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Aaron Sorkin Fires All Newsroom Writers

The Newsroom implosion continues as Sorkin purged the entire writing stafffor The Newsroom except for his ex-girlfriend.

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Sorkin with his favorite person in the world

That is not a sign of a healthy series. Just look at The Walking Dead, which is absolutely terrible and purged its writers and its executive producer.

What’s really weird is that The Newsroom even had a writing staff. This is a series with 10 episodes in is first season. Every single episode that aired so far was credited to Sorkin. Only the 3rd episode allowed someone to share the writing credit with Sorkin.

Maybe the last four episodes have someone whose name isn’t Aaron Sorkin in the credits, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

That’s not really all that unusual. Most of the episodes for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip were also written by Sorkin. In a few episodes Sorkin shared credit and some of the stories were developed by other writers, but his name was always on the script. Mostly there was just his name.

Why does Sorkin even need a writing staff? Maybe he just needs someone to fire when the ratings don’t add up.

Sympathy for the Sorkin Devil

Okay so The Newsroom is taking a beating from professional working reporters, not including Dan Rather, who used to be one and is

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Sorkin with his favorite person in the world

now just a sad old man who posts at Gawker. Maybe Sorkin’s formula has worn a bit thin. Maybe reporters feel berated and belittled by The Newsroom. It would be like Jake Tapper showing up at Sorkin’s job and telling him how to write scripts properly. But the biggest story to come out of The Newsroom’s newsroom is Sorkin’s clash with one Sarah Nicole Prickett.

I don’t really like articles where the reporter becomes the story. There’s no doubt that Sorkin is an ass, but Sarah Nicole Prickett’s interview with him is short on interview and long on out of context quotes.

Reading between the mostly left out lines, we can conclude that Sorkin’s ego felt pricked because Prickett brought up the internet displacing traditional news and Aaron Sorkin is really not a fan of the internet. That’s what probably leads him to call her “Internet Girl”.

But Prickett spends a lot of time implying that he’s a sexist pig and maybe even a racist for… not really very much.

Aaron Sorkin knows the weight of last words, and his last words to me, as we walk-and-talk out of the HBO press room, are: “Write something nice.” He says this in the “Smile, honey” tone of much less successful jerks.

Okay so we’re indicting him for his tone of voice? Maybe it was a really offensive tone of voice. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Like the whole piece, it’s out of context.

In between that there’s a whole bunch of stuff like this…

At the short end of a TV season dominated, if not by shows about girls and women, by talk about shows about girls and women, Sorkin’s new drama The Newsroom arrives with a “Hey, remember how great America was when it wasn’t just a man’s world, but a man’s man’s world?”

Is that really the message of The Newsroom?

I’ll concede that Sorkin is probably sexist, but is Hey America, We’re Going Back to the He-Male 50’s Where Women Are in the Kitchen really the message of the show?

Is The Newsroom not allowed to exist because Girls is on? What about Game of Thrones? Or True Blood?

In the bits of the interview that we get, Sorkin starts out being a jerk. Then Sarah Nicole Prickett hits him with, well aren’t you a tool of the patriarchy longing for the days when white men ran the world. That’s perhaps not the exact question she asks him, but it’s close enough.

Sorkin doesn’t see this. He denies being either an ideologue or a modernist, agreeing only that the show is written in his voice, and that said voice is “authorial” (both my word and his). I’d posit that creating an authorial drama in a time of mumbling, precarious, voice-of-a-generation comedy almost absolutely constitutes an ideology, one both modernist and masculinist. But conveniently, at that moment, the interview’s over.

This is college sophomore entrapment. This is, you’re guilty because you’re doing what you’ve always been doing, but it’s running against a social current that I just defined as the norm for you to defy.

This is Oleanna reasoning and I hate that play, but I also hate people who play this game.

Sorkin sees a challenge to his authority and lashes out in a childish way. The way he lashes out plays into Sarah Nicole Prickett’s agenda. And a meme is born.

“Listen here, Internet girl,” he says, getting up. “It wouldn’t kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while.”

I say also, factually, “I have aNew York Times subscription and an HBO subscription. Any other advice?”

He looks surprised, then high-fives me. Being not a person who high-fives or generally makes physical contact with interview subjects, I look more surprised.

“I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five,” he says. He makes me try to do it “properly,” six times. He also makes me laugh; I’m nervous, and it’s so absurd. He loves it. He says, “Let me manhandle you.”

Sorkin winds up proving her point, that he’s threatened by women and reacts by confronting them physically. Prickett is wrong in her reasoning, but the confrontation makes it seem like she’s right. That’s also an old trick of sensationalistic reporters.  Sorkin loses because he doesn’t really understand the game, even though he’s done countless interviews and is making a show about the media.

Prickett understands news in the Gawker era and she taught Sorkin a lesson that he probably didn’t learn, but she also showed that there’s no reason to read her or to listen to Sorkin.

New Yorker Agrees With Me On Newsroom

And I didn’t even see it yet.

In “The Newsroom,” clever people take turns admiring one another. They sing arias of facts. They aim to remake

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Sorkin with his favorite person in the world

television news: “This is a new show, and there are new rules,” a maverick executive producer announces, several times, in several ways. Their outrage is so inflamed that it amounts to a form of moral eczema—only it makes the viewer itch.

Emily Nussbaum at the New Yorker likes and dislikes The Newsroom for all the usual reasons, because it is a Sorkin show. And that’s how I called it

The whole premise of his HBO series The Newsroom is “Why don’t more people in the news say the things that we know are right.” And that’s going to be it. Episode after episode of clever dialogues that make people feel clever about what they really believe.

Oh and The Newsroom kind of sounds exactly like Studio 60, right down to the opening premise.

When the moderator needles him into answering a question about why America is the greatest country on earth, he goes volcanic, ticking off the ways in which America is no such thing, then closing with a statement of hope, about the way things used to be. This speech goes viral, and his boss (Sam Waterston) and his producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), who’s also his ex-girlfriend, encourage him to create a purer news program, purged of any obsession with ratings and buzz.

Jeff Daniels by the way is 57. Emily Mortimer is pushing 40. Nothing more to say about that.

Whenever McAvoy delivers a speech or slices up a right-winger, the ensemble beams at him, their eyes glowing as if they were cultists.

But they’re really admiring Aaron Sorkin’s words. McAvoy is standing in for Sorkin. Sorkin might as well just step in and play the part. He even kind of looks like Daniels.

Sorkin is often presented as one of the auteurs of modern television, an innovator and an original voice. But he’s more logically placed in a school of showrunners who favor patterspeak, point-counterpoint, and dialogue-driven tributes to the era of screwball romance. Some of this banter is intelligent; just as often, however, it’s artificial intelligence, predicated on the notion that more words equals smarter.

Besides Sorkin, these creators include Shonda Rhimes (whose Washington melodrama, “Scandal,” employs cast members from “The West Wing”); Amy Sherman-Palladino, of “The Gilmore Girls” (and the appealing new “Bunheads”); and David E. Kelley, who created “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.”

Nussbaum is very right here. There’s a whole school of these people and what they do best is copy some of the energy of the theater by incorporating wordplay and rapid responses, but there’s nothing behind it. Sorkin admitted as much in his New York Magazine interview.

Sorkin isn’t really any different than Diablo Cody. They’re both doing the same thing. Pumping out tons of fake clever dialogue that’s fast, topical and senseless.

Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on.

And that’s similar to what I wrote

There’s no surprises when you’re dealing with Aaron Sorkin. All the flashy caffeinated dialogue hides the hollowness of the material. It’s the razzle-dazzle behind which there’s nothing except cliches. All the energy and character is there only to give the audience the cliche that they want and to make them feel smart for hearing their own ideas spat back to them in the crackling dialogue that they wish they could do on their own.

The Unbearable Lightness of Aaron Sorkin

And obviously I’m being sarcastic when I say this, because Aaron Sorkin is doing as much research for a Steve Jobs movie as he did for his Facebook movie.

And here comes Steve Jobs, an inventor like Thomas Edison, who invented things that we really like. I think if you juxtapose that with the complicated, oftentimes very dark life that he led, there’s gonna be a story in there. Now it’s my job to find it.

Maybe the place to start is by learning enough about Steve Jobs to know why such an analogy is sorkin stupid.

Steve Jobs had mainly design patents. He wasn’t Thomas Edison, though there were some personality and business overlaps. Comparing him to Edison is just hopelessly clueless and stupid, and shows that once again Aaron Sorkin has no clue about the topic.

Jobs was not going around inventing things. He had people who did that. Mostly what he did is tweak and refine or come up with big ideas that other people developed. And while you can say that to some degree about Edison, Thomas Edison was actually an inventor at one point. Jobs was not the guy testing light bulbs, he was the guy looking for a way to deliver a product experience that he approved of.

But this is the Sorkin Problem. He doesn’t actually try to deal with reality. He doesn’t talk about what happened. He caters and he panders to a certain demographic. He tells the kind of stories that demographic wants.

That demographic wanted a better Clinton. He gave them one in the West Wing. They wanted to hear that Facebook was created by an amoral little sociopath to screw with people. He gave them that story too. They want a liberal Republican attacking Republicans, he’ll give them that too. Now they want Steve Jobs as a troubled genius and he’ll give them that too.

There’s no surprises when you’re dealing with Aaron Sorkin. All the flashy caffeinated dialogue hides the hollowness of the material. It’s the razzle-dazzle behind which there’s nothing except cliches. All the energy and character is there only to give the audience the cliche that they want and to make them feel smart for hearing their own ideas spat back to them in the crackling dialogue that they wish they could do on their own.

The whole premise of his HBO series The Newsroom is “Why don’t more people in the news say the things that we know are right.” And that’s going to be it. Episode after episode of clever dialogues that make people feel clever about what they really believe.

The unbearable lightness of Aaron Sorkin is that he has nothing to say and he admits that in the interview. He has no ideas either. Social media was bad, but now because of the Arab Spring it’s good. By the time he gets through with Steve Jobs, Wozniak won’t even exist and the iPod will be right up there with the light bulb. It’ll be complete bullshit but the target audience will eat it up, because it reinforces their version of reality.

Aaron Sorkin does not challenge audiences. He comforts them with their self-importance. That’s why Studio 60 and Sports Night didn’t work. They followed the same formula, but they didn’t appeal enough to that self-importance. The West Wing did. The Newsroom will too. And the Steve Jobs movie will tell them that their iPod and iPad were as lifechanging for the world as they were for them.

Aaron Sorkin vs The Internet

If you remember last year stuff, Aaron Sorkin was the brilliant screenwriter who turned a dork who made a social networking site into some sort of cultural touchstone with a script that was mostly made up, but a lot of people mistook for the real thing. I’m talking about The Social Network of course, which was what Anti-Trust would have been with worse actors and a 100 million worth of publicity.

So why does Aaron Sorkin hate the internet so much, and why did he jump at the opportunity to discuss a topic he doesn’t understand, just to smear someone he never met. Take a trip back in time to 2007. Yes I said 2007.

“This was nonsense,” he went on. “The Los Angeles Times should be ashamed of itself!”Next Sorkin ridiculed the whole idea that bloggers — many of whom come from parts unknown, bearing grudges, perhaps, and not always a reliable sense of who they are and what they’re really after — be taken more seriously in the mainstream media than any random josephine walking down Main Street. “An enormous rise in amateurism,” Sorkin said of the blogosphere. “And everyone’s voice oughtn’t be equal.”

And that’s what Facebook does. It makes people equal. And Twitter and the whole internet.

But Sorkin was pissed because Studio 60 was being ridiculed and NBC didn’t have the money that Sony put into convincing people that watching Jesse Eisenberg read lines like a caffeine freak wasn’t a joke.

That was 2007. A year later Sorkin was brought on board to write The Social Network, after crashing and burning with Studio 60 and Charlie Wilson’s War. It was a safe bet that he was pissed. It was also a safe bet that he resented the internet for intruding into his cozy world of Writer’s Guild awards.

The Social Network was payback to that big mass of tubes and a billionaire who to Sorkin came to represent everything in that mass of tubes that makes it hard for geniuses and their stupid vanity projects to get the respect they deserve.

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