When Aaron Sorkin, writer of much loved and much maligned HBO series “The Newsroom,” sat before the Television Critics Association Wednesday, the floodgates opened and a wave of critiques gushed forward. Sorkin held his ground well, referencing scenes critics cited nearly verbatim.
On whether he’d consider making any changes to the show in light of the tough reviews, he said both good and bad reviews are “good for television,” and even if he wanted to change the writing, HBO locks in the entire season before airing the first episode. “Even if you are tempted to try to write a little bit differently to please the people or change someone’s mind, you can’t do it,” he said. Sorkin said his process for writing for TV doesn’t differ from writing for film. Essentially, he’s writing a play, “that a very brilliant director… will come along and make it visually interesting.”
Sorkin came under fire for his treatment of female characters, to which he replied, “I completely respect that opinion, but I a hundred percent disagree with it. I think that the female characters on the show are, first of all, every bit the equals of the men.”
He also took the opportunity to set the record straight regarding a recent “unsourced and untrue” article that claimed his writing staff was fired. “Just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff,” he joked. “They are acting very strange. They are coming to work early. They are being I don’t know like, polite to me, and I want the old gang back.”
Though he was hardly addressed during the panel, lead actor Jeff Daniels jumped in to defend Sorkin: “One of the things I like about Aaron’s writing — and then I’ll shut up — is that all of his characters, men and women, have flaws.” Later, Daniels was asked what he thought of critics’ love/hate relationship with the show. “You don’t do it for me, and you never have,” he told the audience. “It took me a long time as an actor to stop reading you… That’s kind of the approach you have to have just to survive as an actor.”