Wednesday, December 1, 2010


(December 1987, U.S.)

Ah, Christmas 1987 - I was in my third year of college and partying my ass off! At the movies, Michael Douglas was telling the world that greed was good, Robin Williams was yelling "Good morning!" to Vietnam and BROADCAST NEWS was giving a young guy like me his first glimpse as to just how phoney and fabricated network news television could be. Even today, I find myself unable to watch the news for no more than a half hour without developing a knot in my stomach. It's not just because nearly all of the news is bad news, but the style in which it's presented has become completely over-sensationalized in its delivery, filming and editing style. In short, it has, in my opinion, developed a status level that falls just short of a reality TV show. You want an example? Just watch anchorman Chuck Scarborough on New York's NBC-TV nightly news at 11 pm; the man has a constant happy and chipper demeanor throughout his broadcast, even when the news is horribly tragic, just as if he were prepped, primed and put together like an overbloated TV game show host. So what's the solution? Watch more CNN or MSNBC? Well, it's a slight improvement, but I'm afraid even those two so-called "serious" news networks may be falling victim to the disease of broadcast sensationalism.

But anyway, back to movie in discussion - BROADCAST NEWS is a film that can be called as knowledgeable about the TV news-gathering process as any movie ever made, but it also has insights into the more personal matter of how people use their high-pressure jobs as a way of avoiding time alone with themselves. The best example is news producer Jane Craig (played by Holly Hunter) who is so appalled by every negative element that modern television news epitomizes, she has actually managed to repell other people through her personality and convictions. When alone with herself, she can only cope with the stress and pressures by experiencing a well-needed cry. News anchorman Tom Grunick (played by William Hurt) is admitedly uneducated, uninformed and unseasoned at his profession, and as he puts it, is "making a fortune" (what's not to love about the guy?). Albert Brooks' presence is as funny and as charming as you'd expect from any role he takes on. Frankly, I don't think I've ever heard anyone express sarchasm on film the way he does. But in this film, he's also excellent at taking the viewer inside the world of television news, though perhaps not terribly good at analyzing it all. Can ANYBODY alalyze television these days? It's all such a horrible mess!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Aaron Altman: "I know you care about him. I've never seen you like this about anyone, so please don't take it wrong when I tell you that I believe that Tom, while a very nice guy, is the Devil."
Jane Craig: " This isn't friendship!" You're crazy, you know that?"
Aaron: "What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around?"
Jane: "God!"
Aaron: "Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No, I'm semi-serious here."
Jane: "You're serious..."
Aaron: "He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing. He will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance...just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. And he'll get all the great women."

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