Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

Morning Glory

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Dir. Roger Michell

In the years to come, history will look back upon the world of news media with a simple debate: sugar vs. bran cereal. That’s the crux Morning Glory strives to an answer for, if you’re an over-analytical twit who can’t sit back and enjoy the light-hearted comedy that stars Rachel McAdams as the perpetually active executive producer of a morning news program so doomed it lives in the sub-basement of a media corporation.

The “spunky young girl in a big media world” idea has been popularized to death since The Devil Wears Prada gave us a glossy world of New York media. Lucky for us, Glory starts in Jersey with a slow pullback on a blind date with Becky (McAdams) who can’t put the crackberry down long enough to enjoy a blue-plate special with a recognizable but unknown man (TV’s Noah Bean, notable for runs on Damages, Dark Blue and Ed). From there Becky’s hectic and workaholic life is thrown for a late-aughts tumble when she loses her job to someone the network is “grooming” out of an ivy league college. After receiving one of the most brutal dressing downs from her mother about working in television (“it was inspiring when you were eight. It was still inspiring when you were eighteen. But now that you’re twenty-eight, it’s depressing. You should stop before it becomes embarrassing,”) plucky Becky puts her “feelers out” in a montage.
She lands the world’s worst gig at a fourth-ranked cable news clone running their morning show, DayBreak, and proceeds to turn the entire dreary gag-show around by hiring legendary newsman/Dan Rather clone Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford).

Of course, worlds collide since Pomeroy wants to cover “hard news” and repeatedly informs us with the hammer-click of Chekov’s gun that “morning shows don’t break news.” Becky, whose caffinated smile is constant, responds that they can. A few minutes later, she discovers spectacle brings in the viewers that DayBreak desperately needs after The Today Show, Good Morning America and Early Show continue to score better interviews and exclusives. Without a stable of competent bookers or a very clever nod to Julie Chen, Becky relies on stunt casting and spectacle going so far as to ambush 50 Cent and promise him “as many of your songs as you want to perform.”

Beneath a very charming rom-com, there is the seething pulse of the Newspaperman’s Legacy. We are not Dan Rather and I’ll wager very high that dream is dead. My generation working these jobs are the tireless night blogger, the assistant producer planning and Jeff Wells is dead on when he surmises this is why older media folk bristled at this. As he wrote, “Critics have obviously been jettisoned from newspapers over the last few years in much the same way that crusty older news guys like Harrison Ford’s Mike Pomery, an old-school Dan Rather type, have been put out to pasture by TV networks. And so they’re hardly snickering at Pomery’s predicament. They’re saying, “Hey, that’s us!” They resent that Morning Glory presents Ford mainly as a grumpy, semi-alcoholic bear who doesn’t get it, and not as a semi-good guy who represents an in-depth news tradition that’s being slowly weakened or diminished.”

The Beckys aren’t fake. They exist in a landscape now that pushes ratings and an emerging media concept where dinosaur concepts like “tv ratings” will be treated as pittance compared to the YouTube views we can get if the weatherman is sent on a roller coaster. Speaking with experience on TV and Web, it was a constant battle to push video views and measuring them against what went on air. Did specific video do better? Why did a list of space ships get double the traffic that a song received? Why do Sasha Grey’s five favorite films have nearly a hundred-thousand vi-oh, right.

What else can we do in a world where “sugar” is desired over bran? Make bran donuts? Sprinkle sugar over the bran? Continue to try breakfast parallels that only function to depress me? I don’t know. Glory is stylistically fine except of its condensation of Manhattan/Brooklyn/Jersey City into this walkable super-city. As a friend noted, “that scene where she’s walking across the Brooklyn Bridge–where the fuck is she going? To work?”

Indeed. Where the fuck is she and media going? Simple.

To Harrison Ford’s frittata class.


Written by john lichman

December 16, 2010 at 11:08 pm

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