Broadcast News (1987) Poster

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A forgotten classic which should be re-evaluated
nk chada1 July 2002
For me this wonderful rollercoaster of a film bears repeated pleasurable viewings. Its about the tangled lives of three very different people. Holly Hunter is the obsessive workaholic producer. Albert Brookes plays the unprepossessing but brilliant journalist. William Hurt is the affable but dumb new kid on the block, news anchor.

The classical love triangle emerges with the stunningly witty and self deprecating Brookes in love with Hunter but she of course is attracted to Hurt.

This film works on many levels. At the very least it is a brilliant comedy with the one liners flying so thick and fast that each viewing bears a new harvest of ones that you may have missed last time. Its also a film about attraction and unfulfilled romance.

But perhaps most importantly the film examines the modern obsession with physical appearance and its ultimate triumph over intellect as a valued human attribute. This is personified by the meteoric career success of the Hurt character in contrast to Brookes relative decline.

Despite being fifteen years old the film has some startingly relevant messages about modern news values and the continuing decline in journalistic standards.

This film is a classic in every sense and it is difficult to understand why it has been so neglected
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Smart scripting.
movibuf19624 February 2003
BROADCAST NEWS marks the first time I saw Holly Hunter and I was mesmerized at her focus, quickness, passion, and finally her eccentric prettiness and sex appeal. The movie is hers from start to finish, and makes the 'love triangle' subplot almost unnecessary. She's so smart in the film (a rarity for a lead female) that you almost think if her only romantic choices are William Hurt's style-but-no-substance anchor or Albert Brooks's neurotic but intellectually arrogant reporter, she'd be better off with Robert Prosky. Though I can best relate to Albert Brooks (the guy who loves the smart, alluring girl who only sees him as a 'brother'), he still ticked me off a bit. My favorite scene in the film is him pouring his heart out to Hunter on a front porch confessing his love, then taking her by surprise and kissing her romantically (the only time he gets the chance). When he goes petulant later in the story, it's a bit hard to take. Fortunately, the James Brooks script and direction are a joy throughout, culminating in two perfect scenes: one with Joan Cusack unraveling seconds before a tape feed, and a marvelous 360 (?) pan thru the studio showing a live news feed from producer to anchor in one shot.
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Sadly true and great.
Juliette200521 October 2005
I say sadly because if you see this movie now, you realize how low our media has sunk- all the warning signs are in this movie.

It's a great film, I think the last great James Brooks film, but others may disagree. It has rich characters (who are believable as well), great acting, great writing, and although the music got a little cheesy, I even liked that.

William Hurt has never been better. Holly Hunter is stunning. And Albert Brooks walks away with every scene he's in- this triangle of people is beautifully drawn and compelling and made the whole movie soar above it's vital and important topic of the News, and how it's slowly being compromised in our nation.

Watch this with NETWORK for a truly fun and frightening evening.
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One of My Favorite Comedies
ArizWldcat16 March 2002
This movie is one of my favorite comedies of all time. The dialog is crisp, the pace is fast. Not only is this a clever comedy, this is an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes in the television news business.

There are so many funny lines...a couple of my favorites:

Ernie Merriman: (sarcastically) It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room. Jane: (seriously) NO, it's not, it's awful!!

Aaron: He must be good looking Jane: How do you know that? Aaron: No one invites a bad looking idiot to their room!

The performances of Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks, and William Hurt were absolutely brilliant! Even years later, I remember this movie well. Often forgotten is the wonderfully funny Joan Cusack! I love the scene where the newsroom personnel are racing to beat a deadline. There are so many funny scenes that it's hard to pick a favorite. I highly recommend this film.
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Terrific and smart
Doogie D5 July 1999
I'm sitting around going through movie listings and not really seeing anything I want to see. My appetite keeps saying, "Something like BROADCAST NEWS." That's what I want. Something smart and funny, with adult ideas and great acting and writing, and a directorial style that doesn't call attention to itself. This may well be Hurt's best performance (is this or THE BIG CHILL, to my mind): however eccentric, Hurt is smart, and to play an unintelligent person without making sure -- wink wink -- the audience knows -- wink wink -- hey, I'M not stupid... well, that's fine acting right there. Hunter is note-perfect, and Albert Brooks is a revelation. (And he can read and sing at the same time!) Great, great work.
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The World of Network News...
wrdiggs23 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
BROADCAST NEWS brings the world of network television newscasts to the screen in a very realistic way--where ratings rule and flash wins out over substance and the "charisma" of the anchor who brings us the news is seen as more important than the news itself.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and acting nominations for each of the three leads. Amazingly, no statuettes were achieved.

Holly Hunter deservedly won an Oscar six years later for THE PIANO, but her portrayal of Jane Craig, the no-nonsense producer for the Washington News Bureau, is perhaps her most memorable performance.

Craig is an "old-school" newswoman who came up the hard way, by being a good reporter. She is disturbed over what is happening in the broadcast industry as she sees quality being sacrificed over the battle for good ratings with a cheap pricetag. Hard on her peers in her demands for excellence, even against the flow of pressure in the other direction, she manages to turn everybody off, including potential relationships. Whenever she's alone with her thoughts, even for a moment, Jane breaks down in tears, then is incredibly able to go right back into a professional mode at a moment's notice.

William Hurt is Tom Grunick, the young newscaster with no experience but plenty of good looks--and, after all, that's what the public wants. Tom finds himself attracted to Jane, but she is at first upset with what she perceives is his undeserved success. Tom Grunick is exactly what Jane Craig has been campaigning against.

Later, though, even Jane succumbs to Tom's charm, much to the dismay of newswriter Aaron Altman, played by Albert Brooks.

Altman is the antithesis of Grunick--a gifted journalist who really knows his stuff, but lacks the presence and confidence that Tom displays before the cameras--and he's been secretly in love with Jane for years.

Brooks is one of the funniest actors of all-time. When the station starts to cut back in personnel to cut expenses, Brooks' character, Altman tries to save his job by trying out for the weekend anchor position. In the middle of the newscast, Altman breaks out in the worst case of "flop-sweat" in history--"Even Nixon didn't sweat this much."

Frustrated when he sees Tom getting ahead of him career-wise as well as winning the affections of Jane, Aaron pours out his heart to her, calling Tom 'the devil.' "He'll be attractive, he'll be nice and helpful...he'll get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation...he'll never do an evil thing, he'll never deliberately hurt a living thing...he'll just bit by little bit lower our standards where they're important...just a tiny little bit.........and he'll get all the great women."

In the end, Jane finally recognizes Tom for the phony he really is, but that doesn't stop him from going all the way to the top. Altman, rather than compromise his standards, leaves the Washington Bureau and goes to work at a small station in the Pacific Northwest where he will be appreciated. Years later, they all meet again and find they've come to accept each other and how they fit in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone who has spent any time in the broadcast industry will recognize some of the inner workings of this crazy business--and will be able to laugh and cry right along with Jane and Tom and Aaron.
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Did Walter Cronkite act like this?
helpless_dancer23 April 2000
Excellent movie about a big media firm and the goings on both on and off camera. Covering several years, the film centers on 3 upwardly mobile, young hopefuls, all striving for their place within the corporation. Well written dialogue, flawless acting, and a riveting story made for 2 hours of solid entertainment.
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Clever, witty and funny
MovieAddict201627 May 2005
James L. Brook is one of those directors who always seems to take a quirky look at life. He isn't only the producer for "The Simpsons," he has some classic comedies under his belt -- "Broadcast News" is one of them.

Although it doesn't match his later effort "As Good As It Gets," "Broadcast News" is still a very clever, funny and witty movie about a television broadcasting station and all the problems they suffer. There's a great comedic sequence of physical humor where Joan Cusack is running around the building trying to rush a news tape to the editing room in a matter of mere minutes before it is to be broadcast live on TV.

This isn't only very truthful in terms of how hectic broadcasting stations are operated, but also a skillful and honest portrayal of human beings.

A low-key, subtle movie with good acting (especially from Hurt, who I don't always like so much) and apt direction.
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Beware of TV news!
davidholmesfr31 January 2003
Essential viewing for anyone who watches TV news as it may help to become a little more sceptical, or even cynical. On a personal note I recall taking a course some years ago about being interviewed for TV - what to do, what not to do. The course instructors impressed on us that TV news was a "branch of show-biz". That depressing view, which is probably even more valid today than when it was made, is reinforced by this film. Never mind journalistic integrity, what counts is the ability to look good and smile nicely. And make sure you don't sweat on camera.

The interactions between the three main characters form the centre-piece, each with his or her own ambitions, capabilities and beliefs. Brooks takes these differences and sets them into the volatile setting of a TV news studio, and adds more than a pinch of love interest to the mixture. The result is a complex, if somewhat overlong, portrayal of how we compromise every day in order to meet our ambitions and take others with us. It is always entertaining, although the final scene was, perhaps, unnecessary given everything that had gone before.
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And now a word from our sponsors
tieman6415 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Broadcast News" finds a spunky journalist, played by Holly Hunter, producing investigative news reports for a major news network. She's a motor-mouthed maverick, dazzlingly good at her job and with little time for romantic relationships. Enter William Hurt and Albert Brooks, two men who vie for her love.

Brooks is an old-school journalist who adores Holly because she represents everything good about journalism. They both believe that the media exists to test the Gods with a hammer; to educate and fight for truth. Children of the sixties, they embody hippie values. They're defenders of the public good. Knights who fight valiantly with pen and camera. Hoo rah!

William Hurt, in contrast, is a far more complex character. Initially awkward, clumsy and self-depreciating, he gradually reveals himself to be a sexy, slimy and manipulative high achiever, adept at climbing the corporate ladder. Unlike Holly and Brooks, he's symbolic of modern media values: media as spectacle, journalism as entertainment, news anchor as celebrity, truth as subject to editing board. You want to despise Hurt and his blip-time, junk food journalism, but can't quite manage it. He's playing the game by its own rules. Do we condemn him for lacking a moral backbone? Do we condemn the game? Why have characters like him evolved?

This isn't Chayefsky's "Network", and so the film never bothers to answer or raise these questions. Content to keep things on the level of light comedy, it ends with Hurt being promoted to London Division and Brooks being booted to a tiny community network. Holly, having rejected both men, remains caught between them. The last bastion of media integrity, this spunky reporter remembers her roots, mourns the loss of Brooks and warns herself to be on the guard of future William Hurts.

It's a cute ending, but compared to "Network" the film seems positively trite. Chayefsky's vision is one in which global media, despite its ubiquity, offers less meaningful information. He foresees a world in which globalisation has homogenized cultures, information has become subject to corporatisation and a handful of media monopolies control all international news. This is a world in which the truth is subject to shareholder meetings and economic interests. A world in which viewer ratings determine content and opinion polls dictate top stories.

Perhaps this is why "Broadcast News", which longs for the glory days of journalism, ends on such a bittersweet note. It knows what the future holds. Made in 1987, its been living it for at least a decade.

Today, in the digital age, things are even worse. Mergers and acquisitions have left a very small number of massive firms dominating the communication landscape. With this has come the hyper-commercialism of content, the barrier between the creative/editorial side and the commercial side having all but collapsed. Yes, today everyone might be able to start their own blog or website, but these are grass roots affairs. As the communication reach of the individual increases the size of the individual's world increases likewise. Voices must project both further and louder, battling, perhaps with futility, that deafening white noise, the incessant verbal static of the global community.

8/10 – A witty script, some funny moments and a brief cameo by Jack Nicholson elevate "Broadcast News" somewhat. Interestingly, unlike most films about the media, it never dips into satire, and instead plays things as a straight love triangle.

Worth one viewing.
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