her fatal flaw is also her superpower — she's impervious to cynicism. She's been brought in by the president of the news division, Charlie Skinner [Sam Waterston], to push Will to his full potential, which is the last thing Will wanted anyone to do.''

***''Will McAvoy [Jeff Daniels] is the anchor of News Night, the flagship newscast of Atlantis Cable News, which is owned by Atlantis World Media. His popularity is unmatched by any cable news anchor not on Fox, but his popularity is due largely to the fact that he clings to the middle of the road and has managed not to bother anybody. His success on the air doesn't translate to happiness off of it, though. He's lonely, miserable, and out of hope.''

****''I think different people will have different news sources in mind during that speech.''

*****''Every episode takes place in the recent past, so Barack Obama is the president right now. We don't do any stunt casting, but real people play themselves in file footage.''