The Newsroom


The Newsroom

infobox television
show_name = The Newsroom


caption = Third season cast of The Newsroom
format = dramedy
camera = Single-camera
runtime = approx. 22 minutes
creator = Ken Finkleman
executive_producer = Ken Finkleman, Jan Peter Meyboom
starring = Ken Finkleman
Peter Keleghan
Karen Hines
country = Canada
network = CBC Television
first_aired = 1996
last_aired = 2005
num_episodes = 32
website = http://www.thenewsroom.ca
imdb_id = 0115291
tv_com_id = 4082|

"The Newsroom" is an award winning Canadian television comedy series which ran on CBC Television in the 1996-1997, 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons. A two-hour television movie, "Escape from the Newsroom", aired in 2002.

In the United States, "The Newsroom" airs on PBS stations across the country.

Set in the newsroom of a television station (never officially named, but clearly based on the CBC itself), the show — which was similar to such earlier series as the British "Drop the Dead Donkey" and the Australian "Frontline" — mined a dark vein of comedy from the political machinations and the sheer incompetence of the people involved in producing the nightly news.

The original 13 episodes were meant as a short run - no multiseason series was planned, and became one of the most critically acclaimed programs in recent Canadian history. Following the end of "The Newsroom", Finkleman produced three different short-run series for the CBC, "More Tears", "Foolish Heart" and "Foreign Objects", all of which included Findlay as a linking character. (A Findlay-like character with a different surname had also appeared in Finkleman's pre-"Newsroom" series "Married Life".)

However, none of these subsequent series were as well-received by the public or by critics, and the CBC began to seek a new set of "Newsroom" episodes. "Escape from the Newsroom", which included a fourth wall-breaking plot digression in which the characters directly addressed the idea of reviving the series, was meant partly as a sarcastic response to that request. However, Finkleman ultimately agreed to produce 13 new episodes, which aired in the winter of 2004. The last four episodes of the second season were shot as a mockumentary.

A third season of "The Newsroom" aired on CBC beginning February 14, 2005. All three seasons and "Escape from the Newsroom" are available on DVD.

Characters

George Findlay

Series creator Ken Finkleman starred as executive producer George Findlay, a venal, petty man who cared only about his sex life, his lunch orders and his personal image within the network's bureaucracy. Findlay was exceptionally intelligent, but self-absorbed and utterly unconcerned about anything besides himself.

In the third season episode "One Dumb Idea", Karen offers her idea on a character based on Findlay for a sitcom idea he was trying to come up with, saying, "I think if you're gonna go for reality, or, sorry, for "verisimilitude", I think your character should be deceitful and self-serving. Basically, pathologically ambitious and actually lacking in any real humanity." In other words, a sociopath.

Findlay apparently suffers from constipation, hinted at by his obsession with bran muffins, fibre products and doctor appointments for procedures including a colonoscopy.

He constantly avoids talking to his mother who is always calling him at work. Telling people to tell her he is in a meeting or on vacation, he even went so far as to have an intern get the telephone number to the show changed. When asked why he refused to talk to her he replies, "Talk to her? You're missing the point. The point is, this place is too cheap to get me an assistant. If I had an assistant, "she" could talk to my mother. But because this place is so god damn cheap, my mother has no one to talk to." Findlay does, however, have a close relationship with his BMW dealer, often calling him about small problems with his "$40,000 German car."

Jim Walcott

Peter Keleghan starred as Jim Walcott, the similarly shallow but far less intelligent anchorman. Walcott is often told by the others that he is smart, but Findlay always refers to him as an idiot when he is not around. He lives alone with his cat and has been charged with sexual harassment several times, including an incident when he offered sexual favours to an underage girl in return for a ride in a helicopter.

In the final episode of the first season, "The Campaign", Walcott, along with other staff of the newsroom, go into politics. Walcott is running as a Liberal for the provincial government of Ontario. He is asked by a reporter from "The Star" if he is in favour of eliminating child poverty in Canada, to which he responds confusedly, "this is a provincial election."

During a fundraising party he mishears a woman he his talking to about abortion, thinking she said, "the decision should be between the woman, her doctor and her "dog"." After "listening to [their] polls", the campaign team decides it best for Walcott to be pro-life, and at a pro-life rally he falls victim to a slip of the tongue by saying, "I believe life begins at "masturbation"." Walcott's attempts to garner additional support include making appearances with his ex-wife and a disabled person, both of whom are represented by agents demanding more money per appearance.

During a campaign speech, Walcott is shot and ends up in a coma with a bullet lodged in his brain. While watching the results of the election on the news, the campaign team celebrates its win just as Walcott dies in the hospital bed beside them.

In "Escape from the Newsroom", Walcott returns to his job as news anchor. His "death" was clarified as a two-year coma. Walcott offers Atom Egoyan a story idea about "a news anchor, who's shot in the head, is in a coma for two years, but survives with a bullet lodged in his brain, and then struggles to return to his news desk." After Egoyan says to Walcott that he read about the same thing happening to Walcott, Walcott seems surprised and says, "yeah, there is a parallel there somewhere."

Karen Mitchell

Karen Hines appeared as segment producer Karen Mitchell, who was the news department's rare example of intelligence and professionalism. Karen seems to be the only one who takes journalistic integrity seriously, while the others try to find ways to boost ratings by glamourizing news stories with sensationalism.

Karen is apt to point out the ignorant prejudices of most of the staff, as they in turn tease her for not being able to find a date. Findlay suspects her of being a lesbian after she is featured in a feminist magazine as one of ten women in the news who make a difference. He "connects the dots" of her different personality traits to arrive at this conclusion, including observations of her not being able to sustain a male-female relationship, the fact that she knows the editor of a women's magazine, and that she is aggressive, argumentative, sure of herself and moralistic. Karen, however, is not a lesbian, as this only illustrates Findlay's way of thinking.

When offering her suggestion on characters profiles for Findlay's sitcom idea, after ridiculing Findlay (see above) she went on to describe a character based on herself that should be "highly intelligent and attractive in an unconventional way, with very strong legs from the years and years of yoga and running that she has had to do to keep her sanity in a toxic psychic environment that is 'the newsroom', and basically far too busy doing her job to get involved in your stupidity or, I'm sorry, your character's stupidity."

Other characters

Each season had a different supporting cast of newswriters, reporters, producers and network bureaucrats. The 1996 season one cast included Jeremy Hotz and Mark Farrell as Findlay's two "yes men" segment producers, Tanya Allen as Audrey the intern, David Huband as Bruce the weatherguy, Julie Khaner as Findlay's boss Sidney, Nancy Beatty as Nancy, Findlay's other boss and David Gale as the entertainment reporter.

The 2004 season two cast included Matt Watts as Matt and Jody Racicot as Alex who replaced Jeremy and Mark as Findlay's "yes men" segment producers. Douglas Bell played Allen, a writer, hypochondriac and Harvard graduate who often stutters. Holly Lewis played Claire and Alberta Watson played Susan. Tom McCamus also appeared in one of the 2004 episodes as a newswriter who informed Findlay of his own terminal illness, to Findlay's lack of concern; his character died at the end of the episode.

In 2005, the season three additions to the cast included Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall as Jason, who replaced Alex as segment producer, Kristin Booth as Nora and Sarah Strange as Susan Murdoch, Findlay's boss. Jeremy Hotz returned to the cast for the first episode when Findlay rehired his character and then fired him later that episode.

Guest stars

The show also included guest appearances by a number of public figures, including David Cronenberg, Bob Rae, Hugh Segal, Naomi Klein, Daniel Richler, Angelo Mosca, Linda McQuaig, Cynthia Dale and Noam Chomsky, playing themselves in interviews on the newscast.

Episode guide

* Season 1 (1996-1997)
# The Walking Shoe Incident
# Dinner at Eight
# Deeper, Deeper
# The Kevorkian Joke
# A Bad Day
# Petty Tyranny
# Dis and Dat
# Parking
# Unity
# The Meltdown Part I
# The Meltdown Part II
# The Meltdown Part III
# The Campaign

* "Escape from the Newsroom" (2002) (movie)

* Season 2 (2004)
# America, America
# Death 1, George 0
# Pushy, Moneygrubbing, Cosmopolitan Racist
# An Enormous Waste of TIme
# Anchors Away
# One of Us
# Never Read Symptoms
# The Fifty
# Slow Leak
# Reality Stikes
# The British Accent
# Say Cheese
# The Second Coming

* Season 3 (2005)
# One Dumb Idea
# Dial 'G' for Gristle
# Lolita
# Latent Homosexual Tendencies
# Baghdad Bound
# Learning to Fly

Awards

DGC Craft Award
* 2005 - Outstanding Achievement in Direction - Television Series - Ken Finkleman - (For episode "Baghdad Bound")
* 2005 - Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Television Series - Tom Bjelic, Allan Fung (For episode "Learning To Fly")

DGC Team Award
* 2005 - Outstanding Team Achievement in a Television Series - Comedy (For episode "Baghdad Bound")

Gemini Awards
* 1997-98 - Best Director - Variety, Comedy or Performing Arts Program or Series - Ken Finkleman (For episode "Meltdown, Part 3")
* 1997-98 - Best Performance - Comedy Program or Series - Jeremy Hotz, Ken Finkleman, Mark Farrell, Peter Keleghan, Tanya Allen (For episode "The Campaign")
* 1997-98 - Best Photography - Comedy, Variety, Performing Arts Program or Series - Joan Hutton
* 1997-98 - Best Picture Editing - Comedy, Variety, Performing Arts Program or Series - Allan Novak
* 1997-98 - Best Writing - Comedy or Variety Program or Series - Ken Finkleman (For episode "The Campaign")
* 2005 - Best Writing - Comedy or Variety Program or Series - Ken Finkleman - (For episode "Baghdad Bound")

International Emmy Awards
* 2005 - Best Comedy (Canada)

Rose d'Or
* 1997 - Bronze Rose, Sitcom.

San Francisco International Film Festival
* 1997 - Silver Spire, Television - Comedy - Ken Finkleman (For episode "Walking Shoe Incident")

WGC Awards
* 1997 - Ken Finkleman
* 1998 - Ken Finkleman (For episode "Meltdown Part III")

External links

*imdb title|id=0377233|title=The Newsroom
* [http://www.thenewsroom.ca/ Season III Website]


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