- Sports Night
Format Comedy-drama Created by Aaron Sorkin Starring Josh Charles
Composer(s) W.G. Snuffy Walden Country of origin United States Language(s) English No. of seasons 2 No. of episodes 45 (List of episodes) Production Running time 22 Minutes Broadcast Original channel ABC Original run September 22, 1998 – May 16, 2000
Sports Night is an American television series about a fictional sports news show also called Sports Night. It focuses on the friendships, pitfalls, and ethical issues the creative talent of the program face while trying to produce a good show under constant network pressure. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the half-hour prime time comedy-drama aired on ABC for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.
The show stars Robert Guillaume as managing editor Isaac Jaffe, Felicity Huffman as executive producer Dana Whitaker, Peter Krause as anchor Casey McCall, Josh Charles as anchor Dan Rydell, Sabrina Lloyd as senior associate producer Natalie Hurley, and Joshua Malina as associate producer Jeremy Goodwin. Regular guest stars included William H. Macy as ratings expert Sam Donovan and Brenda Strong as Sally Sasser, the producer of West Coast Update (another show on the same network as Sports Night) and rival of Dana. Other notable guest stars included Paula Marshall and more than one who appeared later on Sorkin's The West Wing including Janel Moloney, Teri Polo, Lisa Edelstein, Alanna Ubach, and Clark Gregg.
The fictional Sports Night is a sports news program in the style of ESPN's SportsCenter. It broadcasts from the fictional Continental Sports Channel (CSC), a subsidiary of Continental Corp, owned and run by Luther Sachs. In an early season 2 episode, Dan mentions that their offices and studio are in Rockefeller Center (however, exterior shots show 345 Park Avenue). The show is said to be a semi-fictional account of the SportsCenter team of Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, with Rydell representing Olbermann and McCall representing Patrick. Patrick has confirmed this on his syndicated radio program The Dan Patrick Show. It's also been said that many of the story lines for Casey McCall were inspired by Craig Kilborn, who was an anchor on SportsCenter during the late 90s.
Sports Night struggled to find an audience and ABC cancelled it after two seasons. Although it had the opportunity to move to several different networks, including HBO, Showtime and USA, Sorkin decided to let the show pass so that he could focus on his popular drama The West Wing
Although the first season of Sports Night is a sitcom, it often is portrayed as more of a comedy-drama representative of some of Sorkin's later work on The West Wing. Sorkin intended for the series' humor to be drier and more realistic than typical sitcoms. He initially wanted the show to be recorded without a laugh track, but ABC network executives insisted on including one. The volume of the laugh track faded as Season One continued and was abandoned at the beginning of Season Two.
The dialogue is often delivered at a rapid-fire pace and intentionally exposes many aspects of communication that go beyond the words that are spoken. The show also frequently employed a technique known as "Walk and Talk", where the characters are walking from one location to the next while in conversation. This is another characteristic of Aaron Sorkin shows as "walk and talks" are used quite frequently in The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. A number of similar themes, elements and actors carried over from Sports Night to The West Wing (and later Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).
The show's main focus is the relationships between the characters. These include an off-again on-again flirtation and romance between Dana and Casey, the partnership of Natalie and nerdy Jeremy, and Dan's ongoing problems with relationships in general. The character of Isaac Jaffe hovers over his staff as a benevolent but uncompromising father figure.
The show is mostly set in the studio and station offices. However, in the second season Anthony's, a local sports bar and restaurant, was introduced as another location for scenes in order to get the characters out of the work environment a little bit.
- Josh Charles – Daniel "Dan" Rydell, Co-Anchor
- Peter Krause – Casey McCall, Co-Anchor
- Felicity Huffman – Dana Whitaker, Executive Producer
- Joshua Malina – Jeremy Goodwin, Associate Producer & Research Analyst
- Sabrina Lloyd – Natalie Hurley, Senior Associate Producer
- Robert Guillaume – Isaac Jaffe, Managing Editor
- Kayla Blake – Kim, Associate Producer
- Greg Baker – Elliot, Associate Producer
- Jeff Mooring – Dave, Director
- Ron Ostrow – Will, Technician
- Timothy Davis-Reed – Chris, Technician
- William H. Macy – Sam Donovan, CSC Ratings Advisor (season 2)
- Teri Polo – Rebecca Wells, Market Analyst for Continental Corp.
- Brenda Strong – Sally Sasser, Executive Producer of West Coast Update
- Robert Mailhouse – J.J., Network Advisor
- Ted McGinley – Gordon Gage (season 1)
- Jayne Brook – Abby Jacobs (season 2)
- Paula Marshall – Jenny (season 2)
- Megan Ward - Pixley (season 2)
In addition to numerous awards and nominations from various guilds, the show was nominated for eight Emmys and one Golden Globe. It won three Emmys:
- Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series - "Cut Man" (2000), Janet Ashikaga
- Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series - "Pilot" (1999), Thomas Schlamme
- Outstanding Multi-Camera Editing for a Series - "Small Town", Janet Ashikaga
- After its cancellation, the rerun rights to the show were briefly picked up by Comedy Central.
- In 2004, ABC1, a British offshoot of ABC, began broadcasting Season 1 of Sports Night in the United Kingdom for the first time. The second season aired in January 2006.
- It was also aired briefly in Latin America on Sony Entertainment Television. The Spanish version of this channel ran the show in Spain.
- Australia's Channel 7 aired the show on late night television from 1999-2001 and was later repeated in the mornings in 2002.
- Australia's Foxtel cable network aired Sports Night on The Comedy Channel in 2005.
- The show was aired in Turkey on DiziMax in 2006.
- The show aired in Italy on Raidue (from 2006 to 2008) and Rai4 (July 2009).
- The show is now available through Netflix streaming service, as of early May, 2011.
Season Episodes Premiere Finale Timeslot U.S. ratings Rank Network 1 1998–1999 23 September 22, 1998 May 4, 1999 Tuesday 9:30 PM ET 10.5 million #65 ABC 2 1999–2000 22 October 5, 1999 May 16, 2000 Tuesday 9:30 PM ET 11.5 million #49 ABC
A special 10th Anniversary Edition Sports Night DVD set was released on September 30, 2008 from Shout! Factory with new bonus features including all-new interviews with creator Aaron Sorkin and cast & crew, featurettes and commentaries. Also included is a commemorative 36-page booklet.
In March 2010, Shout! Factory released Sports Night: Season One on DVD.
DVD name Ep # Release date Sports Night: The Complete Series – 10th Anniversary Edition 45 September 30, 2008 Sports Night: Season One 16 March 30, 2010
- The West Wing
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
- ^ a b Sherri Sylvester (2000-03-16). "Sorkin still writing on 'Sports Night,' 'West Wing'". CNN. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/SHOWBIZ/TV/03/16/aaron.sorkin/. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Jeff Merron (2002-11-12). "Keeping it real on 'Sports Night'". ESPN Page2. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/merron/021112.html. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Joe Flint (1998-09-25). "A Laugh Riot: The TV industry keeps pumping up the canned laughter, even on shows that genuinely earn their guffaws. But the cranked-up chuckles are making some sitcom creators gag". Entertainment Weekly (451). http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,284963,00.html
- ^ Rob Owen (1998-09-22). "'Sports Night' one of best players in season's starting lineup". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.postgazette.com/magazine/19980922sports5.asp. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ a b Sylvia Rubin (1999-10-05). "Malina Gets Into the Swing of `Sports Night': But critically acclaimed show may need a ratings boost to survive second season". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/10/05/DD1481.DTL. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Mike Pinsky (2002-12-09). "Sports Night: The Complete Series". DVD Verdict. http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/sportsnight.php. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Peter Vetsch. "Actors Overlap between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. http://westwing.bewarne.com/overlaps/sports_actors.html. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Peter Vetsch. "Miscellaneous Overlaps between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. http://westwing.bewarne.com/overlaps/sports_misc.html. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Peter Vetsch. "Episode Overlaps between Sports Night & West Wing". The West Wing Continuity Guide. http://westwing.bewarne.com/overlaps/sports_episodes.html. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- ^ Home Media Magazine | 'Sports Night' Redux
- Sports Night at TV.com
- Sports Night at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with Robert Guillaume from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. This interview may not be available in some countries outside the U.S.
- Episode Guide - TKTV
- First season interview with Aaron Sorkin
Works by Aaron Sorkin Television series Feature films Stage plays Works produced by Brian Grazer Film
Producer1980s1990sKindergarten Cop · My Girl · Far and Away · HouseSitter · Boomerang · For Love or Money · My Girl 2 · Greedy · The Paper · The Cowboy Way · Apollo 13 · Sgt. Bilko · Fear · The Nutty Professor · The Chamber · Ransom · Liar Liar · Inventing the Abbotts · Mercury Rising · Psycho · Edtv · Life · Bowfinger · Beyond the Mat2000sNutty Professor II: The Klumps · How the Grinch Stole Christmas · A Beautiful Mind · Undercover Brother · Blue Crush · 8 Mile · Intolerable Cruelty · The Cat in the Hat · The Missing · Friday Night Lights · Inside Deep Throat · Cinderella Man · Flightplan · Fun with Dick and Jane · Inside Man · The Da Vinci Code · American Gangster · Changeling · Frost/Nixon · Angels & Demons · Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey! · The Princess and the Frog2010s
Television1990sSports Night · Felicity · From the Earth to the Moon2000s2010sParenthood · Friends with Benefits · The Playboy Club
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