Broadcast News

Broadcast News ★★★★½

Criterion Collection Spine #552

It's all about (flash versus substance) in this rom-com involving a love triangle between three newsroom colleagues.

I was first introduced to this cinematic gem during a young broadcasters convention I attended in college. They showed us the scene in the opening when Holly Hunter's character Jane is introduced and we see her pick up several newspapers. So why does she do this? Becasue she is a news producer, whose job it is to know about every news event that's going that should be included in her broadcast. I know this becasue I worked as a New Producer on and off for about 5 years at the start of my career. And I can tell you it is one stress full job that Jane in this movie is brilliant at.

The other scene shown at the convention, was when they were making last minute edits to a reporter's story, which forced Joan Cusack's character to have to dash across the station in order to get the story on the air just in time. Having been apart of hundreds of broadcasts I can recall many times when we made those deadlines, times when we missed them, and then other instances when the producer killed the story but did not tell anyone ... so we were in a hurry for nothing. While it was an exhausting job, it did help me develop my voice as a writer and helped me develop a work ethic that I like to call instant deadlines. That's where I try to work as hard as I can to get my work completed ASAP, and get irritated when other people drag their feet and prevent things from getting done.

Broadcast News has this very energetic score, where you actually hear this following effect within the music. This theme of following is just like what happens in the plot where the less knowledge reporter/ anchor character Tom, played by Bill Hurt is taking Jane's lead on getting savvy in the news business. The score also has similar melodies to what you may hear in the opening music of your favorite news broadcast.

Hunter's performance is amazing throughout, especially in those moments when we see how she must unplug the phone every time she takes a personal moment to break down in tears. She unplugs the phone becasue it is in her nature that she must answer it if it were to ring, despite the fact that she may be crying in that moment.

The other member of the love triangle Aaron played by Albert Brooks, is jealous about how Tom can just look good and be successful. He on the other hand busts his ass to be as smart as possible, but that approach does not seem to be helping him move forward since he lacks Tom's charm.

Here are a few of my favorite scenes from the movie:

When Jane is working as Tom's show producer for the first time during breaking news coverage, and he is perfectly delivering all the information she is providing him in his ear.

When Aaron finally gets the chance to anchor, but suffers from a tragic case of flop sweat. Tom does a lot to prepare Aaron for this moment, but Aaron resents Tom so much that he is reluctant to take his advice.
"Wow, that's a great tip!"

The writing and acting are so seamless throughout, and it was fun to listen to Director James Brooks' commentary where he would often catch himself marveling at great lines like:

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

"A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!"

"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."

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

Thematically the movie address concerns about the news, like people's desire to see human interest stories instead of hard news. Typically in local news, crime stories always go on first which follows with the saying, 'If it bleeds, it ledes'. This is expertly depicted in the movie 'Nightcrawler'.

When I worked as a producer I always tried my best to have a kicker at the end of my show, which is a fun story to give everyone a little chuckle. But so often many of my colleagues would not bother with writing a kicker for some reason. A great example of this is the crazy domino video Jane shows while she is speaking at a broadcasters conference. Personally since I got out of the news business, I hardly take an interest in it anymore. These days when you hear people say they are into the news they likely mean they are obsessing about what Fox News or CNN had to say about the President on that given day.

The ethics side of the news is also a major theme addressed. They focus on the importance of not staging any footage that is used. This is a major plot point at the end when it comes to Tom and Jane's relationship, which I personally think ends up being a little overly melodramatic.

So as much as I love this movie, I wish there was less of a focus put on the love story. I am sure most people latch onto that part more than all the news room parts. But for me Broadcast News really shines with how funny and realistically it is able to show what it is like to work in a TV news room. While the movie 'Network' focuses on the impact of mass media, the only other thing that comes close to Broadcast News in terms of showing what it is like to be in this work setting is Aaron Sorkin's HBO show 'The News Room', mostly in its first season.

Many people who watch this movie say it should have ended when Jane gets in the taxi, instead of seeing the three characters come together years later in the park. I agree the scene where they come together feels a bit awkward, but since the love story is my least favorite part of the movie, I really don't feel strongly either way about how it ended.

"I'm finished!"
- Daniel Plainview

Happy movie watching ...SKOL!

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