Keith Olbermann anyone? Actually, Jeff Daniels‘ news anchor, at the start of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom” (June 24), is an upstanding objective news anchor without political bias until he completely loses it–under video grilling that goes viral. Like Peter Finch in Sidney Lumet’s 1976 “Network,” he’s mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. Daniels (“The Squid and the Whale”) is a terrific actor; I first met him at the start of his career, playing Debra Winger’s husband Flap, on the set of “Terms of Endearment” in 1982.
Clearly, “The Newsroom” gives show creator Sorkin (who won an Oscar for “The Social Network” and was nominated with Steve Zaillian for “Moneyball”) free rein to go to town on everything that piques him about American politics and culture; this makes “West Wing” and “Sports Night” look like mere preambles. Bring it on.
The trailer sets up the major players led by Daniels, with Emily Mortimer in the Holly Hunter role from “Broadcast News,” avuncular Sam Waterston as Daniels’ news boss and Jane Fonda in a role that could have been played by “Network”‘s Faye Dunaway. (His newsroom staff are John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel and Olivia Munn.) Scott Rudin (“A Social Network”) and Alan Poul (“Six Feet Under”) are also executive producers.
It’s great to see Fonda back; next up she plays Nancy Reagan in “Precious” director Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” a casting choice that has typically been excoriated because she’s such a notorious Liberal. Is Fonda not an Oscar-winning chameleon who came up in Hollywood along with one-time ingenue Nancy Davis, who was once under contract at MGM? Please.