Actor Josh Charles reprised his anchor role from TV series Sports Night during a visit to America's sports news network ESPN2. The Good Wife star reverted back to one of his earliest roles as Dan Rydell, an anchor on a fictional news sports show in the shortlived Aaron Sorkin series.
Charles' pal, TV presenter Keith Olbermann, invited the actor to join him at the newsdesk last week (ends29Mar14).
The two ran down the day's highlights in sports, even referencing Sorkin as well as Charles' personal favourite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles.
Sports Night, which ran for three seasons before it was cancelled in 2000, also starred Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman and Robert Guillaume.
This year at the Oscars, Aaron Sorkin took home a golden statue for his screenplay for The Social Network. Odds are, Aaron Sorkin is not a name with which you are entirely unfamiliar. Even if you had no idea that he wrote The Social Network, you’ve probably either seen or, at the very least heard of, The West Wing. This long-running drama about the behind-the-scenes goings on of the White House and the president’s inner sanctum was as critically acclaimed as it was commercially successful.
Unfortunately, and despite the naked, gold man now staring back at him from his mantle, success is something that often eluded Sorkin early on; especially in the realm of television. In addition to The West Wing, Sorkin produced two shows, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, that didn’t make it past a second or even an inaugural season respectively. Even if you don’t count yourself an avid fan of Sorkin, these two shows are sterling examples of top-notch television demanding and deserving of your attention.
Sports Night and Studio 60 both revolve around the high-stress world of producing live television shows; something clearly residing comfortably inside Sorkin’s wheelhouse. Sports Night, as its name suggests, takes place in the universe of late-night sportscasting. The lead anchors of this third-place highlight show are Dan Rydell (Josh Charles) and Casey McCall (Peter Krause). Charles is probably best known for his adolescent turn as Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society while Krause forced us all to take notice as one of the leads in HBO’s Six Feet Under. The two of them have the amazing back-and-forth chemistry of lifelong friends and they lend a certain unique and honest perspective as to how the on-air camaraderie of sportscasters can be informed by their history together.
What’s interesting about Sports Night is that it features many of the great Sorkin tropes but presented in such a way as to demonstrate how clueless the networks initially were as to how to package his comedies. This was his first show, and his style was clearly at odds with the ABC sitcom blueprint. Despite the breakneck conversational tennis match that comprised almost all of the dialogue and the severity of the drama into which it often chose to delve, Sports Night is the only Sorkin series to feature a laugh track. It could not feel more like a producer’s note and gives certain moments of the series a very inauthentic quality. Despite this misstep, Sports Night is an amazing viewing experience that adroitly juggles heavy drama with cathartic humor. Luckily, the laugh track doesn’t last…unfortunately neither did Sports Night.
After Sorkin’s first run at TV fell flat, he effectively chalked up a win in this column with The West Wing. As if endowed with a renewed confidence in his roots, Sorkin unleashed Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which chronicled the inner workings of a weekly comedy variety show. Much like Sports Night, Studio 60 features an outstanding ensemble cast anchored by two creative characters that are also lifelong friends. In this case, they are two comedy writer/producers played by Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. The way these two work off each other is an extension of the relationship between Dan and Casey on Sports Night and arguably an improvement upon it. Studio 60 also benefits from the fact that most of its character roster is made up of people who work in comedy so the laughs are effortless at times, but shockingly and intensely layered at others.
There are two big differences between Sports Night and Studio 60. The first is that by the time Sorkin made Studio 60, he had really hit his stride and the network knew exactly how to present his material for maximum effect…or so they thought. There is no laugh track in Studio 60 and the drama is as warmly embraced as a pratfall or one of Matthew Perry’s signature buffoonish double-takes; one of my favorite things about his style of comedy.
The second difference between the two is inherent in the pilot episodes. In Sports Night, we sort of hit the ground running with an entity (the show within the show) that is already well established and constantly moving so we are introduced in the middle of the story and have to hold on for the ride. Studio 60 on the other hand starts with the colossal collapse of the show within the show and the network’s desperate race to save it from extinction. We are forced to watch something rise from absolute ruin piece by piece. This upheaval accounts for the punch-in-the-gut of what I truly feel is one of the greatest pilots of all time.
So if it’s so good, why was Studio 60 binned after one season? Turns out somebody at NBC had the brilliant idea to launch Studio 60 at exactly the same time as 30 Rock. So audiences were forced to choose between a wacky, broadly drawn show (but still well-written to give credit where credit is due) loosely based on SNL and a cerebral, highbrow deconstruction of SNL. You do the math. While Studio 60 was just removed from Netflix Instant, both seasons of Sports Night were recently added. It would behoove you to shell out a few coins to purchase the first, and only season of Studio 60 and give Sports Night a spin on Netflix. These two shows represent the great potential of television writing, especially in the hands of a mad genius like Aaron Sorkin.
On Monday, the Director's Guild of America announced their nominees for best director for a TV movie: the honorees are Billy Crystal for 61*, Robert Allan Ackerman for Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Jon Avnet for Uprising, Frank Pierson for Conspiracy and Mark Rydell for James Dean. The DGA Awards will be presented March 9.
Meg Ryan will soon begin filming Against the Ropes--a story based on Jackie Kallen, the first female boxing manager--with Omar Epps co-starring and Charles Dutton directing, Variety reports. Kallen led a total of four middleweights to championships.
Kevin Spacey's production company Trigger Street Prods. will see their first documentary, Uncle Frank, on the big screen soon. The Berlin Intl. Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, will present the film--along with several others--as a special screening, Variety reports. Uncle Frank takes a look at old people's homes in New York.
Catherine Zeta-Jones will soon be the new face of Elizabeth Arden and apparently both parties are happy about the contract, People reports. A spokesperson for Arden said the beautiful 32-year-old Welsh actress "is the epitome of personal style." Zeta-Jones gushed, "I am proud to be part of the company."
Looks like more than Patriot fans walked away happy from Sunday's Super Bowl. Neither advertisers nor Fox can complain about the 86.8 million TV viewer average, the Los Angeles Times reports. The toughest competition was NBC's halftime Playboy Playmate episode of Fear Factor, which only held a mere 11.4 million viewers captive. Approximately 83 million watched U2's half-time tribute to the Sept. 11 victims.
Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita Jordan have announced they will "attempt a reconciliation," Reuters reports. After 12 years of marriage, Juanita cited irreconcilable differences as reason for the couple's split, but has now withdrawn her divorce petition.
Just because he's no longer the acting President of the United States, Bill Clinton still has fun playing politics. Saturday, Clinton attended a birthday party for a former staffer where he hobnobbed with senators, and Sunday, he hosted a Super Bowl party for guests ranging from Chris Tucker to Alec Baldwin, PageSix.com reports. Just in time for a nightcap, Mr. Clinton picked up a 10:30 p.m. cocktail at the Waldorf to raise money for his William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
HBO is moving up its movie version of The Laramie Project, starring Janeane Garofalo and Steve Buscemi, to March 9 from March 16 because the latter date happens to coincide with NBC's premiere of The Matthew Shepard Story, starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston, the LA Times reports. What's the big deal? The two movies recount the same incident--the 1998 murder of gay college student Sam Shepard--and the networks don't want to compete for viewers.
Tune in to MTV on Valentine's Day if your heart beats true blue--red, white and blue, that is. Secretary of State Colin Powell will sit down with youths across the globe to answer questions on politics and current events. Powell will take questions from people at MTV locations around the world, and the program will be translated into multiple languages.
The WB is getting ready for their fall line-up, complete with comedies and dramas aplenty. And though about the same number of pilot shows will be produced this year as last by the WB, the focus is very clearly on "family and teen appeal," Variety reports.
Pay-per-view (PPV) movies that have had a theatrical release seem to be the most popular items on PPV these days, as revenues for released movies jumped 54% to $1.354 billion, Variety reports. Live events, such as boxing and wrestling, have fallen on hard times, due to lack of headliners (boxing) and market consolidation (wrestling).
As Moulin Rouge premiered in London on Monday, attention seemed to be on the film's star, Nicole Kidman. According to Reuters, Kidman told reporters that she is considering a return to the British stage and has talked to director Sam Mendes about the possibility. She said the play would probably be at the Donmar Warehouse, the same theater where she made her London debut in The Blue Room.
Prince Charles, who attended the premiere, took time to chat with Kidman and said he was interested to see what the sequined cancan dancers had to do. The dancers were there as part of the glitzy British premiere.
Kidman also turned heads last week when she appeared at the Venice Film Festival with Italian film producer Fabrizio Mosca. This is the first time Kidman has dated publicly since her divorce from Tom Cruise was finalized Aug. 8. The two were also spotted holding hands at the Cannes festival in May.
New Yorker magazine film critic Pauline Kael died on Monday at her home in Massachusetts after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Reuters reports. Kael, 82, grew up in San Francisco and began writing about film in 1955, supplying detailed notes on the movies she programmed while running the Berkley Cinema Guild and Studio. She began writing for the New Yorker in the mid-1960s. She retired in 1991 after her Parkinson's disease worsened. She told Modern Maturity magazine that she felt she had nothing new to say. "Old critics tend to be tiresome," she said. "I didn't want to be one of those old farts."
Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Smits will co-host the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards to be broadcast on Sept. 11 from the Forum in Los Angeles on CBS. Michael Greene, President/CEO of the Recording Academy and the Latin Recording Academy also announced that Marc Anthony will performing as well as and Destiny's Child.
A free concert in Hollywood featuring alt-rock band System of A Down went awry Monday night after fans went on a rampage. The trouble began after many more concertgoers than were expected turned up for the show to be held outside the club Vinyl. When it appeared that the band was not going to perform after all, the fans rioted. According to Reuters, the audience trashed the stage set up in the venue's parking lot and threw rocks and bottles at police who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Six people were arrested and charged with various offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism and receiving stolen property. The group was promoting their new album Toxicity, which is due in stores on Tuesday.
Courtney Love and Don Henley will attend a hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday to denounce California's 1987 amendment that allows music labels to sue artists for undelivered albums after seven years. Opponents of the amendment claim artists are often strong-armed into accepting impossible terms when signing record contracts.
Jerry Lewis' 36th annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon raised a record $56.8 million this Labor Day weekend, the Associated Press reports. The show featured a variety of celebrity co-hosts including Ed McMahon, Norm Crosby and Casey Kasem.
The American Film Institute will announce on Tuesday plans to hold its own awards show in January on CBS, according to AP. Scheduled for Jan. 5, the event will occur two weeks before the Golden Globes and two months before the Academy Awards. The AFI will also honor TV's best drama and comedy series, as well as name the top 10 movies of the year.
Billboard announced last week the winners of its first R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, AP reports. Misiq Soulchild led the winners with four awards, while R. Kelly took home three. Other winners include Shaggy, Jill Scott and OutKast.
Steven Spielberg will not be attending the Venice Film Festival this year because of religious commitments, Reuters reports. Spielberg has instead sent a seven-minute video to festival organizers to be shown before the screening of his film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Spielberg said his son's Bar Mitzvah, as well putting finishing touches on his latest film Minority Report, have kept him from attending the festival. A.I. will screen in Venice on Sept. 6.
Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys' record label, is closing its doors after eight years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the label blamed mounting debts, decreasing assets and exceedingly harsh industry conditions for the closure. The Beastie Boys founded Grand Royal in 1993 and were the first top-selling artists to form an independent record label.
ABC is planning a follow-up to the 1978 hit movie Grease, which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, BBC News reports. The film would drop in on the characters 20 years after the first Grease, which was set at mythical Rydell High School in the 1950s. Didi Conn, who played high school dropout Frenchy, will be producing the film. Conn said that viewers would learn about the original characters through their children.