Tag Archives: Aaron Sorkin

TV Show: Sports Night


Sports Night was created and written by Aaron Sorkin. It only lasted on ABC for two seasons; the show could have moved to another network, but Sorkin chose to concentrate on another little project he had in the works - The West Wing. Uploaded by jetblack.thebebop.net.

I suppose I have to explain this selection more than most. After all, Sports Night isn’t one of those beloved TV classics, like The Andy Griffith Show (Great American Things, Feb. 12, 2011). Nor is it a cult favorite, such as Lost (Great American Things, Jan. 27, 2011). In fact, Sports Night only stayed on the air for two seasons (1998-2000), and never made the higher echelons of the Nielsen ratings.

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But I really love this show. As is usually the case, one of the reasons it’s so good is its cast. While Robert Guillaume was well-known thanks to such shows as Benson, Sports Night was my first exposure to some outstanding actors who are now more familiar in other roles. Peter Krause, for example, who had great success on Six Feet Under. Felicity Huffman, enjoying a long run on Desperate Housewives. And Josh Malina, who had a great part on The West Wing.

But the real reason to watch Sports Night was the writing, done by one of my favorites, Aaron Sorkin. He based the series in a fictional sports network, which was very smart. Unfortunately, by naming the series Sports Night, he inadvertently signaled to women that this was a show for guys. In reality, it was a funny and poignant series about friendships, and romance, and work, and appealed to both sexes equally. But as I used to mention it to female friends, most had never watched it – because the name put them off.

As of this writing, many of the episodes are available (in two or three parts) on YouTube. I’m going to link to one of my favorites, “Eli’s Coming.” If you enjoy it, another you’re sure to like is “Dear Louise” (Season 1, Episode 7).

TV Show: The West Wing

Through its run, The West Wing produced Emmys for Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Stockard Channing, and John Spencer. Martin Sheen won a Golden Globe and a SAG award, but never the Emmy. Uploaded by newswire.ca.

I’ll start by saying that I love the work of Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing’s creator and principal writer. He wrote one of my favorite movies, A Few Good Men (Great American Things, October 11, 2009), and his first short-lived TV series was Sports Night, a great show that never captured the public’s attention, probably because it’s title made it seem unappealing to women.

The West Wing ran on NBC from 1999 to 2006, and documented the fictional presidency of Democrat Josiah Bartlet. Though it no doubt appealed more to those on the left side of the political spectrum, its characters were so well drawn and it did such a good job of creating a sense of realism, it was a delight to watch no matter what your political persuasion.

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The show featured an exceptional cast. Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Stockard Channing, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, and Richard Schiff all handled Sorkin’s rapid-fire scripts with veteran aplomb. Perhaps best of all was John Spencer as chief of staff Leo McGarry. If I were president, I’d have wanted Spencer as my chief of staff, actor or not. Sadly, he died of a heart attack near the end of the show’s run.

The West Wing earned nine Emmy Awards – in its first season. It was named Outstanding Drama Series in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. Virtually the entire cast received nominations for acting during the show’s run, and Channing, Janney, Schiff, Spencer, and Whitford won. Emmys were also won for directing, writing, and theme music…

Film: A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. (You’ll eventually see a couple of his TV series in this list.) And A Few Good Men is, above all else, a wonderfully written film.

It starred Tom Cruise back when we liked him. And a wonderfully pompous Jack Nicholson. Even the minor parts were wonderfully cast, with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle, Christopher Guest, and J.T. Walsh demonstrating why they would go on to be bigger stars.

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Uploaded by japattie.info.

A Few Good Men is essentially a courtroom drama that climaxes in the famous “I want the truth!” “You can’t handle the truth!” confrontation between Cruise and Nicholson. “You can’t handle the truth” was selected as the 29th greatest movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute. The AFI also ranked the movie as the fifth greatest courtroom drama ever.

Oh, one story that’s the kind of lore we love about movies. A defendent that Tom Cruise’s character Lt. Kaffee defends was Lance Corporal Harold Dawson, played by Wolfgang Bodison. But Bodison never tried out for the part – he was working as a location scout for the film. Director Rob Reiner thought he looked like a Marine, and suddenly Bodison had an acting career.