Monthly Archives: October 2014

Roger Ebert’s Broadcast News Review

Attached is a link of Roger Ebert’s reliably insightful review of Broadcast News.

A line that stood out to me in his review is ‘”Broadcast News” is not about details, but about the larger question of whether TV news is becoming show business.” The movie made me think about the state of TV news, and whether what James L. Brooks predicted has come true. I think that it has. One could look at shows like Meet the Press, World News Tonight on ABC or NBC Nightly News to know that they rely on a star system. When ratings are bad, they switch the host to someone younger and different than their predecessor in an effort to boost ratings back up again. I think it’s interesting that more onus is on the host to bring in viewers as opposed to emphasizing content of the news and quality of reporting.

Some Things You May Not Have Known About Broadcast News

Marc Shaiman Glen Roven who play News Theme Writers, are real-life composers who have also done television jingles. Shaiman, after doing Broadcast News, went on to score major motion picture films and has since been nominated for five Academy Awards.

John Cusack is credited as “Angry Messenger”. During the staff firings, a young man yells “sons-a bitches!” and angrily throws a messenger bag to the office floor. We don’t see the character’s face, but the voice sounds like Cusack’s.

Holly Hunter was cast two days before shooting was to begin to replace the pregnant Debra Winger, for whom the part had been written.

Al Brooks revealed that when he first read the script, the scene where Aaron does a weekend broadcast simply noted “Something bad happens to Aaron on the air.” Albert was watching CNN when a reporter he’d never seen before (and hasn’t seen since) began sweating badly. Albert phoned writer/director James L. Brooks at three in the morning and stated that Aaron HAD to start sweating profusely.

Jack Nicholson was not paid for his role, at his own request.



Jane L. Brooks

“While you’re doing it, it is sort of a lonely kind of feeling, even though you are surrounded by so many people giving beyond the call…”

This is a quote I found from the director of Broadcast News James L. Brooks. I think that this could easily be a line from Holly Hunter’s character Jane.

Jane feels lonely, and that is why she cries silently every day. She feels lonely so she fall for a good-looking guy she meet, she is so desperate that she invited him over to her room the same day they meet. She feels all this weight on her shoulders from her job, but she does not realize that she has other people that support her, so she feels alone.

It is known that James L Brooks has an OCD character in all of this movies, and on this film, it is Jane. It could be argued that Brooks took some a page from his own life as a basis of Jane. In the quote, Brooks is talking about making movies:

“That’s generally true of movies, there’s a sense of urgency, people risking their tail, people working past exhaustion. That’s what moviemaking is. It’s lonely because you asked all of them to work that hard for this idea you had.”

This could be compared to Jane, when she got promoted to executive producer, she was in charge of all the people working there, and she knew that. But she also knew that she could not do anything to help them when they got laid off.

Can you guys recall any other OCD moments that Jane had that could be applied to James L Brooks’ quote?



But Broadcast News didn’t just foresee a crisis in journalism; it illuminates the crisis in romantic comedies currently bedeviling Hollywood, as screenwriters and directors still can’t find a way to make a heroine’s career anything but an obstacle to her heart’s desire. Hunter’s character, network producer Jane Craig, became a template for a new kind of rom-com heroine—the workaholic who must choose between icy careerism and a warm romantic life. But the film’s respect for Jane’s work, and its famously audience-unfriendly ending, are reminders that few of the movies that have followed in Broadcast‘s footsteps have shared its guts


Not so in Broadcast News—spoilers ahead. Jane has to choose between two suitors: handsome, inexperienced Tom, who’s being groomed for the anchor’s chair, and brainy, resentful Aaron, who’s being passed over. She chooses neither. Instead, she picks her career, and her persnickety sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Seven years later, Tom and Aaron are each married; Tom’s a network anchor, Aaron’s a local reporter, and Jane is still the best at what she does.

Given our discussion about the romantic comedy as an allegory today, I thought this Slate article was interesting.


This is probably the strangest but coolest films we’ve watched so far in class! The message behind this film is not one that is easily hidden and gives the audience a punch that television has the potential power to easily consume those without them even knowing it. I really enjoyed how David Cronenberg used special effects to highlight the abstract thought of television’s physical effects on the human body in addition to the effects of the mental state of mind. I think if this film just showed hallucinations without incorporating the gory elements, it’s message wouldn’t be as powerful since television is becoming the new flesh of society. Another successful aspect of the creation of Videodrome is the how the director decided to keep the audience in the state of limbo, leaving them confused whether or not Max was experiencing hallucinations or reality.


Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 1.58.07 PMThere was this scene in the movie that stood out to me. It is right after he shot is partners at the TV station, he is trying to run away from the building, but there are two men carrying doors that slow him down. I don’t really understand what this scene is supposed to mean, and as the professor said in class, I am assuming that the filmmakers are smarter than me, his walking into doors has to have a meaning.

Here are some of my ideas, I don’t know how right I am, or if anyone else has different interpretations.

Doors are ways to get in and out. He needed to get out physically of the building, but he also needed to get out of Videodrome, and out of his mind into reality.

But, after he walks through the doors, he starts hallucinating again, that is when he notices the gun attached to his hand, and he tries to put it back in his stomach.

This might be a little far off. When a God (Videodrome?) closes a door, he opens a window. So a window is open, the window into his mind, an we start seeing his hallucination.

But I still wonder if there are other doors, either opened or closed, present in the movie?

What do you guys think of this scene with the doors?

Videodrome Re-make

According to this article from 2 years ago, a remake of Videodrome has been in the works for a while may have been picked up by Adam Berg.

However, the project is having troubles getting off the ground because they don’t know if they can pull it off without that 80s style.

A major idea for how the film would be adapted for modern audiences was to explain the freaky occurrences with nano technology and blow the whole affair into a massive sci-fi action thriller.

I feel like this idea for the modern remake is very ironic and the individuals looking to adapt this screenplay missed the entire point of the original film.  What are your thoughts?

“A Clockwork Orange of the 1980’s”

When we had first watched “Videodrone” last Monday, I was thinking the same thing everyone else was, what the hell did I just watch? I was already questioning the fact that the cast included Debbie Harry from Blondie, and that I had never heard of it. The film was unmistakably really strange, but after discussing it in class it made sense.

We talked about how the film showed what was believed to be false violence and how audiences ate that up, but if they would have realized that it was real, they would have been disgusted and outraged, such as how we watch game of thrones.

Andy Warhol had described this film as  “A Clockwork orange of the 1980’s”. In this film, Alex acted out ultra-violence for sheer pleasure and was later shown clips of violent acts as a way to cure him.  I didn’t see the comparison until I had looked back on A Clockwork Orange.

Do you feel that this is an accurate comparison or what other films do you think of when you watch this?

For those of you who haven’t seen the film a synopsis and the trailer can be seen here:


“Videodrome” is a film that did a great job on establishing a horror atmosphere for the viewers; and at the same time revealed a media-related social issue. The film director Cronenberg used this film to promote for media ethics. New York Times commented on this film and the director Cronenberg that,

“Mr. Cronenberg, who also directed ”Scanners,” is developing a real genius for this sort of thing; one measure of the innovativeness of ”Videodrome” is that it feels vaguely futuristic, even though it’s apparently set in the present.”

I also find another film review that deeply discussed the implicit meaning within the film. Hope you all enjoy it!

Questions: 1. What is your opinion on the thrilling elements in the film? 2. What do you think is the problem of Max associated in the film? 3. As a media worker, what are the standards that we suppose to follow?


As a horror film from early 80’s, I think the film did a great job on creating the thriller atmosphere for the audiences; and at the same time, revealed the existing media issues in the society and promoted further works on media ethics. I found an article that deeply discussed the implicit meaning of the film. Hope you guys enjoy!

Two questions: 1. What is your opinion on Cronenberg’s use of thrilling elements in the film? 2. What do you think is the problem of Max?