THE NEWSROOM Season 3 Trailer Hits Home

Yesterday, HBO released the trailer for the third and final season of critically-acclaimed series The Newsroomdropping hints that the subject matter will deal with the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. Without a doubt, Aaron Sorkin will be able to carefully craft this convoluted event, taking into account the various repercussions of media outlets using public tweets as facts in their developing stories.

Take a look at the trailer here:

Looking at the events that have unfolded over the past two years, its almost impossible that the series won’t cover the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which departed on March 8, 2014. While this is a rather recent event, I wonder if Sorkin and the team at HBO had enough time to fit this into the season. If they do incorporate this into their final season story arc, it would only be fitting for world-traveler and tragic-lover Maggie to board the doomed flight, after missing a phone call from star-crossed lover Jim, in which he intended to declare his love for her. Hey, Mr. Sorkin, if you’re looking for any writers for your future projects, look no further!

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Why Are The Emmys Honoring Rape Scenes?

Before reading this, please note that I am not trying to take a stance on whether rape should or should not be portrayed on television. I understand that it is a severe crime that happens all too frequently in the world, but I also understand that it has become a go-to plot line for many of today’s most popular and critically acclaimed series.

To begin, let me note that four of the six nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series play characters who are raped on the screen. Anna Gunn, as Skyler White in Breaking Bad, is raped by her husband in Season Two, as he attempts to take out his pent up rage in the couple’s kitchen. Joanne Froggatt, as Anna Bates in Downton Abbeycaused two waves of controversy – once when Season Four’s fourth episode was released in the UK and again when it aired in the US – when her character is violently raped in the servants’ quarters. It was one of those scenes that never seemed to end. Christina Hendricks, as Joan Holloway Harris in Mad Men, is raped by her husband when he drunkenly visits her in her office. Lena Headey, as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, is raped by her brother and secret lover Jamie beside the corpse of their dead son, Joffrey.

Emmys domestic violenceStills from TV series "Mad Men"

Each of these incidents mark a powerful character arc for the women involved, who end up forever scarred by the attacks.

After the nominations were announced, many fans of Scandal took to the Internet to vent about the snub of Bellamy Young in the same category. She portrays the First Lady of the United States, Melody “Mellie” Fitzgerald, who is raped by her father-in-law in a flashback.

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Another show that garnered a lot of attention from the Television Academy this year was FX’s American Horror Story: Coven, raking in 17 nominations. This twelve episode mini-series includes three separate rape scenes – the victims being Madison Montgomery, Queenie, and Kyle Spencer.

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Again, I do not believe I am qualified to judge whether or not these scenes should be so prevalent on our television screens, but it seems as though today’s most complex narratives are involving rape, and the actresses portraying the victims seem to be getting recognition for their work. Is it good that these women are helping to expose crimes that they are often forced to keep secret? In the example of Anna Bates, a married woman living in the 1920s, admission of being raped would mar her reputation and Lord Grantham would have no other option but to relieve her of her duties in order to avoid a scandal (something that household knows a thing or two about). On the other hand, is it becoming too normalized? Should we have expected Madison Montgomery to have been raped at the frat party?

I apologize if this post was a little heavier than usual, but I saw the trend in the nominations and thought it would be interesting to bring up.

FLASHBACK: STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP

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During my screenwriting class last semester, our professor showed us the teaser to Aaron Sorkin’s pilot for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and I was in awe. First of all, they introduce us to flustered production assistant, scurrying around the studio moments before the broadcast of a fictional variety show – think SNL on the West Coast…and on Fridays…and on a fictional network, NBS. Anyways, this PA turns out to be none other than my favorite actress at the moment, Merritt Wever! But back in 2006, she didn’t have her Emmy.

Anyway, the show follows veteran comedy duo Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) as they are called back to the variety show that helped define their careers. Matt is somewhat hesitant to return to Studio 60 because his ex, Harriett Hayes (Sarah Paulson) is now the show’s star, alongside Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley) and Tom Jeter (Nate Corddrey).

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

To complicate matters, NBS has just hired a new president, Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), an attractive, young, sensible woman who doesn’t have the social wits about her. Sound like another Aaron Sorkin character to you? Sloan Sabbith, anyone? And that’s not the only Sorkin staple he throws into this show. The power outage right before airtime? The same problem plagues The Newsroom staff before News Night with Will McAvoy. The show also executes Sorkin’s famous “walk and talk” scenes, as made famous in The West Wing.

The combination of writing in acting in this show is surprisingly succinct for an NBC drama, but the lack of ratings and the promising comedy 30 Rock kept Studio 60 from being renewed for a second season. In its one season, however, Sarah Paulson was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, a well-deserved nod that put the show on the map too late in the game.

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If you’re interested in watching, you’ll have a tough time finding it online. I found the complete series at Newbury Comics for nine bucks – quite the bargain compared to my subsequent Chipotle lunch.

PHIL SPECTOR Review

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Last night, HBO premiered their highly anticipated film, Phil Spector, chronicling the infamous music producer’s 2003 murder trial.

Academy Award winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) plays the tainted title character who seeks counsel from a sickly, hardball lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, played by fellow Oscar winner, Helen Mirren (The Queen).

The film opens on Linda Baden being summoned into the law office of Bruce Cutler, played by Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) to take on Spector’s case. She doesn’t take keenly to the idea, writing him off as guilty from the start.

“They let OJ go, they let Michael Jackson go, they will not let him go!” she says, trying to be realistic.

However, her attitude towards her client begins to change when she visits his grand estate, guarded by a metal fence and barbed wire. Time and time again, she questions why “the minotaur lives in a cave,” and comes to conclude his innocence.

She does everything in her power to prep him for the opening statements of the trial and soon their relationship develops to a very caring, but platonic friendship.

Director and screenwriter David Mamet may or may not have meant to stir up the controversy that has accompanied this film.

HBO opened the television movie with the following message:

“This is a work of fiction. It’s not ‘based on a true story.’ It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial.”

After watching the film, it is clear that Mamet does not intend to rewrite the verdict, but he certainly does sympathize with Spector, who is able to convince the once narrow-minded Baden.

During their mock trial session before he appears before a jury, Pacino delivers a powerful monologue where he declares, “They kill men for telling the truth. This is the truth!” This causes Baden to finally reconsider her client’s guilt.
 
That being said, the film closes on Baden on the night after the trials opening, as she is terrified to know that he is an innocent man and that the odds are not in his favor.

Pacino and Mirren both give Emmy-worthy performances in this HBO television movie, which will surely be widely nominated, come September.