A favorite with viewers, news anchor Will McAvoy has found a safe niche with
bankable ratings on his 8:00 p.m. flagship cable show, News Night. Numbed by
success, McAvoy has become stoic, complacent, cynical content not to rock the boat as
he delivers the nightly news straight down the middle of the road dialing it in as he
avoids ruffling feathers with anything resembling politics. What fire he still has, he
reserves for the cutting sarcasm and general unpleasantness that earn him no fans with
his news team.
In a literal blink of an eye or perhaps an optical illusion McAvoy is catapulted
from apathy to engagement when a spontaneous outburst leads him to tackle the
principles of American patriotism in a public forum. Surviving the professional fallout from
his unexpected tirade following an enforced vacation, McAvoy returns to work to discover
that most of his staff has jumped ship for another show and is forced to work with several
new team members brought on board during his absence.
McAvoys boss, Charlie Skinner, the unapologetically old-school president of
ACNs news division, laments the changing face of the news. Setting the stage for Wills
return to the standard set by news legends such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter
Cronkite, Charlie covertly orchestrates the hiring of Wills new executive producer, the one
person who can restore Will's passion and bring the best out of him whether Will wants
it or not.
Wills new executive producer is MacKenzie McHale, back from 26 months
embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacKenzie was once romantically involved with Will
and knows the idealism he has buried beneath a veneer of apathy and cynicism. With
their shared past, she knows exactly how good he can be. Even more unsettling for him,
she challenges Will to abandon the successful, middle-of-the-road approach that has
made him so popular with both sides of the aisle, and realize his full potential by
delivering the news with integrity.
Also imposed upon Will are Jim Harper, Margaret Jordan, Don Keefer, Neal
Sampat and Sloan Sabbith, the newsroom staff. Although this group finds itself off to a
tumultuous start when breaking news comes over the wire, they immediately come
together for one elusive goal: to do TV news well. Jim Harper is MacKenzies loyal senior
show producer. Though only 27 years old, Jim is more like the old-school reporter Charlie
than he is like his contemporaries. He finds himself instantly smitten with Margaret
Jordan, a young intern-turned-associated producer, who is already in a relationship with
Don Keefer, Wills former executive producer. Neal Sampat, a young, resourceful selfmade
newsman writes Wills blog and scours the Internet for stories, often finding leads
his colleagues have missed. Sloan Sabbith is ACNs financial news analyst.