The news of Aaron Sorkin’s disappearance from the writing credits of a production about the art of escapology reads like a shrewd meta-marketing strategy. Reported on Deadline yesterday, it is in fact a rather feeble casualty of circumstances, with Sorkin jumping ship from Broadway’s upcoming “Houdini” musical to concentrate on the currently shooting second season of his “The West Wing“-esque walk-and-talk drama, “The Newsroom.”
The playwright and screenwriter famed for his mastery of dialogue – not to mention engineering a generation’s love of pop politics – Sorkin was billed to make his debut as librettist on the musical, which will star a freshly sans-culottes Hugh Jackman, whose Jean Valjean earned significant praise in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables.” While the writer sustains a turnover rate of which Henry Ford would have been proud (he has written eight movies and four television shows since 1990), Sorkin can be forgiven for having over-filled his plate in 2013. “The Newsroom,” which faces an uphill struggle with audience disillusionment, is scheduled for a second season premiere in June, while he juggles the formidable and hotly topical biopic of the life and career of Steve Jobs for Sony.
Sorkin’s influence on the “Houdini” project will not go uncredited; negotiations are underway to capitalise on his conceptual contributions, such that the remaining production team of Stephen Schwartz, Scott Sanders and David Rockwell can take the wheel onto Broadway, where it is pencilled in for an opening in the 2013-14 season. Sorkin or no Sorkin, we will still hear the people sing.