The replacement of news values with entertainment values that Network had predicted was pretty much complete by the time James L. Brooks skewered the TV news business in Broadcast News. Sure, there are still dedicated and smart journalists like Jane (Holly Hunter), who spends much of the movie in Cassandra mode giving ignored rants about the imminent demise of broadcast journalism due to crumbling standards, or Aaron (Albert Brooks), who is knowledgeable, but whose gusher of on-air flop sweat guarantees that he’ll never be an anchor.
Rather, the future is newsmen like Tom (William Hurt, in a rare dimwit role), whose blond attractiveness and Method-acting ability to cry on demand make him destined for TV news stardom. A workplace romantic triangle seems inevitable (Aaron pines for Jane, but even though she respects Aaron and scorns Tom, she has romantic eyes only for the latter), but the movie is realistic enough not to let any of these three end up together.
On the job, Jane and Aaron make doing the right thing seem exciting and fun (as in the celebrated sequence where the two finish editing a report at the last minute, forcing underling Joan Cusack to sprint through an office obstacle course to get the tape into the broadcast on time), but the movie’s true thoughts about the business seem to come out in the portrayal of top network anchor Bill Rorish (Jack Nicholson). When he laments the budget cuts that will lead to massive layoffs that will decimate the news staff, a subordinate suggests that the jobs could be saved if Bill would give up part of his multimillion-dollar salary. Nicholson glares daggers, and the idea is never broached again.
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