“I wrote all 45 episodes of Sports Night. I wrote the 88 episodes of The West Wing during the four years I was writing the show. I wrote 22 episodes of Studio 60,” he says, referring to the television shows he created. “I understand that’s different from other shows where the show-runner assigns episodes out, and the show-runner just does a final polish on his typewriter. That’s not what I do. I collaborate with a great many people. I collaborate with the director. I collaborate with the actors. I collaborate with the designers. But I’m a playwright. I don’t write by committee. I write by myself.”
If that is so...why did each and every one of those shows have a writing staff at all? I could list, here, the names of all the other writers whose names are on the scripts of all those shows. Some of these are credited alongside Sorkin and some are not. And some he really did write all by himself.
But you can't tell me television networks will pay an entire room full of writers when one guy is actually generating 100% of the content. And of course, he wasn't. Do I believe all or almost all of those scripts went through rewrites (something more than "a final polish") by Sorkin (whether his name is on them or not) in his role as creator/chief writer/producer? Yes I do, absolutely, and very much to their benefit in nearly every case.
But that's not at all what he seems to be suggesting in this quote. Instead, he seems to be suggesting that every thought presented or word spoken onscreen in the shows he created was his and his alone. And I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.
I know about the oversensitive writer (believe me...I know about the oversensitive writer). This may be part-and parcel of the breed, and especially not shameful in those of us still hammering away upon our own individual walls.
But in a multiple-award winning, millionaire screenwriter who is so famous that his name actually gets used in movie ads...it's just unseemly.
So that's the first thing that got me thinking my man Sorkin was veering towards self-parody. And here is the second.
In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) models Facebook on Harvard's legendary final clubs, private groups made up of some of the school's most privileged students. But the clubs are as secretive as they are exclusive, which meant researching them was no easy task for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Luckily, he got a hand from one of the school's most famous alums: Natalie Portman.
Way to distance yourself from that "elitist" label, Mr. Sorkin. I'm sure her experience as a beautiful if annoying movie star is very typical of Harvard grads.