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Broadcast News (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Broadcast News
Broadcast News.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames L. Brooks
Produced byJames L. Brooks
Written byJames L. Brooks
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyMichael Ballhaus
Edited byRichard Marks
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 16, 1987 (1987-12-16)
Running time
133 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$67.3 million

Broadcast News is a 1987 American romantic comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by James L. Brooks. The film concerns a virtuoso television news producer (Holly Hunter), who has daily emotional breakdowns, a brilliant yet prickly reporter (Albert Brooks) and his charismatic but far less seasoned rival (William Hurt). It also stars Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, and Jack Nicholson (billed only in the end credits) as the evening news anchor.

In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[2][3][4]


The film revolves around three characters who work in television news. Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a diminutive, talented, uptight, controlling, aggressive, and intelligent producer whose life revolves around her work. Jane's best friend and collaborator, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), is a gifted writer and reporter, ambitious for on-camera exposure and secretly in love with Jane. Tom Grunick (William Hurt), a local news anchorman who was promoted from sports anchorman, is tall, handsome, likeable and telegenic, but lacks news experience, general knowledge, intelligence and language skills. He knows that he was hired for his good looks and charm. He is attracted to Jane, although he is also intimidated by her skills and intensity.

All three of them work in the Washington, D.C., office of a national television network. Jane is drawn to Tom, but resents his lack of qualifications for his new position as news anchor. Aaron and Jane go to Nicaragua to report on the Sandinista rebels there and get caught up in a shooting battle between them and the contras but remain unscathed and bring home footage that wins the approval of their national anchorman.

At an office party, one of Jane’s female friends asks Jane if she would mind if she made a pass at Tom. Jane is ambivalent about Tom, saying no, then yes, then no again. News arrives of a Libyan plane having bombed a U.S. base in Italy. The network chief decides to put on a news show on the spot, with Tom as its anchorman. Jane resents this and tells the network chief that Tom is in no way qualified for this job. The network chief disagrees with her and tells her sarcastically that it must feel great to always be right and more intelligent than everybody else in the room. Jane replies that it feels awful. Aaron is devastated that he has no role in the report as he had previously spent time overseas and knew a great deal about the subject matter. Watching the report from his home and noticing missing facts, Aaron calls Jane with the pertinent information, which she feeds to Tom through his earpiece. The special report is a huge success due to their teamwork.

Aaron also is appalled by Tom's lack of experience and knowledge, but accepts his advice when finally given an opportunity to anchor a newscast himself. Unfortunately, he lacks Tom's poise and composure in that seat. Tom coaches him but when Aaron becomes an anchorman for the first time in his life, he breaks out in what he calls a “flop sweat” and his debut as an anchorman is a disaster. Aaron acknowledges to Jane that he is in love with her, while trying to dissuade her from pursuing a love relationship with Tom. As a massive layoff hits the network, resulting in many colleagues losing their jobs, Aaron tenders his resignation and tells Jane he plans to take a job at a local television station in Portland, Oregon. However, before he leaves town he tells Jane of an interview Tom had conducted with a date rape victim in which Tom appeared to be weeping out of sympathy to his interviewee. Aaron says that Tom’s tears were fake and then leaves. Jane views the footage herself and realizes that Tom had staged his tears.

Meeting Tom at the airport for a planned week-long getaway, Jane angrily confronts him, saying that his actions in the date-rape-victim interview were a breach of journalistic ethics and that she cannot in good conscience become personally involved with him. They separate. Jane has lost both Aaron and Tom.

The three meet again seven years later. Tom has become a national network anchorman, Aaron has a wife and child, and Jane has a new boyfriend who works in the Surgeon General’s Office and loves water skiing. The film ends with Tom walking away and Aaron and Jane sitting on a bench, contemplating their lives.



The score was by Bill Conti. Emmy Award-winning composers Glen Roven and Marc Shaiman make cameo appearances as a dorky musician team who have composed a theme for the news program in the film.

The character of Jane Craig was based on journalist and news producer Susan Zirinsky. She served as associate producer and technical advisor for the film.[5]

The female lead was originally written for Debra Winger, who worked with James L. Brooks in Terms of Endearment. However, Winger became pregnant and was replaced by Holly Hunter.[6]


Box office

Broadcast News was given a limited release on December 16, 1987, in seven theaters and managed to gross USD $197,542 on its opening weekend.[7] It went into wide release on December 25, 1987, in 677 theaters, grossing $5.5 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $51.3 million in North America and $16.1 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $67.3 million.[8]

Critical response

Film critic Roger Ebert or the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and praised the film for being as "knowledgeable about the TV news-gathering process as any movie ever made, but it also has insights into the more personal matter of how people use high-pressure jobs as a way of avoiding time alone with themselves".[9] In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "As the fast-talking Aaron, Albert Brooks comes very close to stealing Broadcast News. Mr. Brooks ... is more or less the conscience of Broadcast News".[10] Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his review for the Chicago Reader, praised Holly Hunter's performance as "something of a revelation: her short, feisty, socially gauche, aggressive-compulsive character may be the most intricately layered portrait of a career woman that contemporary Hollywood has given us".[11]

Hal Hinson, in his review for The Washington Post, wrote, "[James] Brooks is excellent at taking us inside the world of television, but not terribly good at analyzing it. He has a facile, too-pat approach to dealing with issues; there's still too much of the sitcom mentality at work".[12] In his review for Time, Richard Corliss praised William Hurt's performance: "Hurt is neat too, never standing safely outside his character, always allowing Tom to find the humor in his too-rapid success, locating a dimness behind his eyes when Tom is asked a tough question -- and for Tom, poor soulless sensation-to-be, all questions are tough ones".[13] The magazine also ranked Broadcast News as one of the best films of the year.[14] The film garnered a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states: "Blockbuster dramatist James L. Brooks delivers with Broadcast News, fully entertaining with deft, deep characterization."[15] The film has an 84/100 average score at Metacritic.[16]

"Broadcast News" was placed on 61 "ten-best" lists, making it the most acclaimed film of 1987.[17]


Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards Best Picture James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actor William Hurt Nominated
Best Actress Holly Hunter Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks Nominated
Best Original Screenplay James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Cinematography Michael Ballhaus Nominated
Best Film Editing Richard Marks Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Director James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy William Hurt Nominated
Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Holly Hunter Nominated
Best Screenplay James L. Brooks Nominated
Eddie Awards Best Edited Feature Film Richard Marks Nominated
American Comedy Awards Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Holly Hunter Nominated
Funniest Supporting Male Performer - Motion Picture or TV Albert Brooks Won
Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear James L. Brooks Nominated
Silver Bear for Best Actress Holly Hunter Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Albert Brooks Won
Best Actress Holly Hunter Won
Best Screenplay James L. Brooks Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing - Feature Film James L. Brooks Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Director James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actress Holly Hunter Won
National Board of Review Best Actress Holly Hunter Won
Top Ten Films Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Albert Brooks Nominated
Best Actress Holly Hunter Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film James L. Brooks Won
Best Director James L. Brooks Won
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
William Hurt Nominated
Best Actress Holly Hunter Won
Best Screenplay James L. Brooks Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay James L. Brooks Nominated

Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home media

A digitally restored version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection. The release includes new audio commentary featuring Brooks and Marks, James L. Brooks—A Singular Voice, a documentary on Brooks's career in television and film, an alternative ending and deleted scenes with commentary by Brooks, an interview with veteran CBS news producer Susan Zirinsky, and a featurette containing on-set footage and interviews with Brooks, Hunter, and actor Albert Brooks. There is also a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Carrie Rickey.[22]


  1. ^ Box Office Information for Broadcast News. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "'Jurassic Park,' 'The Shining,' And 23 Other Movies Added To National Film Registry". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  3. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  4. ^ "National Film Registry Turns 30". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. ^ "Susan Zirinsky", American University
  6. ^ Worrell, Denise (December 21, 1987). "Holly Hunter Takes Hollywood". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  7. ^ "Weekend Box Office : Appealing to All 'Generations'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  8. ^ "Broadcast News". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  11. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  12. ^ Hinson, Hal (December 25, 1987). "Broadcast News". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 14, 1987). "A Season Of Flash And Greed". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  14. ^ "Best of '87". Time. January 4, 1988. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  15. ^ "Broadcast News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  16. ^ "Broadcast News Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  17. ^ "Film Critics Agree: 1987 Was a Good, Bad Year". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1988.
  18. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  19. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  20. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  21. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  22. ^ "Broadcast News". The Criterion Collection.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 September 2020, at 20:08
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