Is ‘The Newsroom’ Aaron Sorkin’s Last TV Show?
The Newsroom only just kicked off its third season, but it’s already shaping up to be memorable in more ways than one. In addition to marking the closeout of the HBO series, the six-episode run may also signal the end of show creator Aaron Sorkin’s television career.
It was almost a year ago that the network first announced that the hard-hitting political drama would be coming to an end after a short third season. At the time, the news left some of the show’s loyal viewers surprised and many disappointed. Now, Sorkin himself is inspiring a similar reaction by revealing that The Newsroom will likely mark his last small-screen effort. “I’m pretty certain I’m about to write my last three episodes of television,” he said to the Los Angeles Times of the series’ final run in an interview published earlier this month.
As we all know too well, Hollywood retirements don’t tend to last very long, regardless of whether they take place in TV, movies, or music. While Sorkin acknowledges this “never say never” aspect of his potentially permanent departure from television, he seems pretty firm in his belief that his future will remain exclusively in film.
“I want to be really clear about this. Really clear about this,” the renowned writer and producer told the L.A. Times. “I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent in television. And I’ve had much more failure, as traditionally measured, than success in television. I’ve done four shows, and only one of them was The West Wing.”
There’s no denying that Sorkin’s time working on both The West Wing (which he left in 2003) and even its predecessor, Sports Night (which ended in 2000), was probably one of the most significant periods of his career. Still, his assessment of his small-screen efforts since then isn’t entirely wrong. The Newsroom’s 2012 debut marked Sorkin’s first return to television since 2007, when his Saturday Night Live-inspired NBC drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was canceled after only one season. The HBO series, which takes place behind the scenes of a fictional cable news channel, received a lot of attention — largely because it came fully equipped with all of Sorkin’s signature elements, from the backstage examination of a high-profile workplace to the fast-paced, mannered dialogue.
But the same factors that made The Newsroom so buzzy before its initial release also made it extremely divisive once on air. Though the show steadily gained a following and earned several noteworthy award nominations (with star Jeff Daniels winning an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in 2013), it also earned plenty of criticism, with critics calling the show sexist and its stylized language pretentious. Following decent enough ratings (an average of 2 million per episode, according to the L.A. Times), the question of whether Season 3 was happening or not was met with a lot of confusion. It was eventually green-lit, but as a final season consisting of only six episodes.
With the show not panning out as planned, it’s logical that Sorkin would want to place more focus on film, despite some protest from his fans. He found plenty of award-nominated success with movies like The Social Network, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Moneyball prior to The Newsroom, and he already has a big project coming after the show’s end: the much-buzzed about Jobs biopic (which he began writing before Season 3 of The Newsroom was even finalized). As Sorkin himself made clear, the door on his television career isn’t completely shut, and a comeback is always possible. Still, should he stick to his words and really leave television behind, it’s obvious Sorkin will continue to have just as significant an impact on the big screen.