While this may not count as the most stunning development in TV, HBO has made it official: it’s greenlighted a season of Aaron Sorkin‘s yet untitled drama set at a cable news network, starring Jeff Daniels as a talented but difficult high-profile anchor.
With little to go on but the premise and Sorkin’s history, I’m excited, and I’m nervous. Sorkin can be one of the most brilliant, acute writers in television, and he can be among the preachiest. He’s capable of telling entertaining, personal stories involving the issues of the day, but he can also use characters as mouthpieces and valorize characters whose main fault is that they just care too damn much. (Maybe one reason I liked The Social Network so much was that the subject matter naturally balanced the latter tendency.)
Cable news seems to be a subject at the exact nexus of Sorkin’s best and worst tendencies. When he’s on–in Network as well as each of his TV series–he can write perceptively about how the workings of media affect people and vice versa, and Daniels (The Squid and the Whale) is gifted at portraying rounded, faults-and-all characters. Then again, the brief HBO description of the show–“Together they set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal entanglements”–sounds like it could well fall into they-just-care-too-damn-much territory.
But I can’t read too much into it, since it’s essentially a description of every series Sorkin has ever made. Which is to say, whether I love it or hate it, I am pretty confident I will end up watching every episode.
From HBO’s announcement:
HBO PICKS UP NEW AARON SORKIN PROJECT
Untitled Aaron Sorkin Project
Series pick-up. Hour-long project.
The series centers on a cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski) and their boss (Sam Waterston). Together they set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal entanglements.
Aaron Sorkin, executive producer and pilot writer
Scott Rudin, executive producer
Alan Poul, executive producer
Greg Mottola, pilot director
Francine Maisler, casting director
Jeff Daniels as Will McAllister
Emily Mortimer as MacKenzie
Alison Pill as Maggie
John Gallagher, Jr. as Jim
Olivia Munn as Sloan
Dev Patel as Neal
Thomas Sadoski as Don
and Sam Waterston as Charlie