I saw the film "Broadcast News" the other night. As luck would have it I went with a newspaper friend who claimed that since he wasn't in the TV business he could view it objectively.
"I've always been interested in how the other half lives," Myron said, eating a bucket of popcorn.
"Do you think television people are strange?"
"I'm almost certain of it," he said. "Our TV brothers and sisters march to a different drummer."
We watched the film unfold. Myron said, "They all wear better clothes than we do, but it figures. They get paid more in one hour than we do in a week."
"You're not jealous, are you, Myron?"
"Of course not. Everything we've seen so far proves you can't find happiness in Washington by receiving a higher salary."
One of the themes throughout the motion picture is that the network characters aren't able to get their private lives together. They can't even arrange a friendly one-night stand without being preempted by an emotional crisis at the studio.
Myron whispered,"It looks to me like the girl producer lusts for the anchorman -- but he doesn't want her. Then when he lusts for her she doesn't want him."
"Why doesn't she want the anchorman?"
Myron replied, "Because he used two cameras to shoot an interview but told her he only used one. It could never happen on a newspaper."
"Reporters don't cheat on their reverse shots."
"TV makes you do a lot of things you're ashamed of," I said.
"As I see it," said Myron, chomping away on the popcorn, "the difference between television and newspapering is that people in the print business are happily married."
"Why are we so happily married?"
"Because our spouses are not jealous of our careers. They know that no matter what story we're working on, they always come first," Myron said.
"And because they trust us we don't have to sneak around the backs of control rooms and TelePrompTers," I added.
"This popcorn needs more butter," he said. "What we newspeople have going for us is although we love our work, we take time to smell the flowers. TV people would rather look at outtakes of their last show."
"What disturbs me about 'Broadcast News' is that no one in the picture can write," I confided to Myron. "The only thing they respect is the red light on the top of the camera."
"Television is a tough business," Myron said, scratching the bottom of the popcorn pail for kernels. "I'm not surprised that when the girl producer gets a flutter for the anchorman he turns his back on her for a romp in the hay with a more mature, but no less attractive, lady at the same shop. That could only happen to someone at a network."
I said, "I've been told that a scene like that actually happened at a party on the Metroliner between Baltimore and Wilmington."
So what are we to make of "Broadcast News"? It is a fine picture that depicts an industry as it really is. For those who take TV for granted the film makes us realize how vulnerable the people who come into our living rooms really are.
If the public is waiting for a film about the print media similar to "Broadcast News," they have a long wait. Myron told me as we left the theater, "It would be nice if they made a picture about three press people who are ambitious, hard drinkers and philanderers. But who in the hell would believe it?"