Film and TV

The Week in TV: Aaron Sorkin About to Get Aaron Sorkiny

Cable news, lesbians, and toddlers dressed like hookers. This was the week in TV Land:

• Good news for fans of impassioned monologues and unalloyed earnestness: HBO has picked up Aaron Sorkin's drama set in the world of cable TV news. Originally titled More as This Story Develops, the series is currently being retitled, presumably because there are limits to the precociousness of even premium cable outlets. The show doesn't have a premiere date yet, either, so this news is basically just HBO's attempt to let you know it's coming and give you time to work through all your justifiably unpleasant memories of the awful and cloyingly saccharine Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The series will revolve around a cable news anchor and his staff as they -- and I will quote the news release here -- "set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal entanglements." In other words, it's Sports Night at a different station. Jeff Daniels will star as the anchor, and the cast will include Olivia Munn, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Dev Patel, and Sam Waterston as the elderly patriarch Sorkin uses to hold his ensembles together. (Sports Night had Robert Guillaume, The West Wing had Martin Sheen, Studio 60 had unbridled piety.) Sorkin's on a hot streak after The Social Network; here's hoping he keeps his head in the game.

• The Parents Television Council usually spends their days wringing their hands about swear words and gay people, but this time they're actually onto something. The PTC has spoken out against TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras, the show that proves once and for all that some people should be sterilized and then beaten severely. One episode of the series recently featured a three-year-old dressed as Julia Roberts's hooker character from Pretty Woman, guaranteeing her decades of therapy should she survive past 18. The girl's mother said the get-up was "very innocent" and that "a lot probably would have been different if they aired the whole entire routine instead of just the hooker part." The mind reels at what "the whole entire routine" means here. The PTC said, "There's no question, TV executives are complicit in robbing these small kids of their childhood. For years we've seen adult sexuality being inappropriately and aggressively foisted on innocent young children, but children today are being sexualized at younger and younger ages." I have no idea where we go from here: Maybe we all petition for TLC to cancel Toddlers & Tiaras, or maybe we all have a serious talk about sending in Child Protective Services. I don't know. But I know that, for the first time in my life, I am totally with the PTC. That has to mean something.

• Continuing the trend of pitch pickups with risqué titles that will inevitably be softened down the road -- Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 became Apartment 23, while Good Christian Bitches became Good Christian Belles -- NBC has bought a comedy pitch titled My Best Friend Is a Lesbo. The series, which will probably be called something like Ladies' Day Out, will revolve around two female roommates -- one straight, one gay, both fabulous -- doing the single thing in Los Angeles. Props to NBC for being progressive in a 1996 way.

• In streaming news, Netflix has added the first three seasons of Breaking Bad to its Watch Instantly library, meaning you can relive all the emotional anguish of Walter White's spiral into chaos whenever you want. I kid because I love: Breaking Bad is one of the most powerful dramas on TV right now, and it boasts some of the best writing and acting you could hope to find. Netflix licenses come and go, too, so if you've been waiting to catch up with the show, now's your chance.

• Major hosting news: Eddie Murphy has been tapped to host next year's Academy Awards, which will be produced by Brett Ratner. Murphy stars in Ratner's upcoming Tower Heist, which makes me wonder if Ratner also considered Ben Stiller or a key grip for the job, but at any rate, Murphy's an impressive choice. The man absolutely owned the 1980s before making some terrible movies in the 1990s and some seriously shitty ones in the 2000s. If he uses even a fraction of his monologue to apologize for Norbit, we could be in for a great night.

• Because every now and then, the universe gives you something back: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has just released a "Schweddy Balls" flavor in honor of the SNL sketch you will spend the rest of the day quoting with coworkers. The new flavor is vanilla ice cream with rum and packed with fudge-covered rum and malt balls, which sounds almost illegally awesome. It's a limited-time offering, so be sure to eat those balls as quick as possible. Eat 'em up good.

• Last season's blooper reel from The Office. Watch it before it's taken down:

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson