Broadcast News

Writer-director-producer James L. Brooks’s romantic comedy, his first film after Terms of Endearment, takes on the world of network news in one of the best entertainments of 1987. Holly Hunter plays a gifted and idealistic producer, and her performance is 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. Albert Brooks as a bright, caustic behind-the-scenes reporter and her best friend, who hankers after something more in both departments, gives the performance of his career. Completing the triumvirate and romantic triangle is William Hurt, also at his best, as a rapidly rising anchorman who lacks the creativity and intelligence of his two colleagues, but beats them hands down in public charisma. The movie is at its finest when it shows all three working together to produce the evening newsan exciting and instructive look into the processes involvedand at its worst when it saddles them with a pat prologue and epilogue showing the characters years before and after the film’s main events. Shot entirely in Washington, D.C., the film is full of relevant insights into the kinds of compromises, trade-offs, and combinations of skills and personalities that produce media, and the personal stories are deftly integrated. Also making significant actorly contributions are Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, Robert Prosky, Peter Hackes, and Jack Nicholson as the slimy New York anchorman. (JR)

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