Aaron Sorkin on ‘The Newsroom’ and life in the ’80s

Written by By Yuki Sato, CNN Tokyo, Japan

Before he created “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin was a child of the ’80s. It was a time of music videos, new wave, computer games and nostalgia.

He was 10 years old when his father bought him his first Technics SR45 turntable and a video game cartridge that a local record store was offering for the first time: “Mortal Kombat.” Sorkin is talking about the joy of the ’80s, the era of “two-dimensional graphics” and the gangster battle of “The A-Team” with co-producer Alan Horn, then the president of 20th Century Fox.

In an interview at the publisher of his blog , Sorkin has come to try to answer these questions: “Did the music world go too fast too soon?”

Despite the ever-increasing hype surrounding the revival of the gaming industry, we find few modern pioneers to take on the challenge.

On paper, this show looks like a mash-up of the two worlds that Sorkin knows best. Doris Kearns Goodwin, the author of “Team of Rivals,” the bestseller chronicling the failed negotiations between Abraham Lincoln and his Republicans colleagues to get the abolition of slavery passed through Congress, serves as one of the consulting producers on the series. The series highlights themes of duty, patriotism and ambition as the story of the history of Donald Trump unfolds in real-time, much like Sorkin’s previous two cinematic efforts.

“Charlie Rose” airs on PBS in the US and PBS in the UK. To find out more about the US and the UK BBC schedules, visit BBC Worldwide’s website

In “The West Wing,” executive President Jed Bartlet’s staff visited his home to find out what kind of furniture he really had. When attempting to provide an honest answer about the White House, the crew failed to spot a taped-up crow on the window when they entered the Oval Office.

Yes, the venue was as beautiful as any iconic “West Wing” house, but the constant presence of clichéd scenes was jarring, for some, even painful.

“Playing live,” “The Newsroom” calls for a different approach. Rather than having members of the team spend days preparing “live” scripts for when the series goes on air, the projects is done “live” in advance. The show works because Sorkin takes for granted his filmic talents.

During the season finale of “The Newsroom,” executive producer Charlie Skinner talks to Sam Seaborn about how their in-house director is qualified for the role. Seaborn responds that he has “two movies with Bruce Willis.” Other scenes are literally pulled out of the air on a daily basis.

The original “Mortal Kombat” was a video game console and accompanying game software that changed the video game industry forever. (Think the category “physics” without the drugs or marketing campaign.) By 1985, “Mortal Kombat” was considered the top-selling video game in the world. In terms of box office sales, “Kombat” attracted nearly $400 million.

As Sorkin explained to Jane Austen — apparently an actor, given the film “Highway 61” he wrote in 1979 — the process of writing an episode of “The Newsroom” involves walking the halls of News Night with the producer watching video clips and footage clips played in order to derive individual character reactions from an ocean of information. The result of the process, he says, “is a feeling of unreality. I’d literally be walking around the newsroom, and it would become unreal.”

That so many are turning to Sorkin to respond to our contemporary age is itself a wonder. The writer is writing a TV show about a cable news network about a fictional election. “You guys want more reality,” he says, pointing to the glass and wall covering the watercooler on the set.

All the space in that office is destined for the fictional TV personalities of “The Newsroom” — the likes of Will McAvoy, Neal Sampat, Jonathan and Sloan Sabbith — who have now become so instantly recognizable that they’ve become legend. And that makes sense. Who doesn’t have their own reference point for how news works today?

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