Diane Haithman and Ray Richmond contribute to Deadline TV coverage.
2ND UPDATE: Deadline never picked up these media rumors. Today Aaron Sorkin characterized them as “unsourced and untrue” that he had fired nearly all of the writers on The Newsroom. Sorkin brought up the matter during HBO‘s presentation before anybody asked. Sorkin also said there is no truth to the second part of the rumor: That one of the writers, Corinne Kingsbury, is the only writer who was spared because she is Sorkin’s ex-girlfriend. The Daily repeated the rumors first, followed by The Hollywood Reporter. (No wonder The Daily is firing nearly 30% of its staff…) The stuff “got repeated all over the place,” Sorkin said.
“The writing staff was not fired, OK? Just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff. They are acting very strangely, they are coming to work very early … I want the old gang back. It is a fantastic group of men and women to come to work with.” Sorkin did cop to a couple of staffing changes he said were made at the end of the season but said that they were mostly promotions of two writers assistants to staff writers. (While he did not address that, there are reportedly 2 writers from Season 1 of Newsroom who are not coming back.) Sorkin also stressed that Kingsbury is not neither an ex- or current girlfriend: “She is on the staff for the same reason everyone else is on the staff.” He added: “I think she is at the beginning of a very exciting career and I would hate for this rumor impact her career or follow her around for the rest of her life,” Sorkin said of Kingsbury, adding jokingly: “That’s Kingsbury with a ‘g’.”
He added that he had no girlfriends, either previous or current, on the writing staff.
HBO at first canceled Sorkin’s TCA appearance. But Sorkin stressed afterward in the huddle that he would have none of that running and hiding from his critics. “I said, ‘No, reinstate it’,” Sorkin confirmed afterward.
“I wanted to talk to the press.”
(HBO at the time the rumors broke tried to throw cold water on them with a statement that said: “Every year each show reassesses the needs of its writing staffs. This process is nothing out of the ordinary.”)
Sorkin did say the show is in the process of adding paid consultants and said he would identify them when they are officially selected. He said their input could be “anything they want,” including their own personal stories or political expertise. After the session, Sorkin said of the consultants: “They’ll bring real experiences that they’ve had working in a newsroom. They’re also going to bring a political perspective that I don’t have. I’m hiring some really bright, interesting conservative minds who work in conservative politics who will help me bolster some conservative arguments for those moments when we talk about politics.” When asked whether the show was weaker this season because it lacked the conservative voices, he said: “I don’t, I don’t.”
Sorkin was also asked to address the decidedly mixed critical response to the show. “For sure we all know that there were critics who did not enjoy watching the first four episodes,” he said, to laughter. “ And there were critics that did. Obviously you’d prefer the praise be unanimous, but any time people are talking this much about a television show, it’s good for television, for people who watch TC, and people who work in TV.” He added that at HBO the entire season is in the can before the first episode airs so he cannot be tempted to tinker in order to please the critics. After the session, Sorkin said of his critics: “I don’t want to have an adversarial relationship with the press. I get that there are people who don’t like the show and are writing honestly about the show. But I don’t want to have that adversarial feeling.” He added: “I have to write the way I write and not write to change other people’s minds, because if 999 people like the show and one doesn’t, I will abandon those 999 people and try to get that one person to like me.”
Sorkin also spoke about the frequent criticism that his women characters, instead of coming across as smart and savvy, are ditzy. “I completely respect that opinion but I 100% disagree with it. They are every bit the equals of men. We plainly see them being good at their jobs.” He added that they evidence qualities of selflessness, caring, ambition and other qualities. If those are present, he said, “you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want.”
Sorkin, who appeared on the panel with star Jeff Daniels and executive producer Alan Poul, said the show would continue to focus on real news stories that are 9 to 18 months old. The panel also revealed that this Sunday’s episode will deal with the night Osama Bin Laden is killed.