270. Broadcast News

Movie: Broadcast News

Release Date: December 16, 1987

Director: James L. Brooks

Starring: William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter.

Tag Lines: “It’s the story of their lives.”

Relevance: In 1988, the year that I watched ‘Broadcast News’ when it aired on HBO, I was beginning my senior year in High School. As every human in America knows as soon as you start your senior year, you are already looking to the future. That future was either get a job or go to college, unless you are wealthy then a third option of backpacking across Europe is a possibility. But I did not come from a wealthy family, so that option was not going to happen. For me it was either get a job or go to college. However, for my mom, there was only one option. I was going to college.

From kindergarten through sixth grade, I was the perfect little student. I did my homework, got excellent grades and had perfect attendance, except for the two weeks in fourth grade when I had the chicken pox. Something happened after the sixth grade. I lost all interest and school just became a place for me to get bullied. I had a few friends, but I always felt like an outsider that didn’t fit in at all to the limited cliques that were available. I wasn’t a jock, although I sometimes tried. I got decent grades and always made the honor roll, but I was nowhere near a brainiac. (I rarely opened a book to study, the grades were just luck I guess.) I’m not the most attractive human, so class beau was off my list as well. I enjoyed music, art and theater but my self confidence was so low, I didn’t think I was good enough to pursue more than I did. So like a lot of kids in school, I just got by.

In my mom’s eyes, I was headed to college. In my eyes, I hated the idea of going. What I really wanted to do after graduation was move to New York City, get a job and work towards a career in entertainment. So I told my mom. Her response was, “Absolutely not. You are going to college. End of topic.” And it was. I didn’t push back. So I started that “college prep” thing that students do. I wasn’t thrilled, but I felt like I had no choice.

‘Broadcast News’ came at this very vulnerable time in my life. I watched it with my family and absolutely fell in love with it. The story was a basic love triangle, but one with extremely strong characters, very witty dialogue and a setting I had never witnessed before, the newsroom. I became fascinated with the news and the behind-the-scenes production of it. I watched the movie numerous times and the more I watched, the more I loved it. I didn’t think I was good looking enough to be William Hurt’s Tom Grunick, but I started thinking that I could be a Jane Craig or even an Aaron Altman, Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks’ characters respectively. So when people started asking me what I was going to college for, I started telling them “Broadcasting.” And that’s exactly what I did.

I’m not sure many people can honestly say that a movie steered their way to academia, but I definitely can. Now I knew by my second year in college that I didn’t want to pursue a career in Broadcasting, but I was too lazy to switch majors and like my earlier school experience, I lost interest. At that time, I still wanted to be in NYC, but fear and life choices stopped me from pursuing that dream. So I graduated with a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Broadcasting, and I have never once used it towards a job. (But I still graduated with honors without opening a book.)

Despite that, I only have fondness for ‘Broadcast News’ and don’t hold grudges for steering me toward a degree I didn’t want. We actually do have choices after all. James L. Brooks made a brilliant film that I have cherished since the first time I watched it. I just wished that when I thought I could be Holly Hunter or Albert Brooks I realized that it was actually as an actor, not in the newsroom.

Today’s Thoughts: ‘Broadcast News’ is the first of three James L. Brooks films to make my list of most influential movies of all time. There is actually another one set for tomorrow, a James L. Brooks double feature if you will. But today I watched ‘Broadcast News’ and fell in love with it all over again.

I probably haven’t seen this movie since the 1990’s, and smiled and laughed today like it was the first time. The writing is excellent, no other way to describe it. The characters are all well defined and superbly played by the actors. All three, Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt, give brilliant performances, well deserved of the praise they received for them. And fucking Joan Cusack. She is one of my all time favorite actors and always adds a certain spark to any character she plays. Her run through the newsroom has to be one of the funniest and most brilliant scenes in the film. Although the line, “Oh yeah, I lost one of your shoulder pads. I think it drowned” gets me every time.

“Broadcast News’ is a wonderful film and whether you are interested in news production or not, you will be totally entertained. Be sure to check it out.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, William Hurt (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Holly Hunter (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Albert Brooks (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, James L. Brooks (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Michael Ballhaus, (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Marks (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director, James L. Brooks (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Holly Hunter (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, William Hurt (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, James L. Brooks (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, James L. Brooks (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Holly Hunter (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, James L. Brooks (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, Holly Hunter (winner), National Film Registry (2018), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Albert Brooks (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Albert Brooks (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Holly Hunter (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, James L. Brooks (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Holly Hunter (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, James L. Brooks (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, William Hurt (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, James L. Brooks (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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