EUGENE, Ore. – HBO’s “The Newsroom” premieres Sunday with many of Hollywood’s top stars portraying real life TV newscasters facing the same plight as the Today show's Ann Curry who may be booted from this top TV co-host job after 15 years.
Her Alma mater is the University of Oregon; while NBC's “Today” show co-host Ann Curry has plenty of fellow “Duck” fans here in Eugene who are routing she keeps her job even as HBO’s new TV drama “The Newsroom” reveals that “cosmetic journalism” means TV news personalities such as Curry – at age 55 – no longer have that spunky and youthful look to read news on morning TV. In turn, this cosmetic journalism requires good looking journalists to use a teleprompter and seem youthful; such as Curry did for 15 years next to Matt Lauer. Thus, it's no surprise - given what's revealed in the new show "The Newsroom" - that Lauer is linked to the ascendance of the more youthful “Today” TV news readers; such as Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales. “I just think Ann Curry has really earned her co-shot job on Today. She should not be getting the boot because she’s 55,” explained University of Oregon students Jill and Brian during a June 22 Huliq interview in Eugene. At the same time, Curry's fellow "Ducks" here in Eugene, and other fans across the U.S. are signing an online petition for NBC to keep the popular co-host on Today. Also, HBO’s new drama “The Newsroom” seems to capture this same angst about female newscasters being replaced by younger women; while the male news anchors just carry on smiling for the camera.
The Newsroom touts itself as quality TV
Previews for HBO’s “The Newsroom” – that premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT– reveal it to be an actual TV newsroom; such as the one on NBC’s “Today” with co-hosts Ann Curry and Matt Lauer. In turn, “The Newsroom” is the brainchild of famed Hollywood TV and movie writer Aaron Sorkin; with an all-star cast including Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Jane Fonda.
In fact, the role Jane Fonda plays in “The Newsroom” also mirrors real life Fonda was married to “Turner Broadcasting System” and CNN founder Ted Turner for 10 years.
In “The Newsroom,” for example, Fonda plays the CEO of the fictional TV news network’s parent company, and goes by the name Leona Lansing. Thus it’s no surprise that TV critics are already touting Fonda as Lansing as a female version of Fonda’s ex-husband Ted Turner. And, Fonda herself recently told “The View” on ABC that playing the role of Leona Lansing in “The Newsroom” was “not difficult,” after explaining her work with Ted Turner in running CNN.
In general, the previews of the forthcoming “The Newsroom” premiering on HBO June 24 is more or less another TV show that chronicles the behind-the-scenes events at a “fictional” cable news channel and features an ensemble cast that includes Jeff Daniels as a TV news anchor.
Other cast members include: Alison Pill, Dev Patel, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski and the TV veteran Sam Waterston.
At the same time, TV critics have high hopes for The Newsroom since its creator and top writer is Aaron Sorkin who created the Emmy Award-winning political drama “The West Wing.”
The Newsroom “politics” happening on “Today,” today
A University of Oregon journalism textbook describes “cosmetic journalism” as what most Americas see on TV news broadcasts today; with the likes of Matt Lauer – who’s been featured on NBC’s “Today” morning TV news show with Ann Curry for the past 15 years.
Also, the youthful looking Lauer is getting a reported “$30 million” to basically act friendly and read news from a teleprompter that the Today’s staff writes for him.
In turn, this journalism textbook overview of “cosmetic journalism,” warns that “it’s based more on how a journalist looks on TV," rather than “they’re actual journalism skills.”
Thus, you almost never saw unattractive people reading the news on TV today.
In turn, the June 23 headlines read:
-- “Anny Curry Being Replaced,” reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune
-- “NBC discussing plan to remove Ann Curry as host” reports Boston.com
-- “Rumors of Ann Curry’s departure from Today pick-up steam” reports the Detroit Free Press
Overall, these three leading U.S. newspapers and online news sites explain how, at age 55, the writing’s on the wall, that Today show producers would prefer younger looking Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales sitting next to their “30 million dollar a year” Matt Lauer reading the news and reporting about next month’s Summer Olympics in London, than the older Curry who’s still a favorite here in Eugene, but perhaps on the ropes at Today?
At the same time, it was not so long ago that Curry replaced the aging Meredith Vieira as co-host of Today on June 9, 2011; while Natalie Morales replacing Curry as the teleprompter news reader.
The Newsroom on HBO mirrors real life drama
In marketing promotions for “The Newsroom,” HBO points to how this latest drama is about “the intersection of media and politics;” while featuring “hard-working journalist who speak truth to power.” And, about how “all politics are local” when it comes to who gets to be on TV news broadcasts – reading news from teleprompters – because of their looks trumping their actual journalism skills.
Thus, the premier of “The Newsroom” coming at the same time there’s real-life reports that Ann Curry “is soon to be ousted” from her 15-year TV news gig on NBC’s Today show prompted Ladies Home Journal to market a newly published interview with the morning show host that the Journal hypes as “Curry opens up in our August issue (out July 10) about her job, her critics and staying true to herself.”
Funny, but forthcoming episodes of HBO’s “The Newsroom” tackle this same sort of situation when a TV news anchor has reached his or her “sell by date.”
"It's hard not to take it personally. You worry, Am I not good enough? Am I not what people need? Am I asking the right questions? When people say negative things or speculate, you can't help but feel hurt. I know NBC pays my salary but I have never doubted who I work for. I think about the people who watch. They're the ones who matter to me. I want to feel I haven't dropped the ball when it comes to them,” explained Curry in a recently released preview of her interview in Ladies Home Journal about being booted from Today at age 55.
The Newsroom mirrors The West Wing
Aaron Sorkin explained his mojo for creating the new HBO TV drama “The Newsroom” during an interview with USA Today this week. “When I did The West Wing” - NBC's Emmy-winning look at a noble presidency - "I thought, looking back at our popular culture, our leaders have been portrayed as Machiavellian or dolts. So I thought, 'Well, what if I create a highly competent group of very dedicated people?' “With The Newsroom, "I wanted to try to do the same thing. Rather than go for the reality, I went for the wish-fulfillment and made this as a valentine for those people who are out there fighting the good fight."
Unfortunately, he adds, most of them aren't. Sorkin says the show "isn't a ventriloquist act" for his own views on journalism. But ask him about the state of broadcast news, and he parrots much of the dialogue he wrote for this season's 10 episodes.
"A lot of entertainment is passing as news," Sorkin also told USA Today in a June 20 report; while explaining how a function of the chase for Nielsen ratings and ad revenue that has "trivialized" the business. On cable, "news now has become this thing where you have a home team. You want to hear smart people articulating what you (already) believe."
The big broadcast networks are flawed in a different way, he adds: "I don't see the liberal bias — and I'm trying to — that I hear about. What I do see is a bias toward fairness, a bias toward neutrality, a bias toward false equivalency. That if a Republican has lied, it's important that we find a Democrat who's lied and make them equal, whether they are or not. Most of us have been raised to believe that there are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And that's simply not always the case. Sometimes there are five sides to a story, but sometimes there's just one. Sometimes the truth doesn't lie in the middle; it lies squarely on one side or the other. But you'll never hear the word 'lie' on network news when something is plainly a lie."
Image source of the Today show’s co-host Ann Curry who is in a real-life fight for her job at age 55; while the new HBO TV drama, “The Newsroom,” explores the same types of issues in the world of cosmetic journalism. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Curry