Considering “The Newsroom’s” shocking lack of nudity, graphic sex and violence, severed heads of former presidents on sticks, dragons or vampires, this is quite an accomplishment for the new Sorkin drama.
I mean, “The Newsroom” is just a behind-the-scenes look at the anchor (Jeff Daniels) of a nightly cable news show, his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his staff and their boss (Sam Waterston) as they engage in a quixotic effort to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and personal entanglements!
HBO’s biggest premiere since 2008 is Martin Scorsese’s Steve Buscemi-starring gangster drama, “Boardwalk Empire” (4.8 million viewers) in September of ’10.
Starting Monday, HBO made the first episode of “The Newsroom” available for free to non-subscribers on HBO.com, YouTube, DailyMotion, TV.com, on various on-demand platforms, and on iTunes.
Sorkin’s show got mixed reviews before its unveiling. Longtime CBS evening news anchor Dan Rather, who was assigned to review “The Newsroom” by Gawker.com, noted that such “high-profile publications” as the New Yorker and the New York Times panned the pilot episode, but that he liked it.
Anyway, Rather said he liked it because it had “got it right” qualities that outweighed Sorkin’s tendency to “overtalk it” and to be “preachy.”
Yes, Dan Rather found it too preachy. That’s rich.
“There is a battle for the soul of the craft that goes on daily now in virtually every newsroom in the country,” Rather preached in his review.
“It’s a fight that matters, not just for journalists but for the country. It centers on whether news reporting is to be considered and practiced — to any significant degree, even a little — as a public service, in the public interest, or is to exist solely as just another money-making operation for owners of news outlets.”
Rather continued: “This is the battle being lost in almost every newsroom, in every place around the world. Ratings (or circulation), demographics, and profits rule. Any talk of the public interest or of doing quality journalism of integrity with guts is considered passé.”
In the comments section, however, Gawker regular John Cook dismissed Rather’s review entirely, calling “The Newsroom” “a seminal document in the long, sad history of Sorkinism.”
Daytime Emmys ratings
About 912,000 people watched the Daytime Emmy Awards on HLN on Saturday night.
HLN noted happily that it was the most-watched regularly scheduled, non-news telecast in the network’s history.
But, of course, everything is relative. And for the Daytime Emmy Awards, 912,000 is its smallest audience ever — and a nosebleed-inducing dive relative to the 5.5 million viewers that the trophy show clocked last year on CBS, or the 5.6 million in 2010, also on CBS.
Until Saturday, the smallest audience the Daytime Emmy Awards had ever suffered was its 2009 telecast on CW, when it averaged 2.7 million viewers.
HLN notes that by Monday morning, after it had run the heck out of the trophy show — a total of five telecasts — the franchise had amassed a cumulative audience of about 2 million viewers. But Nielsen does not weed out repeat viewers in those repeats.
For only the third time in Comedy Central’s roast history, it will skewer a woman.
The Viacom-owned cable network said Monday that it would tape a roast of Roseanne Barr on Aug. 4 in Los Angeles, to premiere on the cable network Aug. 12.
Pamela Anderson was roasted on 2005, and Joan Rivers got it in 2009. Anderson’s roast did well, ratings-wise; Rivers’s roast, not so much.
To Barr falls the dubious honor of following the Charlie Sheen roast — the most-watched in Comedy Central roast history.
Last September, 29 million people watched as CBS introduced Ashton Kutcher as Sheen’s replacement on the sitcom that once earned him $2 million per episode — “Two and a Half Men’s” biggest audience ever, and the biggest season-debut crowd for any scripted program on any network since 2005.
Following that, Comedy Central’s Sheen roast rode CBS’s coattails and snared 6.4 million viewers. That edged out the previous record-holder: the Jeff Foxworthy roast of 2005 (6.2 million). Comedy Central was particularly happy that more than half the throng was made up of 18- to 34-year-olds — the network’s target audience.
Sheen’s favorite ‘Men’
Speaking of Sheen, he’s picked his 24 “favorite” episodes of “Two and a Half Men” for FX to run Thursday in a marathon, to warm up the crowd for the premiere of his new sitcom, “Anger Management,” at 9 that night.
FX has cable rerun rights to (and does extremely well with) the show on which Sheen starred, until Warner Bros. TV sacked him for his all-around weirdsmobile behavior. That behavior included some very public verbal attacks on show creator Chuck Lorre — “I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting [Lorre’s] tin cans into pure gold,” and, “This contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain,” and other zippy stuff.
Anyway, it’s one of the reasons that FX was so interested in landing “Anger Management” when its producers started pitching it around town.
It was a very much calmer, reflective, stands-to-make-huge-coin-in-equity-stake on “Anger Management” Sheen who said Monday, about his 24 episode picks: “As I culled through the mass of shows . . . I was met with a theme of innocence.”
“I can still see 9-year-old Angus riding his Razor up and down the camera aisle; his self-appointed surrogate guardian, Chuck Lorre, watching with pride and also concern. I can hear the echoes of [Jon Cryer’s] genius, [Conchata Ferrell’s] laugh, [Holland Taylor’s] leadership and [Marin Hinkle’s] quiet grace. And the crew, the amazing crew. . . . Who cares how it ended; when it was good, it was great. We were in the middle of something big, the return of the sitcom.”
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvcolumn.