Film and TV

The Week In TV

There were pick-ups, castings, and even a chance to mist myself with hand sanitizer. This was the week in TV Land:

• It's been a good year for Aaron Sorkin. After washing out of TV in 2006-07 with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- a cloying, unfunny show that was mainly a chance for Sorkin to exorcise his failed relationship with Kristin Chenoweth in a setting where his on-screen stand-in always got the last word -- he's bounced back in features thanks to the success of The Social Network. On the heels of that film's critical and commercial success, HBO has ordered a pilot for a show created by Sorkin and set behind the scenes of a nightly cable news show.

This seems like a good opportunity for Sorkin to combine the political commentary of The West Wing with the live-TV-production stories of Studio 60 and the diamond in the rough that was Sports Night. The journalism and punditry arena also seems likely to lend itself more easily to impassioned speeches about goals and hope than a mediocre drama about a third-rate SNL. Cable seems like a good fit for Sorkin: he can tell more honest stories, not worry about expletives, and have a crack at crafting more engaging hours that don't have to rely on typical act breaks. The man's got his flaws, but when he's on point, he can blow the doors off.

• Speaking of The Social Network: Jesse Eisenberg hosted SNL last night, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed up to play along for the mostly enjoyable monologue. The buzz on Twitter -- which is to say, the three or four comments I skimmed when it happened -- indicated surprise that Zuckerberg would be able to laugh at himself. I should remind you, though, that Zuckerberg's personal current net worth is just shy of $7 billion, so having a late-night sketch show ride the wave of a scathing biopic is probably pretty low on his list of things to worry about.

• Javier Bardem has been offered the lead role of Roland the Gunslinger in Ron Howard's film and TV adaptation franchise of Stephen King's seven-volume series The Dark Tower, though Bardem has yet to officially accept. Bardem's an interesting choice, especially given his Spanish accent, which will take the character in a different direction than, say, Viggo Mortensen, who was also rumored to be wanted for the part. The first film is set for release in 2013, with TV seasons to follow.

• The best part of last week's The Office was the cold open in which Michael Scott met David Brent. Yes, it makes no sense if you think about it for too long, but props to producer Paul Lieberstein for down-playing it in the press and hiding the scene's real length until airtime. It was a fun moment, and a reminder of just how different the two characters are. (Michael's grown over time to at least have the potential to be more sympathetic.) In other guest star news, Will Ferrell will appear in a four-episode arc later this season as another branch manager whose own quirks will (the network hopes) act as a helpful buffer during the show's transition to an era without Steve Carell.

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson