Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Passion of the Sorkin

I think I'm going to write more about writing here from now on. This blog started as a way for me to share what's really going on with me, and these days, pen and paper (or keyboard and screen) have been heavy on my mind. I'm looking at my future, trying to decide where to go and what to do, whether it's best to concentrate on writing my own material or on refining other people's, and why the options seem so limited right now. I'm doing Cinema Hype and preparing to apply for the ABC/Disney Talent Development Fellowship, among other things, trying to stay sharp and make opportunities for myself. There are a lot of words in me, and I think I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the best way to get them out. Anyway. Writing about writing.

My old friends Kendra and Amy came to visit me this weekend; Amy's getting married in June, and we got together to do dress fittings and shoe shopping and stay up late chatting (check; check; double check). It was wonderful to see them both; the three of us spent three summers working and living together, and at the end of the summer it was always like losing a pair of limbs. Kendra stayed with me an extra night, and we spent the time as two unashamed TV fiends do: we curled up on the couch with blankets and mainlined a half-season of Studio 60.

When I watch Aaron Sorkin's shows, I always learn things. He teaches me about voice and timing, about the interplay of comedy and drama, about the importance and appeal of communities in storytelling. But mostly what he teaches me is about passion. Sorkin cares deeply about platonic male friendship; that's why we get Casey and Dan, Danny and Matt, Josh and Sam, and Leo and President Bartlet. We know he cares because the result is always surgically precise and delivered like it's the Gospel itself, and also because he essentially tells the same story over and over, mulling and refining and tinkering with the same basic structure. He never gets tired of talking about it, which is why he always has relevant things to say on the subject. Sorkin is also passionate about baseball, Gilbert and Sullivan, liberal politics, and television, which is why he continually works any combination of those things into his work. He's like a kid showing his parents around at open house(or, more accurately, like Tom Jeter at Studio 60?), always wanting to show off the things that are interesting to him. It shows, the passion. It makes a difference. It's why, at the end of the Studio 60 pilot, I hear "Pressure" and see Matt and Danny walk through the semi-lit theater, and I get butterflies in my stomach. It's why I have to smile when he slips little bits of TV history in around the edges--he can't not. He so wants us to know and care, and so I do. It's inspiring.


Anonymous said...

Hi Liz!
I agree wholeheartedly about Mr. Sorkin. That's why tonight will be so lonely. Our "friends" have left and we don't know if we'll ever see them again. I hope we get a reunion eventually, like you did with your friends.
Best of luck cultivating your words.

Liz said...


I knowwwww--I Tivoed The Black Donnellys, but my heart's not in it. I haven't watched it yet. I do think NBC will air the last seven S60 episodes at some point, though maybe not, if TBD does really well. I haven't looked at the ratings.

Thanks for the good wishes!