Broadcast News

We’re approaching 30 years since James L. Brooks released Broadcast News, a funny and insightful indictment of style-over-substance television news. Holly Hunter played a brilliant and obsessive producer who is pulled into the orbit of a handsome, and unschooled, rising star played by William Hurt. She is repelled by his folksy charm and that he admits to not getting the news he’s reading. But her iciness slowly starts down that slippery slope as the “woman” in her begins to overrule the “journalist.” (Yes, it’s a bit sexist but Hunter’s character remains conflicted throughout.) Watching with wounded bemusement is an ace reporter, the multi-linguist Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), whose stark cynicism might be read as James Brooks’s own view of the current (and future) state of affairs for an industry that he clearly loved. (James Brooks was also executive producer of The Lou Grant and Mary Tyler Moore shows, each of which was set in the world of television.) Talk of tape and scenes of linear editing and camera crews and the like do date the film technologically, but its events and sentiments — the decimation of a newsroom, the promotion of feelings over facts, the pandering and pettiness — are most assuredly as a relevant as today’s headlines.


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