This film takes place in a 24 hour span. The events of the film follows different characters and their experiences throughout their entire day. The film was produced by Brian Grazer who also produced the hit television show, "24", which also similarly follows different characters over a 24 hour span.
Mike Sheehan was the perfect choice to play the character of New York Detective Ritchie, a police source for Randy Quaid's character Michael McDougal. Sheehan was the key detective in the Central Park Case of 1989 in which five African-American and Latino-American teens from Harlem were wrongfully accused of attempted murder and rape of a 28-year-old white woman jogging in Central Park. Despite the overturn of the Central Park Five's conviction in 2002, Sheehan remains confident that the teens committed the crime. In the film, Sheehan's character Ritchie--when pressed by MacDougal and Keaton's character Henry Hackett about whether the two teenage African-American boys are NYPD scape goats for the killing of white businessmen in Brooklyn--gives the quote/headline for the newspaper: "They didn't do it!"
The radio broadcast heard during the opening credits of the film was originally intended to be a segment from Don Imus' "Imus in the Morning" program that was recorded live during an on-air interview with director Ron Howard. A portion of the segment appears as Michael Keaton walks through the newsroom.
Referring to the supposed inexperience of photojournalist Robin, Alicia says, "Robin is only 14." In reality, Amelia Campbell the actress who portrayed Robin was 29 years old at the time of the filming.
This is the third and so far, final film that Michael Keaton and Ron Howard have worked together on. They made Night Shift (Keaton's first theatrical role), Gung Ho and this film together. Keaton also starred in Clean And Sober, in which Howard was one of the producers of.
Jason Robards who plays the owner of The New York Sun, the fictitious newspaper depicted in the film won the Oscar for his portrayal of Ben Bradlee who was the editor in chef in All The President's Men.
Jill Hennessy who plays Robert Duvall's estranged daughter in the film originally had more to do in the film but was cut for pacing issues as well the fact that she was filming episodes for debut season on Law & Order, which was also filmed in New York City like this film was.
Glenn Close would go on to play a similar character to Alicia Clark's ruthless bean counting co-editor in chef in the hit FX series, Damages, where she played a ruthless and manipulative lawyer winning several Emmys during the show's run.
The second film where Director Ron Howard collaborated with Grammy and Oscar Winning Composer Randy Newman. Their first film was Parenthood, where Newman received an Oscar nomination for the song, "I Love To See You Smile".
Marisa Tomei's character of Martha Hackett, is a reporter for the New York Sun on maternity leave which means that Michael Keaton and Tomei's characters were co-workers before they got married. This is further explained by her decisions to help Keaton in the middle of the film to prove the innocence of the two boys framed for the crime as well as the line "God, I miss this place!", during the aftermath of the scene where Keaton is mobbed with his co-workers with complains and issues.
After the scene where Michael Keaton and Glenn Close have their fight in the printing room, he tells her "Congratulations, you've officially become everything you used to hate". This is quite similar to the character on the series, Damages in which Close's character tries to manipulate and turn Rose Byrne's character on the show to be as ruthless and calculating. However for this film, it means that Keaton and Close were very close friends and reporters before she became who she is in the film and universally hated by her colleagues.
The New York Sentinel is sort of an in-joke by Writer's David Koepp and Stephen Koepp. It's loosely based on the real New York Times newspaper for one and the other is the 1977 horror film, The Sentinel directed by Michael Winner which was also shot in New York City.
The scene where Spalding Grey and Michael Keaton have their fight over the phone, Grey says the line "You just lost your chance to cover the world!" which is a reference to the New York newspaper publication, The New York Times, which to this day covers all world current events in which the newspaper he works for depicts in the film.
All that Michael Keaton's character drinks during the entire movie is Coca Cola from start to finish to stay awake instead of coffee and gives him more hyperactivity energy-wise to keep up with everyone else.
This film shares several ties with Andrew Klavan's novel True Crime which was Directed by Clint Eastwood five years after this film wrapped production. What they have in common are: A crusading reporter (Keaton in this film and Eastwood in True Crime) Innocent men who framed for a murder they didn't commit A midnight deadline to print the story (in the Eastwood films' case, to stop an execution of an innocent man) Families in distress (Keaton with Tomei's impending birth and Eastwood with Diane Venora and their marriage) Tough but fair editor in chiefs (Duvall for this film, James Woods for True Crime), A rival reporter or bureaucrat (Close in this film, Denis Leary in True Crime) The Newspapers represented which not major league ones like the New York Times or San Fransisco Chronicle for example.
Their is an inference to a father-son like relationship between Michael Keaton and Robert Duvall's characters in the film displayed throughout the film. They both love their jobs, they display their passions, the way they express themselves and at the end finally culminated by Duvall visiting Keaton at the hospital and finally seeing his own daughter with her husband and child from outside the street while Keaton falls asleep with Tomei.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The two murdered businessmen in the film are from Sedona, Arizona, which is the information that Michael Keaton stole off Spalding Grey's desk during his job interview and becomes so irate about later on in the film.
Jason Alexander's character of the Parking Commissioner, Marion Sandusky does not appear until the last half hour of the film. He is mentioned several times early on in the film by Randy Quaid, Michael Keaton and Robert Duvall because Quaid was threatened by Alexander's character off screen and prompted to carry a gun for most of the film. Duvall is the one who ultimately remembers this during the bar scene when Alexander attacks Quaid for the columns he'd written about corruption in his department.
The gun that Randy Quaid's character, McDougall brandishes for protection is a 38. which is fired twice throughout the film. The first time is when Michael Keaton's character is mobbed with complaints and threats by his fellow staff members where McDougall shoots a two stacks of newspapers so that everyone could be quiet and let Keaton talk to Marisa Tomei privately. The second is during the bar fight with Sandusky played by Jason Alexander, the Parking Commissioner where the gun slips over to him and picks it up with the intention of shooting Quaid's character and instead shoots at the wall where the payphone where Glenn Close's character was calling to make a retraction on the "Gotcha" story which was wrong.
A foreshadowing of the fight between Sandusky and McDougall's characters is when McDougal's car is left double parked in front of the New York Sun building and then towed away. This would lead to Glenn Close taking Quaid's character for a drink at the bar where he's a regular in along with other newspaper reporters around the city and Sandusky happens to be in the moment he shows up and eventually leading to Close getting shot in her calf later on.
At the beginning of the film, Michael Keaton's character wakes up around 7 AM after coming home from work two hours earlier which is ranted loudly by Marisa Tomei's character to end the scene and at the end of the movie, Keaton walks into Tomei's room after giving birth to their baby in the hospital around the same time he woke up the previous morning with no energy and wearing a similar shirt and tie into bed. This means that all the events that happened in the film all took place in more than 24 Hours.
The amount that the two murdered businessmen had laundered for the mob was over Eight Million Dollars. Which is why Marisa Tomei's reaction to the list of numbers given to her by her friend was shocking.