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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Broadcast News (1987) ft. Shane Rogers


Guest: Shane Rogers - Stand-up Comedian (shanerogers.net) and Host of Midnight Facts for Insomniacs (https://shanerogerspodcast.podbean.com/)


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: A showdown and love triangle between those who wish to practice good, ethical journalism but are caught up in the system versus those that simply acquiesce to the system entirely.


Plot Summary: A highly strung and emotional news producer, Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) works for a network news office in Washington D.C. When the network hires a great looking, but intellectually novice reporter, Tom Grunick (William Hurt), she finds herself conflicted between her attraction to him and her revulsion in his being the epitome of everything she hates about TV news--the mindless, unintelligent, pretty anchors of today. At the same time, Jane's friend and reporter, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), whose intelligence is only overshadowed by his lack of TV presence, mars the situation with his conflicting feelings for her.


Cast:

  • James L. Brooks, Director and Writer

  • William Hurt as Tom Grunick

  • Albert Brooks as Aaron Altman

  • Holly Hunter as Jane Craig

  • Robert Prosky as Ernie Merriman

  • Lois Chiles as Jennifer Mack

  • Joan Cusack as Blair Litton

  • Peter Hackes as Paul Moore

  • Christian Clemenson as Bobby

  • Jack Nicholson as Bill Rorish

*Recognition:

  • Broadcast News was given a limited release on December 16, 1987, in seven theaters and managed to gross USD $197,542 on its opening weekend. It went into wide release in the United States on December 25, 1987, in 677 theaters, grossing $5.5 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $51.3 million in North America and $16.1 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $67.3 million.

  • Broadcast News was placed on 61 "ten-best" lists, making it the most acclaimed film of 1987.

  • Broadcast News was nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Hurt), Actress (Hunter), Supporting Actor (Brooks), Original Screenplay (James L. Brooks), Cinematography, and Film Editing.

  • The film was recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

    • 1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated

    • 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #64

    • 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

      • Aaron Altman: "I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time." – Nominated

    • 2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated

  • Broadcast News currently holds a 98% rating among critics on RT, an 84 score on Metacritic, and a 4 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

  • In 2018, Broadcast News was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

Did You Know:

  • Albert Brooks revealed that when he first read the script, the scene where Aaron does a weekend broadcast simply noted "Something bad happens to Aaron on the air." Albert was watching CNN when a reporter he'd never seen before (and hasn't seen since) began sweating badly. Albert phoned writer and director James L. Brooks at three in the morning, and stated that Aaron HAD to start sweating profusely.

  • Jack Nicholson was not paid for his role, at his own request.

  • Peter Hackes, who plays News Division President Paul Moore, was an NBC News correspondent in Washington, D.C. until retiring from the network a year before the movie was made.

  • Jane Craig was inspired by CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky. Before filming began, Holly Hunter spent time job shadowing Zirinsky to see how things worked in a real newsroom. Hunter also cut her hair into a "bob" style haircut to resemble Zirinsky.

  • James L. Brooks wrote this movie especially for Debra Winger, but she was forced to turn it down because she was pregnant with her son Noah Hutton. Before casting Holly Hunter as a replacement, Brooks considered Sigourney Weaver, Judy Davis, Elizabeth McGovern, Christine Lahti, and Elizabeth Perkins.

  • Marc Shaiman and Glen Roven, who played News Theme Writers, are real-life composers, who have also done television jingles. Shaiman, after doing this movie, went on to score major motion picture films, and has since been nominated for seven Academy Awards.

  • Jennifer is sent to Anchorage, Alaska, to report on bodies that had been found after being buried by a serial killer. It's a reference to the Robert Hansen case. Hansen would abduct women, sometimes flying them to remote locations in his plane, rape them, and hunt them. In 1983, he was convicted of 17 murders, and sentenced to 461 years in prison with no possibility of parole. He died August 21, 2014.

Best Performance: Holly Hunter (Jane)/Albert Brooks (Aaron)

Best Secondary Performance: Holly Hunter (Jane)/James L. Brooks (Writer/Director)/William Hurt (Tom)

Most Charismatic Award: William Hurt (Tom)

Best Scene:

  • Jane Meets Tom

  • Last Second Editing

  • Nicaragua

  • House Party

  • Libya and Sicily

  • Do You Know the Cabinet?

  • Sit on Your Jacket a Little...

  • Correspondents Dinner

  • Lay-Offs

  • Airport Send-Off

  • Epilogue

Favorite Scene: Lay-Offs/Libya and Sicily

Most Indelible Moment: Airport Send-Off


In Memorium:

  • Roger Welsch, 85, American television correspondent and author. Humorist known as "Captain Nebraska" that produced the Postcards from Nebraska segment of the CBS News Sunday Morning.

  • Al Primo, 87, American television news executive, creator of the term "Eyewitness News" for a local station in Philadelphia in 1965. Was a champion of early diversity hires in his newsroom as beat reporters.

  • Joan Hotchkis, 95, American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and feminist performing artist (The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts, The Odd Couple, My World and Welcome to It). She was a member of the Actors Studio.

  • Vincent Deporter, 63, Belgian comic book artist and animator (Marvel Comics, SpongeBob SquarePants).

  • Loretta Lynn, 90, American Hall of Fame country singer-songwriter ("Coal Miner's Daughter", "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)", "The Pill"), Grammy winner (1972, 2004, 2010).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.

Jane Craig: No. It's awful.


Tom Grunnick: What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?

Aaron Altman: Keep it to yourself.


Aaron Altman: Ok, I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.


Blair Litton: Oh, you think anyone who's proud of the work we do is an ass-kisser.

Aaron Altman: No, I think anyone who puckers up their lips and presses it against their bosses buttocks and then *smooches* is an ass-kisser.

Blair Litton: My gosh... and for a while there I was attracted to you.

Aaron Altman: Well, wait a minute, that changes everything!


Aaron Altman: I know you care about him. I've never seen you like this about anyone, so please don't get me wrong when I tell you that Tom, while being a very nice guy, is the Devil.

Jane Craig: This isn't friendship. You're crazy, you know that?

Aaron Altman: What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around?

Jane Craig: God!

Aaron Altman: Come on! Nobody is going to be taken in by a guy with a long, red, pointy tail! What's he gonna sound like?

[hisses]

Aaron Altman: No. I'm semi-serious here.

Jane Craig: You're seriously...

Aaron Altman: He will be attractive! He'll be nice and helpful. He'll get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation. He'll never do an evil thing! He'll never deliberately hurt a living thing... he will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important. Just a tiny little bit. Just coax along flash over substance. Just a tiny little bit. And he'll talk about all of us really being salesmen. And he'll get all the great women.


Paul Moore: [Paul and Martin emerge from an office in which Paul had just laid off Martin] Now, if there's anything I can do for you...

Martin Klein: Well, I certainly hope you'll die soon.


Aaron Altman: Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If "needy" were a turn-on?


Aaron Altman: And if things had gone differently for me tonight, then I probably wouldn't be saying any of this. I grant you everything. But give me this: He personifies everything that you've been fighting against. And I'm in love with you. How do you like that? I buried the lede.


Blair Litton: Except for socially, you're my role model.


Tom Grunnick: Just remember that you're not just reading the news, you're narrating it. Everybody has to sell a little. You're selling them this idea of you, you know, you're sort of saying, trust me I'm, um, credible. So when you feel yourself just reading, stop! Start selling a little.


Aaron Altman: If anything happens to me, you tell every woman I've ever gone out with I was talking about her at the end. That way they'll have to reevaluate me.


Tom Grunnick: I'm going to miss you... you're a prick in a good way... I'm sorry.

Aaron Altman: No, I liked how that made me *sound*.


Aaron Altman: Let's never forget, we're the real story, not them.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6

Impact/Significance: 7.17

Novelty: 6.83

Classic-ness: 7.67

Rewatchability: 7.17

Audience Score: 7.9 (79% Google, 79% RT)

Total: 42.74


Remaining Questions:

  • How would Jane, Aaron, and Tom deal with the age of 24 hour cable news as well as the dawn of the internet?

  • During the time jump, what happened for Jane that she was willing to work with Tom again?

  • Why is Jane breaking down sobbing through multiple points in the early part of the movie?

  • What is exactly wrong with Tom's approach to journalism?

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