Thursday, June 21, 2012

Will The Newsroom be HBO’s next big hit?

HBO is a home for quality television.

It’s not the only home, especially given Showtime, AMC and FX’s endeavors of late – but it still reigns as king of cable.

A lot of people wondered if HBO would recover after they lost ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Six Feet Under,’ and ‘Entourage’ in relatively quick succession.

HBO did have some stumbles. ‘Hung,’ for example, turned out to be a one-season wonder, ‘Luck’ had to be cancelled out of the gate and ‘Big Love’ limped to a finish instead of sprinted – but the network was still putting quality television out there.

It just wasn’t getting the attention that it had during previous seasons so a lot of people forgot about the network. You know, out of sight, out of mind.

In recent years, though, HBO has started to rebound nicely.

‘True Blood’ was the first piece of that puzzle. And, while the show isn’t perfect, it is perfectly fun for summer viewing.

The next piece was ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ a riveting period piece that stars the always reliable Steve Buscemi. Suddenly, the mob was back in favor – and not those irritating women with orange skin and 80s hair on ‘Mob Wives.’

‘Game of Thrones’ came next and helped elevate HBO back into the stratosphere – featuring a dense back story and rich characters. Oh, and a lot of incest, but that’s another topic of conversation.

So, HBO’s newest entry into the pop culture zeitgeist is ‘The Newsroom.’

‘The Newsroom’ is a drama set at a fictional cable network, where the main character Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) returns to work after having a public meltdown to find that most of his staff has left.

The show was created by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) – so everyone can rest assured that there’s going to be some sort of political message in the programming.

One of the central themes of the show is going to be entertainment vs. news. I know that’s a question a lot of journalists ask themselves now – what is news and what is noise?

Given the fact that people like the Kardashians and those teen moms on MTV are somehow being put on the front of newspapers today – it looks like entertainment is winning.

People complain that they can’t find real news – and yet the stories that get the most hits revolve around Charlie Sheen’s meltdown or Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest.

That is the phenomenon that ‘The Newsroom’ will tackle.

Besides Daniels, the show boasts a solid cast that consists of Emily Mortimer, Olivia Munn, Alison Pill, Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda.

The Fonda casting is sure to send some individuals into a tizzy -- and Sorkin is one of those “Hollywood liberals” that is going to tick off every right-winger out there.

The thing is, newsrooms aren’t actually full of all liberals. There’s actually a balance. At least there’s a balance in this newsroom.

Sure, we have some diehard liberals. We also have some diehard republicans. Both sides kind of cancel each other out.

As a journalist, I’ve always had a perverse curiosity to see how newsrooms are portrayed on television and in the movies. Now, I understand, the newsroom here isn’t even remotely the same as the newsroom at a nightly television show – but there are still similarities.

That’s probably what I’m looking forward to the most about ‘The Newsroom.’ Logistics, baby.

My guess would be that anyone that is a diehard republican probably shouldn’t bother tuning in for Sunday’s premiere episode. Sorkin is an unapologetic liberal – and that’s going to be the way the show leans. In other words, the show will be more MSNBC than FOX News.

However, if the previews are any indication, anyone that tunes into the show might actually be able to have a good time.

Daniels and Waterston are always solid and the younger cast is experienced and endearing.

It’s too soon to tell if ‘The Newsroom’ will be another hit for HBO – but something tells me it’s got a good chance.

‘The Newsroom’ premieres at 10 p.m. on Sunday.

What do you think? Will you tune in for the premiere of ‘The Newsroom’?


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