The righteous hypocrite: Aaron Sorkin
By Michael Moriarty
There were rumours, distant ones here in Canada, about why West Wing went off the air. It was John Spencer's heart attack or … well … whatever. It's gone! Thank God!!
Aaron Sorkin, the creator/writer/producer of West Wing, is back at us again with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip . According to Roger Friedman of Fox News, who has seen the entire episode, it is not all that promising. In addition, his review adds the side story of Lorne Michaels' unsolicited, apparently unauthorized and unapproved involvement in Studio 60 as the role model for one of the main characters in Studio 60, the one played by Judd Hirsch, and brilliantly, from what I viewed in a brief, promotion clip.
Plagiarism - the script is tearing more than a page out of Paddy Chayevsky's film Network - is Hollywood's middle name. Clint Eastwood lifted the classic western Shane, in order to make Pale Rider , co-starring yours truly, and left nary a footnote in the credits. It was, I heard later, settled out of court with the Shane estate, or the Studio that produced it, or the eventual owners of Shane or, well, whatever … lawyers, lawyers, lawyers.
"That's for the lawyers to decide," say the Gods of the Silver Screen and its lesser Olympia, the small screen of television.
The highly litigious situation of an angry Lorne Michaels and an increasingly arrogant Aaron Sorkin might prove much more interesting than either Studio 60 or Mr. Michaels' long-lived triumph, Saturday Night Live.
The "party of the first part," possibly in the greatest trouble, is NBC, my former network, where I played in Law & Order .
This is obviously an in-house feud that could blow up into an ugly exit from NBC by both Mr. Michaels and Mr. Sorkin. Either of the other two major networks, ABC or CBS would most certainly welcome Mr. Michaels on board their own roster of producers.
Hmmm … in West Wing this B.O.A.F.O.B., Best Of All Friends Of Bill, painted a Clinton Administration so earnestly committed to a "Progressive" America that any other idea of America's future would seem treasonous, if not utterly unworthy of a Nielsen Rating.
Obviously, I am not a fan of Mr. Sorkin or West Wing or what he is trying to "pull off" with Studio 60.
The part I saw only has Judd Hirsch, as the Lorne Michaels Type, having a "meltdown", bursting out of a control booth to lecture all of America about what is wrong with Network Television, America's Dream of becoming Donald Trump and a Religious Right that has the United States in Progressive Retardation … oh, it's all in exclamation points and performed with utterly convincing rage by Mr. Hirsch. The show's limited success is reflected in Roger Friedman's review, and his confirmation of Sorkin's accusation that Lorne Michaels' Saturday Night Live is "never funny or relevant."
Score one for Aaron Sorkin.
However, score ten for Americans who have never looked for substance on the three major networks. With History Channel, Discovery Station, PBS and A & E, now America can surf substance when she feels like it. What does Sorkin expect? Stephen Hawking on the David Letterman Show? Nobel Prize-winning geneticist James D. Watson on the Jay Leno Show?
Yes, he does. The "Progressive" has always looked down on America. The "pursuit of happiness," or even a laugh, for that matter, has never been a consideration of "Progressives." They are making such "progress," and with such determination that mainstream American television had become the target of the Clinton Administration's Attorney General, Janet Reno. They were made to sit for three hours with that daughter of Lenin in a prestigious back room of the Willard Hotel and endured her playing Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, her treating NBC executives like in-patients, ones in great need of either electro-shock or a lobotomy.
Does NBC know that Aaron Sorkin probably agrees with her?
What was NBC doing with West Wing in the first place?
Well, that's a moderately long story.
NBC is known, at least by a Variety observer, as the network most concilliatory to the United States Government. However, that network's own politics is increasingly obvious: Progressive Liberalism; which, in short, means "anything Bill Clinton wants, Bill Clinton gets".
Roger Ailes, head of CNBC at one time, and therefore under the aegis of NBC, told me an interesting story about "freedom of speech" for NBC employers. He had told a Hillary Clinton joke on the Don Imus Radio Show and received a congratulatory call from Bob Wright, head of NBC. One hour later, he received a call from the same Mr. Wright, telling him that there will be "no more Hillary Clinton jokes!" The White House , the West Wing, had called Roger Ailes' boss and…well, that's how it works, you know? Another network, ABC, these days is now getting more than phone calls from the White House regarding its mini-series, The Path to 9/11. Letters to ABC from the Clinton Foundation may prove more powerful than the Federal Communications Commission itself. Welcome to the West Wing of The Clinton Global Initiative!
Mr. Ailes, of the "Hillary Clinton joke," subsequently didn't buck against the Progressive Liberal demands, even though he has been a conservative all his life, and finally got the great Progressive Liberal seal of approval, a cover article in the New York Times Magazine !
On the cover of another magazine blazed the headline: "The Most Influential Man in the World: Bill Clinton!"
Hmmm … New York City, my former home town, is now a Clintonograd. That state, with Hillary Clinton as Senator, is, at least from a Clinton point of view, Ken and Barbie Play Land. I liken it to North American Versailles.
Aaron Sorkin, with his new Studio 60 series, is determined to follow the advice of Paul Haggis, Academy Award winning author of Million Dollar Baby. Mr. Sorkin is now going East Berlin, Brechtian and, as Mr. Haggis advised all the other artists in the Academy Awards' audience, "We must, as Brecht said, ‘Hammer, hammer, hammer!"
Well, Judd Hirsch sure "hammers!"
Not since Mr. Chayevsky's Network and the Group Theatre's Waiting for Lefty, has a single, now so transparently Communist voice, told Americans how shameful they have been - straight into the camera and the audience's eyes,
With Aaron Sorkin upping the pitch, taking stylistic orders from higher, more "international" regions than NBC, we will see how docile that network remains before the increasingly imperial demands of a Progressive Liberalism, one that seems to be taking off the "nice guy" mask, and donning the highly effective rage of Brechtian "alienation."
"Hammer, hammer, hammer!"
As I said at the outset, the particulars of why West Wing was taken off the air … are still up for debate. However, the format of that television series would hardly support regular meltdowns by White House Staff, and that grand opportunity for Aaron Sorkin to get a lot off his chest just wasn't there. Studio 60 is Sorkin's opportunity to give one of American TV's most successful producers, Lorne Michaels, some cojones !!! No one needs the permission to do that! Not now!! The gloves are off!!!
Yes, the gloves are off in this new battle with what Progressive Liberals consider as American television's pap - nonsense, superficiality, American bourgeois sloth, middle-class complacence, resistance to a centralized power, reactionary stagnation, intellectual inertia, mongoloid stubbornness, pathetic tastes in everything , including comedy, lionization of half-wit stars and couch-potato tastes!!!
I love my America ... ever since I said, for the first time, in 1994 on my talk show, A Life Without Fear, that I would be running for President of the United States. Because of that announcement, I have pored over tomes of American history ... and, with the invaluable help of historians Joseph Ellis, David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin, I am so madly in love with my nation that I sometimes scare people.
I can "hammer" too, when I'm moved to it.
Of course, I am a self-made exile, a politicized James Joyce, not in Paris ... God forbid !! ... but in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada, and absence does, indeed, make the heart grow fonder ... but ... for the likes of Aaron Sorkin to be allowed, over four years of prime time, unadulterated self-indulgence, and the despicable opportunity of first, with West Wing, telling us how it should be done -- As Bill Clinton would do it! -- and, second, for looking down on middle-class America, as France, Edmund Wilson and Senator William J. Fulbright told Mr. Sorkin, Bill Clinton and so many post-modern Americans!
I can endure being patronized. My training in theater was under British masters of that art. However, to hear the righteous hypocrisy of a man who would so patronize Lorne Michaels that he feels his show, Studio 60, is saying what Mr. Michaels would say ... if only Lorne Michaels had the courage!!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Mary Christmas and Force of Impact. Moriarty is also running for President of the United States in 2008 as a candidate for the Realists Party. To find out more about Moriarty's presidential campaign, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.