Broadcast News (1987)

R | 131 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 16 December 1987

Director:

James L. Brooks

Writer:

James L. Brooks

Producer:

James L. Brooks

Cinematographer:

Michael Ballhaus

Editor:

Richard Marks

Production Designer:

Charles Rosen
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HISTORY

Opening credits are preceded by a prologue featuring brief scenes of young “Tom Grunick,” “Aaron Altman,” and “Jane Craig” growing up in the 1960s.
       After winning three Academy Awards for writing, producing, and directing Terms of Endearment (1983, see entry), filmmaker James L. Brooks spent considerable time developing the subject of his next picture. Broadcast News began as an idea to portray a romantic comedy with a “new kind of heroine.” Although his hit television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 19 Sep 1970—19 Mar 1977) and its spinoff, Lou Grant (CBS, 20 Sep 1977—13 Sep 1982) both took place in newsrooms, Brooks did not intend to revisit the setting for a film until he attended the Democratic National Convention in Jul 1984. Noting how much broadcast news had changed since his time working as a copy boy in the 1960s, he decided to use the workplace as a backdrop for a love triangle between three ambitious individuals. During the convention, he met CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky, who acted as a technical advisor throughout the next year and a half of research. Zirinsky was eventually named associate producer. Although several sources claimed that Jane Craig was based on Zirinsky, both she and Brooks asserted that the character was a composite of several different women working in broadcast journalism at the time.
       On 2 Jul 1986, Var announced that William Hurt had agreed to star in the project, then untitled, which was to be fully financed and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that James L. Brooks wrote the role of ... More Less

Opening credits are preceded by a prologue featuring brief scenes of young “Tom Grunick,” “Aaron Altman,” and “Jane Craig” growing up in the 1960s.
       After winning three Academy Awards for writing, producing, and directing Terms of Endearment (1983, see entry), filmmaker James L. Brooks spent considerable time developing the subject of his next picture. Broadcast News began as an idea to portray a romantic comedy with a “new kind of heroine.” Although his hit television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 19 Sep 1970—19 Mar 1977) and its spinoff, Lou Grant (CBS, 20 Sep 1977—13 Sep 1982) both took place in newsrooms, Brooks did not intend to revisit the setting for a film until he attended the Democratic National Convention in Jul 1984. Noting how much broadcast news had changed since his time working as a copy boy in the 1960s, he decided to use the workplace as a backdrop for a love triangle between three ambitious individuals. During the convention, he met CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky, who acted as a technical advisor throughout the next year and a half of research. Zirinsky was eventually named associate producer. Although several sources claimed that Jane Craig was based on Zirinsky, both she and Brooks asserted that the character was a composite of several different women working in broadcast journalism at the time.
       On 2 Jul 1986, Var announced that William Hurt had agreed to star in the project, then untitled, which was to be fully financed and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that James L. Brooks wrote the role of Aaron specifically for his longtime friend, Albert Brooks, but struggled to find the right actress to play Jane. Newsweek indicated that Terms of Endearment star Debra Winger, Sigourney Weaver, Diane Wiest, Jessica Lange, Elizabeth Perkins, and Mary Beth Hurt were among those considered before he agreed to audition Holly Hunter, unknown to the director at the time, just two days before the start of production.
       The 10 Feb 1987 HR stated that principal photography began on 2 Feb 1986. According to the Apr 1988 issue of AmCin, the picture was filmed on more than forty locations in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Stuart Hobson Middle School; the Hay Adams Hotel; the JW Marriott Hotel; the Hotel Bristol; Baltimore—Washington International Airport and Trailways Bus Terminal in Baltimore, MD; and the Marwood Estate in Potomac, MD. The newsroom set was constructed inside a renovated office complex at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, while the control room and studio sets were built backstage at the Wolf Trap Theater, an outdoor performance venue in Fairfax County, VA. All newsreel footage played on the monitors was produced by two senior news officials, who the 23 Dec 1987 LAHExam identified as Zirinsky and Charlie Wilson. Production also spent three days at the Charles Deering Estate in Miami, FL. Filming was completed in Apr 1987.
       Although the 11 Sep 1987 DV stated that Broadcast News was scheduled to open on 20 Nov 1987, the release date was pushed back to the Christmas holiday. To qualify for Academy Award consideration, the film opened in seven theaters in New York City; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; and Toronto, Canada. According to the 22 Dec 1987 HR, the preview was well received, earning a five-day box-office total of $273,405. Items in the 14 Dec 1987 and 29 Dec 1987 DV indicate that the film expanded to 667 theaters on Christmas Day.
       A critical success, Broadcast News was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Actor in a Leading Role (William Hurt), Actor in a Supporting Role (Albert Brooks), Actress in a Leading Role (Holly Hunter), Cinematography, Editing, Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), and Best Picture; and ranks #64 on AFI’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time.
       End credits state: “The producers wish to thank those who so generously lent their time and expertise during the research for Broadcast News, and: Juliet Taylor; Ed. Weinberger; Jack Winter; Jerry Belson; Treva Silverman; Patrick Williams; Michael Gore; The Mayor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, Washington, D.C.; The Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Capital Region and the U.S. Park Police; City of Alexandria, Virginia; Proton, Inc.; Sony Communications Products Company; Textronix, Inc.; Aurora Systems; Grass Valley Group”; and, “And Special Thanks to Holly Brooks.” A statement also reads: “Shot entirely on location.”
       John Cusack, who appears as “Angry messenger,” is credited onscreen as “John Cusak.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Apr 1988
pp. 48-49.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1987
p. 8, 30.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1987.
---
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1987.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 1987
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1987.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Dec 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1987
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1987
Section VI, p. 1, 44.
New York Times
16 Dec 1987
p. 21.
Newsweek
28 Dec 1987
pp. 48-49.
Variety
2 Jul 1986.
---
Variety
9 Dec 1987
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Gracie Films Production
A Film by James L. Brooks
Produced in Association with Amercent Films and American Entertainment Partners L.P.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Grip best boy
L.A. best boy
Washington gaffer
Washington key grip
Dolly grip
2d unit cine
Video coord
Video tech
Video tech
Video cam crew
Video cam crew
Video cam crew
Video asst
Elec best boy
Grip best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set des
Leadman
Washington leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint boss
Standby painter
Const foreman
Const foreman
Gang boss
Painter
Painter
Shop craftsperson boss
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Shop craftsman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Asst props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Scoring mixer
Orch
Newsroom theme written by
for Score Productions
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Temp dub ed
Temp dub ed
Temp dub ed
Temp dub ed
Foley, Taj Sound Works
Foley, Taj Sound Works
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec
Addl re-rec
Addl re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
Opticals, Cinema Research Corp.
Title coord
Graphics
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Addl makeup
Asst hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Exec in charge of prod for Gracie Films
Spec adv
Sr prod assoc
Sr prod assoc
Exec asst to Mr. Brooks
Asst to prods
Secy to Mr. Brooks
Scr supv
Tech coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft services
Unit pub
Auditor
Accountant
Asst accountant
Washington casting
Miami casting
Voice casting
Asst to William Hurt
Craft services
Craft services
Craft services
Dispatcher
Driver capt
Driver capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"L'Edition Speciale," written and performed by Francis Cabrel, courtesy of Editions 21 (Paris)
"Midnight Train To Georgia," written by Jim Weatherly, performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips, courtesy of Buddah Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 December 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 December 1987
Production Date:
2 February--April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 January 1988
Copyright Number:
PA356955
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
gauge
35mm
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
131
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28879
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Washington, D.C., Jane Craig is a successful television news producer at a national network. During a conference for local broadcasters, Jane gives an impassioned but poorly received keynote address, urging her colleagues not to lose sight of their journalistic integrity in the wake of increasingly sensational and frivolous assignments. Once the room clears, handsome but feebleminded anchor Tom Grunick compliments her speech and accepts her invitation to dinner. Back at her hotel room, Tom confides he is uncomfortable with his runaway success because he rarely understands the stories he reads on air. When Jane suggests he make an effort to strengthen his qualifications, Tom takes offense to her forthright manner and leaves in embarrassment. Later that evening, he calls Jane to reveal that her network has hired him as its new anchor. His first week on the job, Tom is intimidated by Jane’s intensity, but continually seeks her advice. Eventually, he convinces her to produce his latest story idea, which is well received by network management and bolsters his confidence. Over time, Jane realizes she has complicated feelings for Tom, even though she does not respect him. When Libyans bomb a U.S. military base in Italy, network director Paul Moore calls for a live breaking news report with Tom as anchor. Jane objects, insisting that her close but undervalued colleague, Aaron Altman, is substantially more qualified, but Paul refuses to listen. As a result, Aaron feeds information to Jane over the phone, which she relays to Tom through his earpiece. The report is a rousing success, and Tom is exhilarated by their teamwork, comparing it to “great sex.” Afterward, Jane visits Aaron, who is drunk at his apartment. ... +


In Washington, D.C., Jane Craig is a successful television news producer at a national network. During a conference for local broadcasters, Jane gives an impassioned but poorly received keynote address, urging her colleagues not to lose sight of their journalistic integrity in the wake of increasingly sensational and frivolous assignments. Once the room clears, handsome but feebleminded anchor Tom Grunick compliments her speech and accepts her invitation to dinner. Back at her hotel room, Tom confides he is uncomfortable with his runaway success because he rarely understands the stories he reads on air. When Jane suggests he make an effort to strengthen his qualifications, Tom takes offense to her forthright manner and leaves in embarrassment. Later that evening, he calls Jane to reveal that her network has hired him as its new anchor. His first week on the job, Tom is intimidated by Jane’s intensity, but continually seeks her advice. Eventually, he convinces her to produce his latest story idea, which is well received by network management and bolsters his confidence. Over time, Jane realizes she has complicated feelings for Tom, even though she does not respect him. When Libyans bomb a U.S. military base in Italy, network director Paul Moore calls for a live breaking news report with Tom as anchor. Jane objects, insisting that her close but undervalued colleague, Aaron Altman, is substantially more qualified, but Paul refuses to listen. As a result, Aaron feeds information to Jane over the phone, which she relays to Tom through his earpiece. The report is a rousing success, and Tom is exhilarated by their teamwork, comparing it to “great sex.” Afterward, Jane visits Aaron, who is drunk at his apartment. He hints at his affection for her, but Jane gives him a friendly goodbye kiss before rushing off meet her co-workers at a bar across town. Hoping to catch Tom alone, she is disappointed to find him leaving the party with a female colleague. As Jane’s infatuation with Tom grows, she musters the confidence to invite him to a party where the two acknowledge their mutual attraction. At the end of the evening, Tom pitches his first solo assignment about the rising dangers of date rape. Although Jane initially laughs at the suggestion, the piece later proves to be an emotionally powerful exposé that causes her to reconsider her more conservative reporting style. One afternoon, Paul Moore announces that he has been forced to implement a $24 million budget cut, resulting in massive layoffs. Sympathetic bureau chief Ernie Merriman warns Aaron that he may be fired. Determined to prove himself as an anchor, Aaron begs for a chance to read the weekend news. Ernie agrees, and enlists Tom to coach Aaron in the more superficial elements of his presentation. Although Aaron writes compelling copy, he lacks Tom’s charisma, and perspires excessively on camera. Meanwhile, Jane accompanies Tom to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but the two leave the party to share a romantic moment on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. As their embrace becomes intimate, Jane suddenly remembers her promise to check on Aaron after his report, and asks Tom to wait for her. At his apartment, Aaron relays the disastrous events of the evening and offers to cook Jane dinner. She declines, confessing her feelings for Tom. Aaron bitterly reminds her that the vacuous anchor personifies everything she has been fighting against. In an attempt to dissuade her from pursuing the relationship, Aaron admits he has secretly been in love with her for some time. Unsure what to do, Jane calls Tom to tell him she is running late, but he cancels their engagement. Upset, she confronts Tom at work the next day, and they reconcile. As the station restructures, Jane learns she has been assigned to replace Ernie Merriman, while Tom is promoted to the network office in London, England. Paul keeps Aaron on the team as a “cost efficient” reporter, but Aaron quietly resigns and accepts an anchor position in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he will be more appreciated. With only a week before his new job starts, Tom convinces Jane to take a vacation with him so they can test their compatibility outside the workplace. Before leaving, she meets Aaron for coffee. Still hurt by her decision, Aaron informs her that Tom faked crying onscreen during the date rape story. After reviewing the outtakes, Jane is disgusted by Tom’s breach of ethics and chooses to forgo their vacation. Several years later, Tom, Aaron, and Jane reunite at a broadcasting conference. While the men each have stable careers and growing families, Jane has accepted a prestigious position as a managing editor in New York City, and reveals she has begun a new, but happy, relationship. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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