Albert 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 and Director James L. Brooks at three in the morning, and stated that Aaron HAD to start sweating profusely.
John Cusack is credited as "Angry Messenger". During the staff firings, a young man yells "sons of 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.
Marc Shaiman and Glen Roven, who played News Theme Writers, are real-life composers, who have also done television jingles. Shaiman, after doing this movie, went on to score major motion picture films, and has since been nominated for five Academy Awards.
Early in the film, Aaron (Albert Brooks) is told a man is waiting for him downstairs for an interview. Tom (William Hurt) asks if he can come along. There were scenes filmed that showed the interview. The man they interviewed went on to inspire Tom to be a better reporter. Those scenes were cut from the final film.
Aaron Altman asks Tom Grunick if he can name each of the Cabinet Members, and, when Tom tells him yes, and Aaron asks, "All twelve?", to which Tom replies, "Yes, Aaron, all twelve", and then Brooks condescendingly tells Brooks, "There are only ten." In fact, there were thirteen in 1986: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury. As of 2016, there are fifteen: the thirteen in 1986 plus Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
First theatrical film in four years for James L. Brooks, whose previous film was Terms of Endearment (1983), which won five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Albert Brooks and Jack Nicholson appeared in this movie and Terms of Endearment (1983). At least eighteen members of cast and crew worked on both of these movies. Also, both of the movies were Oscar nominated in numerous categories, with this movie and Terms of Endearment (1983) receiving seven and eleven Academy Award nominations, respectively.
It has often been stated that Jack Nicholson in appeared in a cameo, and is uncredited, but both are incorrect, as Nicholson appeared a few times in this movie, and is billed for the film, but not in artwork and promotional materials, and not also at the picture's start during the opening credits, but is billed only during the film's closing credits.
Second of four movies that Jack Nicholson made with James L. Brooks, with the others being How Do You Know (2010), As Good as It Gets (1997), and Terms of Endearment (1983). The latter two bagged acting Oscars for Nicholson, for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, respectively. Two of Nicholson's three Academy Awards have been won for acting in films written and directed by Brooks. Nicholson's other Oscar win was for a non-Brooks film for Best Actor, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, but was unable to win an Oscar in any of these categories with the film therefore not being an Academy Award winner, but only a multi-Academy Award nominee.
Jane Craig was inspired by CBS News Producer Susan Zirinsky. Before filming began, Holly Hunter spent time job shadowing Zirinsky to see how things worked in a real newsroom. Hunter also cut her hair into a "bob" style haircut to resemble Zirinsky.
When Jennifer is sent to Anchorage, Alaska, to report on bodies that had been found, after being buried by a serial killer, that was the Robert Hansen case. He would hunt women after raping them . Eventually convicted of seventeen murders.
Switching Channels (1988) was made and released following on the heels of this multi-Academy Award nominated, and more successful, movie. Switching Channels (1988) ended up being a critical and box-office failure.
One of three cinema movies released in 1987 that featured Jack Nicholson, who appeared in this movie as evening news anchorman Bill Rorish. The other films were the lead role as Francis Phelan in Ironweed (1987) and as the devil Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick (1987).
The office building where the network's Washington, D.C. offices are located, is 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, a 1986 building where occupants were still moving in the year before the movie was released, and a block away from the old Post Office building, where a new Trump Hotel is in the process of being erected.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
James L. Brooks said he was open to who Jane would end up with at the end. He told Premiere Magazine: "After principal photography, I got the idea for a cab ride at the end, and I set it up so that Holly didn't know Bill was on the set. Bill was prepared, but no dialogue. All he'd know is that he couldn't get on that plane, and that he goes back and gets in that cab with her. I knew I'd get one take, and I knew that Holly wouldn't break character, and I'd get, who knows. So you can imagine the excitement built up to this. It's ready, and a guy on the crew gave it away by saying 'Bill' just before we started to roll, and it ruined it, and I had an out-of-body experience. (Hurt and Hunter) saw that scene later, and they both thought I should end the movie that way. But it just wasn't right."