Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Aaron Sorkin is back!  I loved THE NEWSROOM.  It's the perfect vehicle for his whip-smart dialogue.  (It was also nice to see the wonderful Emily Mortimer finally not in a thankless role.)

But essentially THE NEWSROOM was BROADCAST NEWS as written by Aaron Sorkin.  James L. Brooks wrote that terrific movie along with co-creating THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.  So that got me thinking -- what if Aaron Sorkin wrote THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW?   Here, with great affection for Mr. Sorkin, is how I envision what a scene might look like: 



SUE ANN: Hello, union mules. I’m in a wonderful mood. Care to guess why?

MURRAY: You just learned you’re not part of the 17.8% of the population that has a venereal disease?

SUE ANN: Oh, Murray. Oh -- bald, condescending, working drone under the delusion that your pension will cover you in retirement despite inflation now at 4.3% while the cost of living rises at a rate of 11.5% -- Murray, you should be more worried than I. Those statistics are even higher for homosexuals.

MURRAY: I’m not gay.

SUE ANN: Oh, Murray. Oh – confused, indignant, cross dressing – Murray. We’re a more tolerant nation now.

MURRAY: Tell that to Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Merv Griffin, Cesar Romero, Waylon & Madame...

MARY: Merv Griffin?

MURRY: So I hear.

MARY: Who’s your source?

MURRAY: That’s confidential.

MARY: Is he reliable?

MURRAY: Who said it’s a he?

MARY: It’s a she?

MURRAY: I’m not saying that.

MARY: Then it is s a he.

SUE ANN: Unless it’s both.


LOU: It was Joan Rivers who Murray bumped into in the owner’s box at Metropolitan Stadium where the Twins were hosting the Tigers and beat them 4-2 on a come-from-behind double by Cesar Tovar. Time of game: 2:55. Paid attendance: 23,710.

MARY: Joan Rivers?  That still doesn’t answer whether the source was a he or she?

SUE ANN: Or whether Cesar Tovar is related to Caesar Romero?

MARY: One’s with an extra ‘a’.

MURRY: How did you know, Lou? It was a private conversation. There was no one else in the suite. I’ve never told a living person.

LOU: I’m smart. Everyone who's smart on this show knows everything.


TED: Lou, what is the name of that big glowing thingy in the sky? I think I saw it again.

LOU: That’s the sun, Ted.

TED: I knew you’d know, Lou. (then) Are you sure?

SUE ANN: Doesn’t anyone want to know why I’m in such a good mood?

MURRAY: Or why Cesar Tovar is missing an ‘a’?

TED: You got laid.

MURRAY:  Wow.  When even the dumb guy gets it...

LOU: You met a drunk insurance salesman at that new Tex-Mex place on Marquette – Diablo Cody’s. He was despondent that the life expectancy in the U.S. just climbed to 71.2, which means unless rates went up another 3.676548% the insurance industry will lose $6.2 billion this year and $8.5 the next. So you fellated him.

SUE ANN: You bet your missing ‘a’!

TED: Can I talk now?

MURRAY: I don’t know, Ted. Can you?

TED: Lou, he’s being insubordinating again.

LOU: What is it, Ted?

TED:  Standing at the mirror doing my two-hour brow exercises this morning I came to a major revolution. News is boring. Our government does this, our soldiers are fighting that – who cares? What we need, in my humble but influenza opinion is this –  bias. We should skew the news to what I believe in and ignore the rest.

MURRAY: But you’re an idiot, Ted.

TED: I like to think of myself as a registered voter. 

SUE ANN: Now that I think about it, Aetna has an extra ‘a’.

MURRAY:  That's a ridiculous idea, Ted.  Worse even than you hosting a special on finding Al Capone's vault.  

LOU: Not so fast, Murray.  Ted, you may just have something there.

TED: I do?  I mean, I do

MARY: What? Oh, Mr. Grant!

LOU: No, no. Hear me out. America places 36th in literacy, 165th in attention span, 78th in learning English and there are only 73 English speaking countries, but we're 3rd in world ignorance.

TED: (proudly) God bless the U.S..

MURRAY: You’re missing another ‘a’.

LOU: We’re getting killed in the ratings by WHEEL OF FORTUNE…

SUE ANN: Doesn’t Merv Griffin own that show?

TED: He’s queer, y’know.

LOU: Maybe a newscast by a moron for morons is just where this country is heading.


TED: And I'm the right man for the job!

MURRAY: But you can’t do that!

LOU: We gotta do something.

MURRAY: It’s wrong! It’s immoral!

SUE ANN: Immoral is fun!

MURRAY: What about integrity?

SUE ANN: I’m now covered for fire and floods.

TED: It’s my show. And I should be able to say what I want even if I don’t know what I’m saying!

LOU: Look, we’re fighting for our lives here. We’re only ten years away from cable television.


MARY: Stop this! Quiet! All of you! I can't stand this any longer!


MARY: Do any of you know how hard it is to be a single woman in 1972?

TED: It’s 1972?

MARY: Shut up, Ted! Do you know how hard it is to be single, alone, and yes, I’m beautiful and wear fabulous clothes, but despite the propaganda to the contrary, there is a glass ceiling for women and it’s lower than the moon roof on a Nova hatchback. According to the Horner study, we women internalize that high achievement will be rewarded in a fair society when in truth we are deceiving ourselves and sacrificing a part of our souls, not to mention our identities. The survey concluded that most women in the corporate world from the late ‘60s to early ‘70s would ultimately choose the traditional sex-role stereotype when faced with conflict between their feminine image and expressing their competence and interests. How sad is that?  How completely dispiriting?  And I can’t find a man! Even with my looks! Any yet, I refuse to give up my sunny disposition. I refuse to bow to the insidious cynicism that is creeping into our collective consciousness. And I refuse to blow insurance salesmen in order to have a social life! Or home protection! I may not be getting paid, and I may not be getting laid, but I am doing something important. I’m helping to inform the public. I’m helping to ensure that when it comes time to choose the leaders who will determine the very future for us and our children – well, your children. It doesn’t look like I’m having any anytime soon. But when we’re asked to make those crucial decisions, I want to make sure we're responsibly and accurately informed. Just because ceilings are glass doesn't mean windows have to be... although, yes, most of them are.  But you get the idea.  And you want to talk about ‘a’s that don’t belong – what do you need an ‘a’ in Murray for?


MURRAY: Wow.  If I wasn’t gay I’d do her in a second.



Steve from Vermont said...

Okay, that's just brilliant. Seems to me there should be a reboot of MTM for the 2010s... staring Claire Danes in the MTM role, Michael Imperioli in the Lou Grant role, Josh Hartnet as Ted, Tina Fey as Sue Ann, and Sean Hayes as Murray.

Lars Lindstrom said...

That really was terrific! (But are you SURE you really like Aaron Sorkin?)

Oh, please. Really? said...

I heard that same conversation at Starbucks yesterday afternoon...

pumpkinhead said...

I've always enjoyed watching actors channel other actors. I just discovered I enjoy watching writers channel other writers too. That was awesome.

Mark said...

Great spontaneous speech from Mary.

I somehow picture Bradly Whitford hovering in the background, eager to get a word in.

Steve Kmetko said...

I want to see THAT episode!

Al said...

I love that even written by "Aaron Sorkin", Ted Baxter is still an idiot.

Ed B. said...

...and this is why I live for this blog. I'm a huge Sorkin fan and I grew up watching a lot of what Ken Levine wrote. To me, this is like a mash-up of Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain (except it's funnier).

Emmett Flatus said...

Sorkin sucks. Cue Murray...

Michael said...

The big question: did they do a walk-and-talk at any time during this scene?

Anonymous said...

Note to Ken: (this might actually be a Friday question, or a topic) Dead on. *And* entertaining. But Ken brought up a thought I've had for a long time (especially with the MTM Show) with the line "even though I wear fabulous clothes..." Although I loved (and still love watching the reruns) MTM, I noticed that the shows starting getting more "meh" about 3-4 seasons in, when Mary started wearing more-fabulous clothes, moved into a more-fabulous apartment, started wearing more-fabulous hair. The writing seemed to take a different direction, too -- more slick, more "L.A." It kinda seemed to lose a good bit of its original charm. Kinda like when Mike and Greg got perms on "The Brady Bunch." I even noticed the same thing as "The Bob Newhart Show" and even "That Girl" about halfway into their runs (you could probably argue Cher into that too when she went all Bob Mackie on "The Sonny & Cher Show". It wasn't exactly jumping the shark, but still ...

ScottyB said...

Note to Ken: (this might actually be a Friday question, or a topic) Dead on. *And* entertaining. But Ken brought up a thought I've had for a long time (especially with the MTM Show) with the line "even though I wear fabulous clothes..." Although I loved (and still love watching the reruns) MTM, I noticed that the shows starting getting more "meh" about 3-4 seasons in, when Mary started wearing more-fabulous clothes, moved into a more-fabulous apartment, started wearing more-fabulous hair. The writing seemed to take a different direction, too -- more slick, more "L.A." It kinda seemed to lose a good bit of its original charm. Kinda like when Mike and Greg got perms on "The Brady Bunch." I even noticed the same thing as "The Bob Newhart Show" and even "That Girl" about halfway inyo their runs. It wasn't exactly jumping the shark, but still ...

Donald said...

It ain't Sorkin without the walk-and-talk

Anonymous said...

It's not that hard to write the Sorkin way. Just take a dose of mushrooms, 3 lines of quality cocaine (to begin with), pick a theme, and start typing.
Start at 6 am, you'll have 3 scripts ready to shoot by midnight.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

This is fabulous! I can't believe how often I laughed, while trying to muffle it because I'm at work. Where the ratio of unemployment benefits -- aw, never mind.

Pat Reeder said...

Nice job of aping Sorkin's style except for two things:

1. They have to do the dialogue while striding quickly and purposefully down circular hallways for no reason.

2. The parts that you intended to be humorous actually were. You should have just had the characters tell us how hilarious they were and let us take it on faith.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Ken! Ken! Do Downton Abbey as written by Chuck Lorre!

David Curtis said...

And without a break in the witty repartee.

Daws said...

Just going to leave this here:


Lairbo said...

There was no Danny. There's always a Danny...

Anonymous said...

Sorkin is horrible. Same old liberal BS about how much America sucks. Jeff Daniels' bloviating speech wasn't even accurate. Jake Tapper did a brilliant takedown of this awful show.


kent said...

Shine-up another EMMY that was one of your best scenes yet!

Sue said...

...and why is it almost every time someone makes a negative remark in the comment section it is done anonymously?? Other then that fun post Ken.

Cathy S. said...

Why does he need that extra "a" in "Aaron" anyway?

Jason said...

That had me laughing out loud. Thanks for reminding me what comedic talent can accomplish, even when it's just words on a screen.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Entertainment Weekly also lists some Sorkinisms.


Of course, lists would be an Entertainment Weekly-ism.

Anonymous said...

DAWS...just sent Sorkin your link to every TV writer I know.

Tom Quigley said...

Great job, Ken. I started wondering, since the beginning of the scene reminded me of the opening of the "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode, if Sorkin had written that episode, where would an obligatory speech about cruelty to circus animals fit in?

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

Have you seen this? :) http://youtu.be/S78RzZr3IwI

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Goes to show, Ken, that you could be staff on The Newsroom and no one would be able to tell you apart from the original.

HOWEVER, The Newsroom looks to me like it's going to suck despite its great cast. I think Sorkin has already done TV on SPORTS NIGHT, and already done politics and the American Way on THE WEST WING (which copied SPORTS NIGHT quite a lot).


Pete Grossman said...

Great stuff! You need to include a "Fuck" though. You've got to have a "Fuck" in there somewhere!

Anonymous said...


This is the dialogue you should be using.

Anonymous said...

Adam Carolla Owns His Critics:


Tim Simmons said...

Sad News about Nora Ephron


shellac Perth said...

The conversation is pretty hilarious if I say so myself. It's quite disturbing at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Might be time for Aaron to cash in his chips:


Anonymous said...

Let's try this:


Craig said...

Mostly lovely, though the fact that Cesar Romero does not actually have the "extra a" blunted the impact for me a bit.

Tamar said...

Hysterical and well done. And...true on all accounts?

live sports said...

nice pics

Anonymous said...

Terrific! May I add one bit?


TED: Mare. (much lower) Louuuu.

Cynic said...

Actually, given how pompus, sexist and self-congratulatory The Newsroom is, it's seems more like Sorkin has re-written MTM from Ted Baxter's own deluded point of view.

Jake Mabe said...

I have laughed out loud for the last 20 minutes...I think my co-workers are calling the cops...

Brilliant, Mr. L. Brilliant.

Craft said...


Linda said...

Now that the season has ended, I'm curious as to how you feel about The Newsroom now. I loved it, as did my friends and family. But the press has largely been pretty negative about it. Did you find yourself continuing to enjoy it? Or starting to agree with the critics?

pastpunditry said...

Okay, so I read that. And in my mind I heard every one of their voices clear as a bell. Thank you for a wonderful way to wake up this Monday morning. Made me laugh more than I have in a long time. Most appreciated.