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August 28, 2012 10AM EST

Q&A with Aaron Sorkin

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  • Q

    Thanks to Aaron Sorkin for joining us for today’s Q&A. Welcome Aaron!

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Thanks to everyone who submitted questions.

  • Q

    Do you prefer making tv shows or movies? And why?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Cameron, I love doing both--as well as plays--and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do all three. What I like about series television is the immediacy of it--we're making a 55 minute movie every 9 days. I like coming to work with the same group of people every day--especially this group of people--and I like the kinds of stories you can tell. An episode is like a chapter in a book and the book becomes a volume in a series. The downside is time. Everything has to be done 10-times as fast as you would do it if you were writing (and then making) a movie or a play. There's no time to re-write. It's a MASH unit. Thanks for watching and come back for Season II.

  • Q

    What was your inspiration for the plot line regarding Will McAvoy's death threats? Is this very common in the news industry, and is it more common for liberals to receive such threats?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    I'm not aware of any news anchor who's received a credible death threat. The character of Lonnie (Terry Crews), Will's bodyguard, was originally in the pilot after Will's Northwestern blow-up. I liked the character and love the actor so in "Bullies" I was able to find a way to bring him in. It humanizes Will a little to have someone there he has to take orders from. Thanks for the question--Come back for Season II.

  • Q

    I love your use of music. When you write, do you usually have a song first that inspires the scene or does the scene inspire the song?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Christina, I like using source music as score. Sometimes I'll hear a song on the radio--usually something from when I was in high school--and I'll want to write a scene to it. Then I'll need a reason for that scene to exist and before you know it there's a story. Sometimes I'll indicate a song cue in the score but when I see it in editing I'll want to change it. Last night we used The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" but I'm pretty sure in the script I called for Tom Petty's "American Girl". Thanks a lot for the question and I'll see you next season.

  • Q

    Casting Adam Arkin in an episode with with Newsroom shrink David Krumholtz was genius. When writing do you think relationally over linearly?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Adam and David are both great (and they'll both be back in Season II)--spotting the coincidence of the casting makes you, I'm guessing, a West Wing fan and if I'm right, thank you very much. As for your question: The writing staff and I begin three months before everyone else. We'll come up with an overall idea for the second season (which itself will take some research) and then start figuring out how we get from the beginning to the end. When it comes to the actual writing, what I need is a strong conflict. Intention and obstacle. Thanks a lot for your question and thanks for watching.

  • Q

    You'vre always written fantastic characters, but I feel like The Newsroom's are your most realistic to date - they're flawed, complex. and surprise you (for example, I really hated Don in the beginning, but he grew on me as I got to know him). Did you intentionally focus more on characterization for this show?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Astrid (which, if I'm not mistaken is the name of a Viking princess), thanks for nice words and for the question. None of the characters on the show are just one thing (as you pointed out with Tom Sadoski's great performance of Don.) It's a romantic and idealistic show and I like showing those moments when people can surprise you. It's also a show where we're more conscious than usual of time moving forward so I think it's important that the characters move forward too. Thanks for watching and I hope you come back for Season II.

  • Q

    As the credits rolled, I felt the way I do at the end of a great book, a bit lost for a moment. What episode most resonates for you and why?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    That's the nicest compliment any of us could get. I don't have much objectivity when it comes to the episodes. All of them have moments I'm very proud of and all of them have moments I wish I could get back and do again. Sometimes you get frustrated feeling, "If I only could have written all the scenes as strong as the strongest scenes…". "Bullies" is one of my favorites, along with "5/1" and "The Greater Fool.”

  • Q

    Season Finales are always a big deal, and they usually go one of two ways. They either end with a dramatic cliff-hanger that leaves the audience in suspense until the next season airs, or they end with a sense of a closing chapter. Things are concluding, but are also setting the stage for what's to come. You have done both in your previous shows, how do you chose which ending to do?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    That's a really great question. The broadcast networks (I've had shows on ABC and NBC) like when you write a cliffhanger into the season finale because it makes it easier to promote the fall premiere of the new season. With The Newsroom, there's so much time between seasons that what I prefer to do (and many others as well) is to treat each season like it's a volume in a series of books. The Season II premiere won't just be Episode 11. Thanks again for the question and thanks a lot for watching.

  • Q

    How do you plan the news stories and the plots that wrap around them? Also how did this idea - the show - come to be?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    For the first season I'd chosen a timeline, beginning with the BP explosion and ending with the credit downgrade. We wallpaper the writers room with every news event--political, financial, human interest, sports, arts, science…you name it. But it usually isn't the news events that are the catalyst for a story idea. I'm thinking about the characters and the events I want to put them through to get from the beginning of the season to the end. Then we all look up at the calendar and see what was happening around then. Thanks for the question and thanks a lot for watching.

  • Q

    I absolutely love the relationships on the show that you've created (including the new one with Don and Sloan). I love that they play a major factor in a show, instead of being pushed to the background. My question was, when Mac finds out (or confirms what she already knows) about the voicemail, will Mac and Will be moving forward with their relationship?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Thanks for the kind words--I'm glad that you like the relationships. The Newsroom may talk tough sometimes but at its heart it's a romantic comedy and it can only succeed if you're invested in the characters. And after saying all that I can't tell you what happens to Will and Mac after the voicemail because I want you to watch the first episode of the second season. Thanks for watching this one.

  • Q

    Aaron love the show except for the whiney women and the love interests. We don't need that as a sidebar to your great writing ability.

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    I'm glad you like the show--thanks for watching. Stick it out with the women. I think you'll find them admirable, interesting and fun. Thanks again for watching--

  • Q

    when are men going to start writing about women who are self confident and know what they want and are not whinny and desperate.

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    First--thanks for watching. We disagree about the women on the show but stick with it, maybe I can win you over.

  • Q

    Dear Mr. Sorkin, as a high school journalist myself, i really appreciate the show and the messages it puts out, they are truly fantastic. my Question is when will the next season aproximatley be coming out, will everybody who had a mjor role be returning

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    That's a great compliment coming from a journalist. The whole cast will be back next season and HBO will announce the date of the season premiere very soon. Thanks for your question and thanks a lot for watching.

  • Q

    First up, Thank you Aaon for writing THE NEWSROOM and bringing it to the public. Tonight's finale should be shown again and again, just to try to show these enlightening truths to the people in need of awakening. The political theme revealed to me how emotional I have become in my senior years with my own views. Thank you again. Semper Fi my brother with a pen.

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Thanks so much for your kind and generous compliment. Semper Fi.

  • Q

    How do you determine what current events you'll use for a fictional piece (debate that didn't happen, gay black republican) and what you'll keep as is (Bin Laden Speech, BP Spill)? How do you balance writing fiction for reality?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    That's a great question. Writing historical fiction can be a tough needle to thread. Basically, the rule of thumb is that I don't make up any news that happens to real people. I can only write fictional news when it only relates to our characters. (Put simply, I can't have the Empire State Building catch on fire but I can do it to the AWM Building.) Thanks a lot for watching.

  • Q

    I love how the season came full circle with "Sorority Girl" applying for an internship! Was that planned from the get go?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Thanks for the question. Having the "Sorority Girl" (the fantastic Riley Voelkel) come back at the end was planned from the ALMOST get-go. We were shooting her scene in the pilot and that's when I got the idea that that's where the season would end. (I wasn't so sure what was going to come in the middle, but I knew how it would begin and end.) Thanks again for the question and thanks a lot for watching.

  • Q

    That's all the time we have for today's Q&A. A huge thank you to Aaron Sorkin for joining us. Anything else you'd like to say, Aaron?

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    Aaron Sorkin says:

    Thanks for watching!

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