Peddling Heartbreak and Redemption

Aaron, you’re killing me. You’re just killing me:

Hit-hungry NBC has recruited some heavy firepower for its comeback bid, beating out CBS to land the new series from Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme.

Peacock made a 13-episode promise to Warner Bros. TV — and agreed to a near-record license fee — in order to snag the project from the minds behind first four seasons of NBC’s “The West Wing.”

Dubbed “Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip,” Sorkin and Schlamme’s latest collaboration is an hourlong drama set behind the scenes at a long-running Los Angeles-based sketch-comedy show not unlike “Saturday Night Live” (Daily Variety, Oct. 5).

There was a summer I watched A Few Good Men at least once a day. It’s the only movie in which I’ve ever found Tom Cruise remotely attractive, and it’s because he was speaking Sorkin’s words.

I’ve watched every newsroom drama ever made, every newspaper comedy, every single one. Sorkin’s “Sports Night” came the closest to recreating what a good day on the job felt like: the crazy people you spend all day every day with, the dates you blow off for work, the way you come in on a Saturday to pick something up and end up at the office for five hours, the love, the godawful backbreaking love you have for those crazy people because there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for each other, not when it counts, not when it matters.

And when The West Wing was new (and I’m not bitching, the present stuff does what it’s supposed to do and it’s good in its own way), man, I knew those people, lived and breathed with them. I finished watching Two Cathedrals and wanted to take up horticulture, because what on earth was the point of writing, if I couldn’t do that, and he’d done it already, the magnificent bastard.

Sorkin’s been telling the same story for a while now, about an extraordinary time and place in people’s lives when they do what they’re put on earth to do. He gets something bone-deep about moments and the people who rise to them and what happens when they fail, when love’s not enough and the dream’s made of fool’s gold and it all gets to be too much. You’d think I’d get sick of that story after a while. Never. Never ever ever.

Whether you’re right and whether you’re wrong, I’m the one who has the job and I love it. I love producing Sports Night. I live from eleven to midnight, and the rush is so huge that I don’t come down till three o’clock in the morning. I love doing Sports Night, and you used to, too.

— Sports Night, pilot