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).

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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.

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THE NEWSROOM’s Michael Gunn

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Boston University alum Michael Gunn held a showing of The Newsroom season two premiere tonight at the College of Communication and I was lucky enough to attend. Gunn, who networked his way into becoming a production assistant for the show’s pilot back in 2011, has since been promoted to staff writer, and is credited for his work in the show’s second season.

Although I had never seen The Newsroom – or Aaron Sorkin’s other masterpiece, The West Wing – I was amazed by how carefully each scene of the hour long drama was crafted in order to promote active watching. A sitcom like Modern Family will throw a joke at you and you’ll be expected to get it. Sorkin, however, likes to weed out his audience by making them think, and I was amazed to see that this drama was actually hysterical.

And so, I set off on my Sorkin quest. I’ll start with the easy, two seasons of The Newsroom. What will be difficult is the seven seasons of The West Wing – each with a network television drama count of 20+ episodes per season. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, friends. Oh yeah, and midterms are coming… I feel like there should be an HBO related meme for that to close this post:

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