TCA: Sorkin Defends Female Characters in ‘Newsroom'
Creator of HBO drama denies firing writing staff, is hiring paid political consultants for season two
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/1/2012 8:27:41 PM
Sorkin fought back especially the notion that The Newsroom's female characters are portrayed and professionally and personally weak, which has been one of the fiercest critiques of the series.
"I completely respect that opinion but I 100% disagree with it," he said. "The female characters are equals of the men. They're not just talked about as good at their job they're plainly seen as good at."
Sorkin cited examples like Mackenzie, the newcast's executive producer (played by Emily Mortimer), as jumping on a breaking story in the first episode and criticizing anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) for pandering, or economic correspondent Sloane (played by Olivia Munn) initially offering her promotion to primetime to someone else.
He also defended his characters as equals in making mistakes, saying that Newsroom's male characters screw up just as much as their female counterparts.
"We present Will's mission to civilize as something people always roll their eyes at and something blows up in his face," Sorkin said. "Hubris on this show is always punished.
Sorkin admitted to reading the reviews of his show, though he says he won't change the writing for season two to adjust for the criticism.
"I've only ever tried to write the way I write. I haven't tried to figure out what it is that most people will like," he said.
He also went out of the way to distinguish himself and his views from those of the characters in The Newsroom.
"Most of the time I actually write about things that I don't know much about," Sorkin said, citing his script for Moneyball, about the economics of Major League Baseball. "I get pumped full of information from people who do know what they're talking about so I can find friction and write an episode."
Though Sorkin won't be taking critics' opinions to heart when writing season two, he will be hiring a number of paid consultants from across the political spectrum to advise the show. Though he also consulted a number of top journalists before he wrote the first season, all supplied their opinions voluntarily, not as employees of the show.
Sorkin also made a point to clarify earlier incorrect reports, saying the writing staff of the show was not fired, but that a couple of staffers were let go and two writing assistants were promoted.
As for another criticism of the show, that its historical look at news coverage is condescending to the realities of breaking news, Sorkin said he made the decision to set the series in the past because he didn't want to make up fake news that an audience couldn't relate to.
"I didn't do it so that I could leverage hindsight," he said. "I like writing romantically and idealistically, but it's by no means a review of how the news was done."
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