There’s something ironic about the timing of “The Newsroom,” the new drama series created by Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) for HBO. The series, which tells the story of an anchor who decides to make his political views public, is debuting not long after Channel 10 dropped its Friday night current-events program, “This Week,” the flagship of opinionated journalism in Israel.
Former viewers of “This Week,” but not only them, will probably be delighted to make the acquaintance of Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), “the Jay Leno of the news anchors,” who decides to upset the applecart at the height of a stunning career. Based on the trailers, “The Newsroom” is bent on doing to the American press what Sorkin did so well to American politics in “The West Wing”: strip it bare. Through the personal story of McAvoy − who flies off the handle when asked by a student in a panel discussion, for the umpteenth time, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” − Sorkin wants to expose the vested interests, corruption and moral dilemmas of the media in the 21st century.
McAvoy aggressively rattles off a series of statistics about unemployment, education and other social problems in the United States. “So, when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about,” he concludes his rant. According to Sorkin, that reply suffices to transform McAvoy from the most popular anchor on television into a public enemy.
The first episode, which will premiere in the United States on June 24 (no date yet for the Israeli premiere), depicts in characteristically frenetic Sorkin style the personal and professional crisis McAvoy is plunged into. The rest of the season promises to offer critical insights about the current age of TV journalism. The hub is the requirement of the anchor to preserve an exterior posture of “objectivity,” which in the United States, as in Israel, has become synonymous with patriotism. At a time when Channel 10 decided to drop “This Week” and broadcast “Politically Correct,” which it describes as “an interview program in slippers,” it’s a safe bet that “The Newsroom” will be the most relevant series of the summer.
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