The Newsroom: Episode 6 – Bullies – Recap

The Newsroom Episode 6 called Bullies was saddled with an ungainly structure which utilized a forward and back style. We started with Will flubbing a couple of routine items. He misspoke during the news by calling the debt ceiling the deficit, then by thanking the viewers for ‘washing‘ instead of ‘watching‘, and he even said, Stay tuned to watch Will McAvoy with The Capitol Report from Washington coming up next, I’m Terry Smith. We hear Mackenzie McHale speaking into Will’s ear – End the broadcast…!

Okay, networks don’t have their broadcast licenses revoked by the FCC because a TV news anchor made a couple of gaffes in reading the news as well as small matters like staffing and schedules. In short ‘no big deal’, however it was still a matter for concern, at least to Will’s Exec Producer, Mackenzie McHale, and was noticed by the whole staff – not to mention the viewers.

The date is April 12, 2011, and we will come to learn that Will isn’t himself. He’s tired. Extremely tired as in simply not sleeping at all. He’s got serious insomnia. Of course there are reasons. Will makes himself a scrambled egg, bacon, and melted cheese sandwich on toast before going to sleep every night. He has no idea that bacon contains a mild stimulant. But the bacon is the least of his concerns. He’s been bullying people that he interviews on his show, he is a bully to the staff, AND he’s received a death threat.

So he heads off to see his shrink to acquire a prescription for sleeping pills. Will has a standing visit scheduled for every Wednesday at 10:00 AM with this shrink, one Abe Habeeb. Only he hasn’t been going, but he continues to pay for the Dr’s services that he’s not using. In fact, Will isn’t even aware that this psychiatrist died two years ago, and the practice has been taken over by the doctor’s son – one Jacob Habeeb. And therein lies the framing device for the show – Will is talking to Jack – and we get the actual events in flashback.

I’m Jacob Habeeb. My father died two years ago. You have been paying me for the last two years. Won’t you come into my office?

So what went so horribly wrong that the sleep thief visits Will every night? That process, of full disclosure will follow, in brief spurts and only grudgingly. Will brow-beats his bodyguard (provided by his employers insurance company) into reading a magazine in the Dr’s waiting room, and then is resistant to Jack Habeeb, even after he hears that Abe died two years ago. Will wants to collect a prescription, and not have a ‘session’. Jack thinks otherwise and softly probes Will for the answers to why he’s having insomnia.

The sources of Will’s problems don’t exactly tumble forth – but they do come out. In a short list, they are:

Issues about viewers comments which ultimately included a death threat.
Browbeating a woman who publicly spoke out against the Islamization of America.
Bullying an aide to ex-Senator Rick Santorum.
Guilt about pushing Sloan Sabbith into going after a story about the Fukushima nuclear energy disaster.
The still unsettled issues about his relationship with Mackenzie.
Issues stemming from the fact that Will comes from a family with an abusive, alcoholic father which caused him to assume the role of ‘protector’.

Before we have a closer look, I will say that I thought this episode was riveting. The series itself has some overall problems – especially with its portrayal of the female characters, the recurring issues of the Maggie/Jim and Will/Mackenzie relationships, and Sorkin’s politics. In this particular episode the character of Sloan Sabbith takes on the role of an important character, yet this occurs only after she has to jump through some of Sorkin’s hoops by acting silly.

Sabbith has just barely been introduced to Will’s bodyguard, and she says – Wow! Nice to meet you. Can I tap your chest? She’s astounded by the bodyguards’ pecs. Okay. moving on, Sabbith will later have a major shootout with Charlie Skinner which is actually (for me) the highlight of not only the episode, but all we’ve seen of the entire series to this point.

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Water (2005)

A young married girl is about to lose her husband to a disease as the film begins. Once the husband has died, and despite her young age, she is now a widow and her options are limited.

  • She could marry the younger brother of her dead husband.
  • She could throw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
  • She could join an ashram and give the rest of her life to spiritual devotion.

According to the sacred texts:

  • A window should be long-suffering until death, self-restrained and chaste.
  • A virtuous wife who remains chaste when her husband has died, goes to heaven.
  • A woman who is unfaithful to her husband is reborn in the womb of a jackal.

So say the Holy scriptures as written in the Dharamshastras.

Soon after the cremation, the young child-widow has her head shaved, she’s made to wear a basic and unadorned white garment, and is brought to a temple to live out her remaining life, in the company of other women in the same circumstances – that of being a widow.

They are isolated, men are not permitted in the ashram, and other than as beggars, or shopping for essentials, they infrequently mix with society

The date is 1938. The place is Benares now called Varanasi, India. The former young married female’s name is Chuyia. She is 8 years old.

The film is called Water (2005) and is the last film in a trilogy of elemental films, directed and written by Deepa Mehta. The other two titles are Earth (1998), and Fire (1996).

Now I will grant you that a film about the circumstances about widows in India, circa 1938, doesn’t exactly jump out as a ‘must see‘ movie. But this is more than a simple movie about ‘societal injustice‘.

Besides the young child-widow, there are three more characters that require your attention and concern.

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The Newsroom: Episode 5 – Amen – Recap

With four episodes already aired, and Episode 5 called Amen looming, the HBO Series, The Newsroom made some news of its own this week. On July 19th , it was announced that Aaron Sorkin had made a number of changes to the writing staff. Though the exact number of staff writers being replaced wasn’t divulged, it was a sign of well, something … perhaps, a reaction to critical reviews which so far have been mixed. [EDIT: Jul 25th – The new hires are for The Newsroom’s 2nd season, not this season]

Anyway, given the date of the announcement, it is unlikely that those changes would have an impact on Amen, aired on Sunday night, the 22nd. The preview promos for the episode showed that The Newsroom would be leading with the Egyptian citizens taking to the streets in Cairo to protest the non-resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. That would be the feature along with the breaking story of the reaction to the proposed budget cuts in Wisconsin. But before we get to it, is anyone with me that this Episode might have been called Rudy? Stay with us – more on that later.

It is February 10th, 2011 as the episode begins. Will McAvoy is talking with the ACN correspondent Elliot Hirsch (actually he’s the 10:00 PM News Anchor) who is set up in a Cairo hotel room. Civil unrest has taken to the streets of Cairo following Mubarak’s announcement that he would not be stepping down. Elliot hears shooting and ducks out to his balcony to see what was going on.

Elliot Hirsch has just gone off-screen to check the street noises. Will: Elliot?

Racing out to get to the video editing room, Jim Harper arrives at the door just as Maggie Jordan was racing in. Long story short – Jim’s forehead is cut in the collision between his head and the glass door.

Maggie Jordan had gotten word of a huge breaking story. There’s a growing protest in the streets of Appleton Wisconsin, the home of the Fox Cities Center for Performing Arts where I once watched a performance of Rent and just down the street is Bazil’s Pub – where I’ve guzzled beers and shot pool, Governor Scott Walker is trapped in a newspaper office as the teachers rally. Why? Because of his drastic plans (the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill) to balance the state budget by slashing spending, ratcheting up the number of layoffs, busting state employee unions, especially the teachers union, thereby stripping away their collective bargaining rights. Anyway, the protest in Appleton began with 75 angry teachers, but in a few days that number would increase to 30,000 folks protesting in the streets in the Wisconsin state capital, Madison.

On this night, for these stories, Maggie (the teachers protesting – Hey hey, ho, ho – Governor Scott’s got to go!) and Jim Harper (Egyptians about to overthrow their government) had to work with one single video editor to cut the raws of these stories on the fly and then rush them up to the control room on thumb drives.

Wouldn’t you know it, after Maggie had just dropped off her thumb drive and was leaving the control room, once again, a glass door with Maggie operating it and Jim Harper’s head collided. Ouch! Just then Will closed by announcing that Governor Scott has called out the National Guard.

Mackenzie calls an impromptu staff meeting (okay, maybe it was an emergency staff meeting) for anyone with Producer in their job title. Sloan Sabbith is not a producer – she’s just a talking head so she is excused – but Mackenzie makes her promise to meet later. Before the meeting actually starts, Wade wanders in

Mackenzie: Honey, I’m sorry, I still need 20 minutes…
Wade: I see, is Egypt still a country?

Will and Herb the director enter at this point, (as Mack and Wade are kissing) and there’s some more bantering between Will and Mackenzie.

Will: Wait, wait, everyone watch this, Mackenzie needs to use her fingers to subtract…
Mackenzie: Will took tap dancing lessons when he was eleven...

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In 1891, Thomas Hardy‘s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles was published. It didn’t hit the book seller stalls immediately as it was serialized in a newspaper. While the original publication received mixed reviews, the book would later be called a classic novel and is likely still being read in English Lit classes even today.

The novel was produced as a silent film in 1913 and 1924. In the modern era, in 1979, Roman Polanski adapted the novel and released his film called Tess which starred Nastassja Kinski and Peter Firth. In 2008, the novel was made into a multi-part mini-series which aired on television (on BBC and in the USA on the PBS Masterpiece Classics series).

Which brings us to 2011. British Film Director Michael Winterbottom adapted the novel, or used it as the basis of his film; updating the setting from 19th Century England to the 21st century in modern-day India. Winterbottom has said that during the 19th Century, Britain had evolved from a rural and agrarian economy to a place that was the most dynamic urban and industrialized economy in the world. Yet is was a place where cultural differences not only still existed between the upper and lower class strata of society, but the whole fabric of society was based upon keeping the classes separate. Winterbottom went on to point out that it would be difficult to recreate that period of history, in a period film, in today’s England.

India, on the other hand, still offered, in its small towns and rural areas, places where class differences, economic differences, and cultural and educational differences where right there in front of people; there at the same time as societal changes were occurring. Yet there were still family traditions, outlooks on sexual conduct, and economic and religious customs that were still resistant to changes brought about by modern thinking. So that was thinking and background about why the film was set in India.

Trishna is both a love story and a tragedy. One could say it is the story of a woman who was destroyed by falling in love and her own circumstances.

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The Newsroom – Episode 4 – I’ll Try to Fix You: Recap

I’m not sure what to say. Actually, I meant to say that I wasn’t sure what I was watching. I tuned in to The Newsroom Episode 4 entitled I’ll Try to Fix You, but as we got into this episode, somehow I thought I was watching a show gleefully called The Will McAvoy Follies. Sorkin may have forgotten that he was doing The Newsroom because he grabbed a stunt from Smash.

I believe I did mention it in my Smash recaps. Yeah – the drink-tossed-in-your-face stunt. We got this not once, not twice, but three times in the first 45 minutes with Will the recipient all three times. McAvoy became Page 6 fodder after the 1st one. Then after the third time, the stakes were raised as Will was splashed all over the cover of one of those supermarket tabloids. But more on that later.

So Episode 4 begins with Will in a tux, sitting in his office. He’s taking a smoke break. It is New Year’s Eve and there’s a party going on in the newsroom. Mackenzie comes in and asks Will to give Wade (Mack’s boyfriend) a few minutes as he has some facts that he wants to share with Will. Wade is an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District. His job is to prosecute financial crimes. Will expresses the hope that Wade (and his associates) would do a better job.

That’s what Wade wants to discuss.

But before we get that we cut away back to the party. Neal is pitching his Big Foot slash Species premise. Neal’s new girl friend Kaila arrives. As he puts it ‘girl friend‘ is a bit strong of a term. That leaves us with Maggie and Jim Harper. Until Don arrives with an idea – Don wants to fix up Maggie’s roommate Lisa with Jim Harper. Obviously Don’s wheels are turning. Lisa shows up at 10 minutes to midnight. Despite Maggie’s protestations, the introductions are made. As ‘Fun Don’ drags Maggie away, Maggie grabs Tess and says, Kill me, kill me now, do it now … (someone is distressed I’d say).

Wade tells Will that the Congressional funding for the Department of Justice’s financial crimes investigations] has been slashed from 165 million to 30 million. Wade describes it as ‘rolling over’ for the G.O.P., so Wade, and his associates are in a lose/lose scenario. Not enough funds to hire more lawyers, prosecutors, and researchers. The banks can out man the DOJ, and outlast the DOJ as the litigation is dragged through the courts forever. Will says, Are you telling me that the Department of Justice is getting out-lawyered? Wade agrees, and Will sees it for what it is – a good news story. But before Will can head out to the party, there’s a brief tussle/spat with Mackenzie. She says, Congress de-funded the DOJ. I thought you’d want to hear that. Will – I did.

Will emerges from his office, and while he is gazing at the party, Sloan Sabbith appears next to him. There’s some small talk and Sloan suggest that Will talk to someone at the party, especially that blond woman who just crossed into their view.

Two things have just been put into play – Will and Sloan (for the future) and Will and the blond woman who is Nina Howard. Mackenzie comes in and asks Sloan, Why is Will talking to Nina Howard. Nina is a gossip columnist for TMI? Mackenzie and Sloan both say, Oh, Will shouldn’t be talking with her.

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To Rome with Love – the latest from Woody Allen

I’ve seen Rome, and I’ve seen Paris, and brother, let me tell you, To Rome With Love is no Midnight in Paris. Well, in all honesty, that’s not a new thought, it is merely an opinion already written by many who discuss films. I grafted that thought on to an even older statement that originated in the dark world of politics. That comment has been run through various word processors  by lots of people, usually emerging with the same intent, but usually about a multitude of different subjects.

In my view, TRWL was simply a case of Woody Allen raiding his own cinematic cabinet, and recycling his own old recipes. After a rather silly opening in which a Roman vigili (that’s Italian for traffic policeman) interrupts his direction of the flow of traffic to tell us that he sees all of Rome’s people in his work and they all have stories. It’s not a whole lot of words with deep meaning but it was the truth. The film is a bunch of collected stories of people in Rome. Notice I said collected and not connected.

We meet Woody Allen, he’s a retired director of operas,  and Judy Davis who play a married couple (Jerry & Phyllis) flying to Italy to meet their daughter Hayley (Alison Pill) who is taking the summer off and living it up in Roma. We join them on the plane where Woody/Jerry is a nervous wreck after some momentary turbulence. As usual, Allen is manic – the gestures, the incredibly worried look on his face – we’ve all seen this before, as has his wife. As sane and as calm and level-headed as she is, Allen’s Jerry is her opposite.

Phyllis (Judy Davis) and Jerry (Woody Allen)

Hayley, their daughter stops a young man on the street. He’s named Michelangelo, and Hayley is hoping for directions to The Trevi Fountain. The directions are a bit complex. Woody likes to use this as a way having people either meet or get lost, so it is repeated multiple times throughout the film. Turns out the Hayley and this guy hit it off and become a couple.

Michelangelo ( Flavio Parenti) and Hayley (Alison Pill)

Meanwhile in another part of town – I’m not sure, but I think the except for the usual tourist high spots – most of the film was shot in the Trastavere neighborhood, a man who routinely wakes at 7:00 AM everyday (we see this event, followed by breakfasts, at least 3-4 times) is a clerk in an office. This may be Rome, but Allen makes sure we get that men in offices, that hangout at the water cooler, are the same everywhere. They banter around, trading quips and put downs, while they can’t take their eyes off a leggy and busty secretary who raises their temperatures. Continue reading

The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan

You’ve got time on your hands. Your wife and daughter have gone upcountry and now seems to be the perfect time to paint the apartment. Though painting is not your favorite activity, a trip to the paint store gets you out for a while, meaning some time is spent somewhat pleasurably.

After you’ve made your selections which are Apricot Cream, which Rose liked for the living room, and Urban Decay, a paint color that is best described as having the look of a rotted eggplant, which Miaow picked out for her bedroom, and you’ve paid for the paint – you find yourself outside of the store but still in front of it, you suddenly realize that there’s a bit of a commotion.

People are running by you in one direction, and real fast. You turn to look in the direction that the people are running towards. At once, someone runs into you from behind and the collision takes both of you down to greet the sidewalk – up close and personally.

As you and the guy atop you struggle to right yourselves, there some loud noises. The guy has just been shot, and then again, and again. You get the guy up to a place where he’s half-sitting, half lying across your lap. He’s going fast – that is, he’s dying in your arms. The man raises his head and whispers with his dying breaths: HelenEckersleyCheyenne … before slumping over.

So begins Timothy Hallinan’s new novel The Fear Artist. About to be published by Soho Press, this novel will be on your book seller’s shelves in just a few days. This is the latest in Tim’s great series of Poke Rafferty thrillers. They’re all set in exotic Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand is called ‘the land of smiles’, and even though the people do smile as often as possible, and want to live their lives filled with sanuk (fun), that doesn’t mean that aren’t some mean streets in town. Danger can be found around any corner. Or as we’ve just discovered – sometime the danger finds you.

After getting out from under the man who has just expired in his arms – Poke Rafferty, an American writer of travel books, who now calls Bangkok his home, discovers that there’s a camera crew already on the scene. Just seconds have passed. How are they here already?

Police are also present – and when Poke says this man has been shot – the police say no one was shot. Poke knows better. Despite the street being covered in Apricot Cream mixed with the Urban Decay, Poke has enough blood stains on him to know he didn’t image the sounds of the gunfire. Nor did imagine this man’s body shuddering from the impact of the bullets.

So after an alarming face off/stare down/confrontation from the cops on the scene, Poke is allowed to head home. But the affair is far from over. Poke is going to be facing an interrogation by some Thai intelligence officers otherwise known spooks. Only he doesn’t know it yet. Continue reading

Moonrise Kingdom

So I stepped into one of those little mini-mazes the movie theaters set up to guide, control, and gently feed the ticket buyers, in orderly fashion, to the ticket windows. A few people were already at the windows buying tickets, but no one else was next in line.

However, two women, likely in their late 50’s or early 60’s were standing in mid-maze.

Excuse me, are you ladies going to buy tickets?‘ ‘Not yet, we are still deciding what to see. You may pass us – any recommendations?

I said that I was going to see Moonrise Kingdom. And they asked what is it about?

I said that I couldn’t say more than it would take you back to the time when you were both 12!

They said that sounds interesting and they followed me towards the ticket window. I never saw them after that as I lost about 7 minutes waiting in line to buy snacks.

But yes, Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson and written by Anderson and Roman Coppola, is about two 12 year-olds. While it is not quite a coming-of-age film, it is truly about an adventure that the two kids take, and what is even more interesting is that this film is not a film that seems to have been designed for today’s kids. Instead it seems that Anderson created this film for people in their late 50’s and early 60’s, because they are the ones who can mostly likely identify with people who would have been 12-13-14 years old in the 1960’s.

Of course, being 12-13-14 might be the same at any point in history (up to a point) with only the influential toys, clothing, and other things like cultural idols, icons, and artifacts changing over the years.

On New Penzance Island, a mythical island – actually the film was shot in Rhode Island – Sam Shakusky, a 12 year old Khaki Scount has gone missing. Scout Master Ward, played by Edward Norton, discovers this only after making his morning inspection and then sitting down at the Mess where the place settings and the headcount of seated scouts differ by a count of one. Who’s missing?, asks the Scout Master.

Where’s Shakusky……?

It takes them a few moments to figure out that it is Shakusky. His tent is zipped from the inside, but this isn’t much of barrier. After Ward unzips the tent entrance, they peer inside the tent and see no one …

… and the mystery immediately intensifies. In a remarkable feat of stating the obvious, Ward says, Shakusky has flown the coop. Peeling back a poster taped on the inside tent wall. they discover a hole big enough to crawl through.

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The Newsroom – Episode 3 – The 112th Congress: Recap

I really liked how The Newsroom’s Episode 3, called The 112th Congress, began and ended. I just wasn’t quite so enamoured of the circuitous route they took to arrive at the end of the show. In a week where Mackenzie McHale and Sloan Sabbith were basically asked to go stand in a corner and not speak until asked to speak, which basically reduced them to afterthoughts, Sorkin tossed the ball to Will, Maggie and Charlie, asking them to carry the show with assists from Reese, Jim Harper and the CEO, played by Jane Fonda. From a perspective that’s best described as looking back after the 59 + minutes , I do think it worked rather well. This is not say that there weren’t some issues. But hey, who’s counting?

Actually, I’m counting as this is a recap where we comment, describe, quote, and spoil for you, all in one place. What we have in this post is Episode 3 from A to Z, or start to finish if you like that better.

As the show opens we have a video clip of former US counter-terrorism czar Richard Clark apologizing to the American people for the 9/11 terrorist attack. He was speaking to a Congressional meeting on March 24th 2004:

I welcome the opportunity for this forum because now, I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them that are here in the room, to those watching on television,

Your government failed you.
Those entrusted to protect you, failed you.
And I failed you.

We then cut to Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) who proceeded over the next 7 minutes to issue his own apologies for his own shortcoming as a newsman. Referencing the clip McAvoy said:

Americans liked that moment. I liked that moment. Adults should hold themselves accountable for failures.

This wasn’t just a talking head. As McAvoy spoke his public mea culpa, the visuals changed from his live speech to a beautifully made montage, where we saw him begin writing the speech on a long yellow legal pad, we saw at conference with Mackenzie McHale and other staff going over the speech, we watched the News Night staff watching the live broadcast over monitors. We saw Will’s typed speech in Charlie Skinner’s hands, and we watched as Neal, Jim, and Don and Maggie, in their homes first saw the topic of the speech in an email they probably got in the middle of the night.

Will’s speech was inspiring in its depth, and its range. He apologized as a newsman for being the head of a program that cared more about ratings than delivering the news in an unvarnished way, or how they added their own slant, spins, and subtext to keep corporate happy. He apologized for as he put it, being in the exact same business as the producers of Jersey Shore.

Will then made a promise to quit the circus that was all about ratings and profits, of soft pedaling the news that required a hard stance, and the circus that routinely delivered a version of the news which did not live up to the standards of democracy by keeping the electorate well-informed. He took great pains to say that he as a journalist was apologizing only for himself, and not for all journalists.

I don’t need to recap the whole speech verbatim. You’ve should have a pretty fair idea of what went down from the thumbnail sketch, I’ve just given you. Will ended his editorial by saying, We’ll be back after this with the news. In real television that would usually be a lead in for a commercial break. Only this time we didn’t get a commercial.

What we got was a darkened board room. There was a Power Point presentation on-screen. News Night Performance Analysis April-November 2010. The guy giving the presentation says, “It would be accurate to say that it started with his on air apology.” Charley Skinner asks, Pardon me, it would be accurate to say what started?

They didn’t tell us in so many words, and if you blinked you might have missed the header on that analysis chart, but this was a meeting that was taking place at least 7 months later. It wasn’t so much of a full board meeting as there were just three main players, Reese, Charlie Skinner, and a woman who just listened for a while.

What was it really? It was Charlie Skinner being called in on the carpet by his bosses and being asked to explain the loss of ratings/revenue. Remember in last week’s show, that both Charlie Skinner and Will McAvoy met with Reese, who I called ‘the ratings guy’. Well, it turns out that Reese is much more than that.

Reese is the fucking president of the company. He reports to just one person, the CEO. And that would be Leona Lansing played by Jane Fonda. Reese and Charley have never gotten along. This is going to be brutal. We don’t know if Charley is fighting for his own survival, or just that of Will and Mackenzie, or all of the above.

Reese: [referencing the apology] Was he aware that he had gone on television and said that everything his network had done up to that point was trash?
Charley: I think he was fully aware of what he said, and that he aware he was on television when he said it, and he also took responsibility for himself, and not the network or the company. What are we talking about?

Okay, while this is just the first of several scenes in that board room, we now have the ground work of how this episode will play out. Over the course of this episode, we will see some of what happened the rest of the spring and summer of 2010, Will and Mackenzie and the News Night staff will tackle many new stories. We, the audience will also have some inside looks at the personal lives of a number of the shows staff. All of this will done via a flash forward and flashback process taking us back to this board room again and again.

You know one minute it is a news broadcast in May 2010, then we jump ahead to that meeting. Then we’re back to June 2010 to meet some of Will’s dates as well as other news stories. Then they cut back to that meeting, and so forth repeated multiple times. It is kind of tricky, and requires you to pay attention.

Well it is now right after Will’s apology broadcast. Don comes into Jim Harper’s office. He’s kind of drunk and he says that he saw Will’s show in a bar, and he admits to being ‘overserved’ but he has a question for Jim, “How much did you have to do with writing that opening tonight?” Jim deflects the question – it was something that Will wanted to do…

Don says that he’d love to have been a part of that. Jim replies that he can still do it (on Don’s 10:00 o’clock show). Jim says he has a mandate to bring viewers to 10:00 o’clock. If I don’t, they’ll bring someone else in until it someone does. Jim says, You can do it… Don interrupts… You guys just set me up to look like an asshole before I even started… Jim – that wasn’t the intent. Don leaves and bumps into Maggie. “That’s what you were reading on your Blackberry, right? Maggie is slightly flustered or embarrassed. She says, ” Yes…It said it was eyes only, Baby… Don – I’ve got eyes and he walks off.

Back up on the 44th floor, Charley is still being grilled. The guy with the Power Point presentation says, The Apology was a Monday. The following Saturday was the Times Square bombing [JMM: prevented of course]. We had all the facts by Tuesday. This is the kind of story that makes people want to turn on the news. So you want to take advantage of it…

Reese: [playing his card]That’s News 101 right?
Charlie: What is this meeting?
Reese: [pressing for an answer] Is it News 101?
Charlie: [highly indignant] To artificially hype the threat of a bomb? You’re confusing it with Douche-Baggery 101.

Charlie doesn’t quite get it. His neck is being readied to receive an ax. He fights on, without really understanding that the cards are stacked against him. Reese instructs his man to continue.

By comparison, CBS News opened their show with Katie reporting from Times Square, while News Night gave it three minutes and 20 seconds, saying that there nothing to be concerned about…only referencing that one of the people involved with reporting it to the police was a Muslim

Reese: That’s called squandering an opportunity [The implication is that Will and crew dropped the ball on that story].

This is the lead in for the flashback to how News Night handled the story. The Muslim is being discussed. Mackenzie asks, How come we’ve not heard about him? Maggie replies, Two reasons – One – He didn’t make the call. Turns out that the his involvement was that he was the one who alerted Lance Orton who then called the police. This Muslim was a Senegalese street vendor whose English wasn’t that good, and that he had no credits left on his phone, so he alerted Lance.

Mackenzie says, What was the second reason? Maggie – He’s a Muslim. The room goes silent. Mackenzie asks Maggie where she got that story. From a Pakistani blog. “Not the most trustworthy source.” says Will. Maggie says, “I know, so I confirmed it with the NYPD, and it’s true. The Times of London has it online, so I think that if the religion of the bomber is important, so is the religion of the guy who saved everyone’s lives.”

After a lengthy pause, Will says, “So do I‘. Mackenzie says, “Okay three twenty [instead of just three minutes] at the top.

Back to the 44th Floor Charlie is still being grilled about the lost viewers and lowered ratings. Reese has another angle to insert. “Wasn’t it about this time that Will had an epiphany about the Tea Party?”

Next we have a flashback. Will is in Charlie’s office talking about that. Will says that he’s been up since 2:00 AM going over some polling data from the Republican Primary race in Utah. Somebody faxed me the data, I don’t know who, but it doesn’t matter.

Will feels that this one candidate (Mike Lee) for the Republican Senatorial seat has taken a position even more to the right than the incumbent Bob Bennett. Charlie says how is that even possible. Will then gives us a lengthy history lesson going back to 1968, the SDS, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, the yippie’s protest, yadda yadda. In short – the beginnings of the Progressive movement which would last 40 years.

It is pure Sorkin, grandstanding again, tossing us opinion, facts, mythology, and suppositions all in one speech. Charlie listens, occasionally tossing a question back to Will.

Anyway, Will leads us to the promised land – he claims that The Tea Party is the grandchild of the Yippies – only it has been co-opted by The Republican Radical Right – which as it turns out, in Will’s opinion, is BIG BUSINESS. Will states “The Tea Party is being hijacked right in front of our eyes in real-time. We should be scared shitless. How is this not our lead story every night?”

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