When “The Newsroom” returns to HBO this Sunday, July 14 for its second season, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is sequestered in a meeting in present day with the ACN network attorney (Marcia Gay Harden) as they prepare for a deposition.
“In that opening scene with Marcia Gay Harden, you see the beginning of the structure that we use for the whole season: They are being prepared to give a deposition in a law suit that I won’t get into because I don’t want to give out spoilers,” creator/executive producer Aaron Sorkin told the assemblage at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences a few weeks ago.
“At the end of the opening episode, we are back in that room with Marcia Gay Harden. Then we go back there in the fourth episode and again in the sixth episode, so we see the whole season sitting in the basket of that deposition prep.”
While Season 2 of “The Newsroom” begins in the present day, it flashes back to August 23, 2011 — with all the action in Libya when hundreds of rebels stormed Muammar Gaddafi’s compound — and it will wrap up on election night 2012.
Also on the plate for this season, ACN CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) is forced to deal with the fallout from a remark that Will made: “The Tea Party is the American Taliban.” Things come to a head when the news team’s reporters are being blocked from important Senate meetings and Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) is forced to remove Will from the 9/11 anniversary coverage because several of the potential interviewees — Rudy Guilani is named — have declined to speak with him.
“[HBO lets you make your series like] different books in a series of books, so I wanted the second season to be different,” Sorkin explained. “I wanted there to be one story that we are telling all through the season, which we do. That story is two scenes from getting started [they screened the first 15 minutes for the audience], so that was the overall thing I wanted to do.”
Of course, exactly what that story is remains to be seen, but it will involve some of this season’s guest stars — some returning and some new — including the aforementioned Harden and Fonda, as well as Chris Mossina, Grace Gummer, Constance Zimmer and Hamish Linklater.
One storyline that Emily Mortimer, who plays MacKenzie McHale, revealed deals with the issue of chemical weapons — and Mortimer wanted to make sure that Sorkin got credit for being prophetic.
“One of the things that is so frustrating about Aaron — because of the lag between the time that he writes a script and the time that you get to see it — is he has the most incredible foresight,” she said. “He really does. One of the main themes: chemical weapons. He wrote that months before Syria came out in the news.”
In addition, to quell the ire of the many broadcast journalists who feel that the show is an attack on their profession and the work they do, Sorkin says there will be an episode in the new season that is an “absolute love letter.”
“The Newsroom” premieres its second season on Sunday, July 14 at 10/9c on HBO.