Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Creator and exec producer Aaron Sorkin gave a rough layout of how the forthcoming second season of his polarizing HBO cable news drama The Newsroom will play out in terms of covering real-life stories. He told an SRO crowd at PaleyFest 2013 in Beverly Hills tonight that Season 2 will pick up a week after where Season 1 ends and ticked off the topics he’s tackling on the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN): “The Tea Party/American Taliban, the General Election including the primaries and conventions, Trayvon Martin, the Affordable Care Act, and drones.” He said he’s still unsure whether the Newtown school shootings will be included when the show returns with fresh episodes in June. “That’s a tough thing to write about without minimizing or exploiting it or spreading Cheez Whiz around it. It’s a profoundly important moment, and the last thing you want to do is handle it poorly.” Sorkin explained the show “would simply stop our narrative before” it took place. Sorkin also maintained tonight that he doesn’t want Season 2 to polarize viewers or critics as much. “I hope some of the critics who weren’t happy with the first season will take a look at the second and maybe reassess their opinion,” he said. “But no one has ever won a fight with a television critic, and I doubt that I’ll be the first one.” Executive producer Alan Poul added that part of the problem critics and viewers may have with The Newsroom is that it’s in fact entertainment. “Some people get confused,” he said. “It looks and sounds like news. The set feels like news. So people think we’re re-creating the news. But we’re not.”
Sorkin also was joined onstage by star Jeff Daniels (Will McAvoy), Sam Waterston (Charlie Skinner), Emily Mortimer (MacKenzie McHale), John Gallagher, Jr. (Jim Harper), Alison Pill (Maggie Jordan), Thomas Sadoski (Don Keefer), Olivia Munn (Sloan Sabbith) and Dev Patel (Neal Sampat). One plot point that was all but confirmed will have Don (Sadoski) and Sloan (Munn) hooking up during the season.
With CNN’s Piers Morgan moderating, there was plenty of talk about the role of journalists. But when Morgan praised CNN’s recent highly rated but widely panned coverage of the Carnival cruise ship, Sorkin wondered why that much attention couldn’t be paid to sequester cuts. The crowd applauded. Morgan shot back that there’s no way it “could be made sexy”. Morgan asked Pill about working with both Woody Allen and Sorkin and who was the better writer. Hemming and hawing, she said, “It isn’t that Woody doesn’t have a vision. It’s just that, if you don’t get it, you’re not going to – and Aaron is so about making his vision contagious.”