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Broadcast News

A scene from "Broadcast News," this Tuesday's showing in the NAU Film Series.

The NAU College of Arts and Letters Film Series once again brings a smart, funny and timely movie to the screen. “Broadcast News” is not only a sweet romantic comedy starring Holly Hunter, William Hurt, and Albert Brooks, three of the best actors in the late 20th century, it also precisely foretells our current “fake news” era.

Written and directed by James L. Brooks, “Broadcast News” offers up a delightful love triangle while also providing a worrisome critique of the news industry. CNN was only 7 years old when “Broadcast News” premiered in theaters in 1987, but the movie offers plenty of warnings about the current zeitgeist of the “style over substance” 24-hour news cycle.

“Broadcast News,” Holly Hunter’s breakout picture, was a critical and popular success. It was a 1988 Oscar nominee for best picture, actor, actress, supporting actor, screenplay, cinematography, and editing. It did not win any Oscars, however, as “The Last Emperor” and “Moonstruck” swept up most of the categories in 1988.

“Broadcast News” wrestles with style over substance both in the newsroom and the bedroom. The fiery, smart, and driven Jane (Holly Hunter) is a network news producer in Washington D.C. She works with the handsome, superficial, and sympathetic Tom (William Hurt) and her neurotic and smart best friend, Aaron (Albert Brooks).

Though Jane despises glamorous media messengers and infotainment, she falls hard for Tom, her bureau’s celebrity anchorman; so much so that she doesn’t seem to notice or care that Aaron, a veteran reporter, is completely smitten with her. As the D.C. news bureau faces ethical quandaries and dramatic cuts, the romantic triangle between Jane, Tom unfolds in delightful and unpredictable ways.

Writer and director Brooks, one of the most influential people in the television and film industries, wrote the screenplay for “Broadcast News” based on his own journalistic experience during the 1960s. By the time, he had written “Broadcast News” he’d had plenty of experience bringing the newsroom to the small screen, as he was the executive producer of both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant.

Brooks helped to usher in a new era of intelligent television comedy in the seventies. Besides producing and writing for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “Lou Grant,” he was also the executive producer of the popular and smart series “Rhoda,” “Taxi,” and “The Tracy Ullman Show.” However, Brooks may be best known for his work on the iconic animated series, “The Simpsons,” as he has written for and produced over 600 episodes about the yellow family.

Brooks worked in television, two decades before he entered the film business, at 38 years of age. The first film he wrote and directed was the award winning “Terms of Endearment” in 1983, which won Oscars for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Brooks also directed “As Good as it Gets” and “Spanglish,” among others.

A master storyteller, Brooks’ smart, compassionate, and caustic insights about work and love have resonated with audiences for nearly a half of a century. “Broadcast News” is quintessential Brooks — and another gem brought to you by the NAU College of Arts and Letters Film Series.

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