The Newsroom: HBO's Newest Period Piece Jason Shapiro

Step aside, Boardwalk Empire. HBO has a new period piece in its lineup and it goes by the name The Newsroom.  Set against the backdrop of 2010s New York City, The Newsroom tells the story of Will McAvoy, a cable news anchor that has a change of heart about how he wants to tell the news.  Will longs for the golden age of broadcasting and hopes to better emulate the greats, like Murrow, Cronkite and Rather.

One of the most fascinating things about The Newsroom is its setting.  2010…what a time to be alive.  Remember Lady GaGa? Remember Conan v. Leno? It was a simpler time and we have the opportunity to spend an hour in it every Sunday night.  We explore life in 2010 through the eyes of our main characters: Will, the boss and star of the show; Mackenzie, the real boss and Will’s ex; Maggie, Will’s assistant; Don, Maggie’s boyfriend and guy who works on 10 pm show; Jim, Mackenzie’s producer and Maggie crusher; Neal, show assistant and friend to all and Charlie, guy with bow tie.

Setting the show in this arcane time provides the opportunity to explore many of the mysterious happenings of 2010 with the perspective of today.  This idea excited me so much that I just couldn’t leave all the fun to Mr. Sorkin.  I’ve already written dozens of spec scripts and I don’t even care if the show’s next episode goes past 2010 (flashbacks!). Here are some of the story lines that I explored:

Chelsea Clinton’s Wedding

Chelsea Clinton gets married and Mackenzie inaccurately dubs the event “The Wedding of the Century.” After week long coverage that includes who’s wearing what, who’s eating what, venue analysis, the Bill Cam, the Hil-Mic and color commentary, sponsors start to pull out and Will is forced to make a statement about integrity.

Black Swan

The young staff goes to see Black Swan and everyone is creeped out.  Maggie sits in between Jim and Don and accidentally grabs Jim’s hand!!! Neal doesn’t know how to feel about any of this but what he does know is that Mila Kunis is stunning.  He appreciates the film but is not sure if Kunis’s character even existed.  At the bar, no one speaks.  They are all feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable and slightly confused.

Bieber Fever

Bieber Fever hits The Newsroom in a BIG way.  After hearing Maggie hum the tune to the song “Baby” over and over, Jim, Don and Neal all come into work with wavy Bieber cuts.  This is only overshadowed by Will coming in with the same hairdo.  Mackenzie tells them that they’re all ridiculous and Will issues a statement about integrity.

LeBron’s Decision

The News Night staff is divided after LeBron James decides to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. What’s even worse is that The Decision creams News Night in the ratings.  Will is disgusted and issues a statement about integrity.

The End of LOST

Will makes some controversial remarks about baby Aaron after the LOST  finale and internet backlash ensues.  Will and Mackenzie must make the difficult choice between Will sticking to his guns or issuing a new statement. Charlie wears a bow tie.

New York Bed Bugs

New York Bed Bugs hit New York!  Will issues a statement about integrity.

Chilean Miners

Oh, the Chilean Miner crisis.  News Night is the first to break the story after Neal gets a text from his college roommate, whose cousin’s boyfriend’s ex-Pastor is related to one of the trapped miners.

KFC’s Double Down

Mackenzie challenges Will to Double Down eating contest but after they each have two and a half, they go into shock and are rushed to the hospital.  It’s up to either Jim or Don to deliver the news. And the kicker? Maggie has to decide.

Vuvuzela

Don gets way too into the World Cup, buys a vuvuzela and annoys everyone.

Facebook’s Doppelganger Week

Everyone changes their profile picture to a picture of their celebrity “doppelganger.” No one agrees with anyone else’s selection.  Charlie wears a bow tie and doesn’t have Facebook.

Psychic Octopus

Mackenzie books the psychic octopus (that predicted the World Cup) as a guest without telling Will.  Will is furious and subtly asks if she’s dating the octopus.  Mackenzie is like, “wtf?”

“Release The Kraken”

Everyone around the newsroom starts saying “release the kraken” and it gets out of hand.  Jim and Don have a contest to see who can do the best impression but everyone knows that they are just fighting over Maggie.  Will finds out that Mackenzie went to see Clash of the Titans with a date and he freaks out.  No statements are issued.

Facebook introduces “The Check In”

After Maggie and Jim accidentally check into the same place on Facebook, Don throws a fit and threatens to defriend everyone.  Neal explains what the new “check in” feature is and Will and Mackenzie misconstrue the whole thing.  They begin to write up a statement about integrity but before Will delivers it, Neal updates his status, re-explaining the whole thing.  Everyone checks into the karaoke bar down the street and they all have a great night.

So….does anyone know any agency people? Please pass this along if you do.

The possibilities are endless!  With 2011 and 2012 right around the corner, we have so many great stories to look forward to. What does everyone think of Pippa?  What’s a Pippa?  What about Occupy Walmart?  Also, MITT ROMNEY! Can’t wait.

Which story lines would you like to see The Newsroom tackle?

Images via Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly

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