Walk With Me

Been aching for some snappy dialogue, walk-and-talks, and references to musicals?

Never fear. Aaron Sorkin returns to television with The Newsroom, featuring a television anchorman/moderate Republican named Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). It’ll be on HBO starting June 24, so if you, like me, don’t have HBO or cable at all, well, we’ll have to figure out something. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be cautiously optimistic for this. (See bottom for trailer.)

New York Magazine did an interview with Sorkin about the new show and his previous work, which blends conversation from two separate interviews. Here’s some tidbits of it.

On how he views Sports Night, his first television show:

It’s a little bit like looking at my high-school-yearbook picture. There’s a lot of the writing that was annoying, and I know I could do it better today.

On pretending to be smart:

Oftentimes, I write about people who are smarter than I am and know more than I do, and I am able to do that simply by being tutored almost phonetically, sometimes. I’m used to it. I grew up surrounded by people who are smarter than I am, and I like the sound of intelligence. I can imitate that sound, but it’s not organic. It’s not intelligence. It’s my phonetic ability to imitate the sound of intelligence.

On politics in his work:

All I can say is this: First of all, my biggest concern always is, was it a good story, well told? I’m not thinking about the politics at all. But I don’t want to make the same mistake that I accuse the media of making, which is that they all better be equal accusations on all sides, that fairness is somehow a virtue in art. It’s not. Fairness and balance don’t have anything to do with art. This isn’t journalism, and it doesn’t have to live by those rules. It’s meant to have a subjective point of view and an authorial voice.

On The West Wing:

NY mag: So, to extend your baseball analogy, was The West Wing your home run?

Solid double.

NY mag: Really? Just halfway home?

A solid double’s good! Listen, I love series television for many reasons, but the one downside is, if I’m writing a movie or a play and I’m not writing well, I call the studio or the producer and say, “It’s gonna be late. I’ve run into trouble, you’ll have to wait another month or two.” You can’t do that when you’re writing a television series. You have to write when you’re not writing well. I wrote 88 ­episodes of The West Wing. One of them is going to be your 88th best. And I’m not good enough for my 88th best to be very good.

On leaving The West Wing:

NY mag: Do you have any regret about not having been able to stay with the show for the last three years of its run?

Yes. Sure.

NY mag: I’m not asking you to assess what the show became after you left.

I’m unable to, and I’ll tell you why. Less than an hour after the press release went out toward the end of season four [announcing] that Tommy Schlamme, our principal director, and I would be leaving the show, Larry David called me. I’d only met him a couple of times, we’d shaken hands. Larry had left Seinfeld early. And he called me and said, “You can never watch the show again. Either it’s going to be great, and you’re going to be miserable, or it’s going to be less than great, and you’re going to be miserable. But either way, you’re going to be miserable.” I thanked him for his advice, but I thought, you know, Larry’s kind of professionally miserable. So, the day before the season-five premiere aired, a copy was messengered to me. I stuck the tape in, and I did not get even 60 seconds into it before I had to shut it off. Not because it was great, not because it was less than great, but because it was like watching somebody make out with my girlfriend. Other than those 60 seconds, which I can’t even really recall, I’ve never seen seasons five through seven. I missed it terribly when I left. But it was the right thing to do.

What do you think?


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