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imaginary shows

The Chat Room: The Long-Lost Script From Aaron Sorkin’s Show About Bloggers

This weekend, Aaron Sorkin's highly anticipated new HBO drama The Newsroom premiered, to decidedly mixed reviews. Almost as buzzy as the show, however, was this interview that a cranky Sorkin gave to a Globe and Mail reporter whom he dismissively termed "Internet girl," following this exchange.

REPORTER: For me, it would have more personally fascinating to watch a show about Internet news.

SORKIN: There should be a show about the Internet.

Well! Sorkin was just trying to distract sleuths from finding his first attempt at writing an HBO show about the modern world of news, The Chat Room. Luckily, Daily Intel has unearthed an early script of this show about the Internet. Like the show that eventually found its way onto the air, it is based on events of the recent past. Unlike The Newsroom, though, The Chat Room is true to the daily reality of working at a news organization — and maybe that's why it never made it to air. Note: The characters herein are fictional, and any resemblance to real people is unintentional. 

Episode One: Somewhere in Brooklyn, a young woman in sweatpants is hunched over an Ikea desk.  Her brow is furrowed, her hair is unkempt, she is in crisis mode. Pan in to tight close-up of her laptop screen, where a group chat is blinking. She types.

(10:52 AM) Malone, Noreen: guys they seem to have locked me out of the blogging software in the last hour
(10:52 AM) Malone, Noreen: do we go to regular help desk for that, or email someone else?
(10:52 AM) Amira, Dan: email webops
(10:53 AM) Malone, Noreen: thanks

The music swells, the camera softens. The girl clicks over a tab to her e-mail and sends a password change request. She sends a 900-word IM to her helpful colleague marvelling at the power of teamwork and friendship to effect change even in this cruel, modern world. There are many words in it that you would think she must have looked up in a thesaurus, because who communicates like that outside of AP high-school government term papers, but she didn't, okay? So don't dwell on that.

Cut to: Somewhere in lower Manhattan, several young bloggers sit staring straight ahead at their desktops. They are wearing headphones, and the only noise that can be heard is the click-clack of their keyboards. Pan in, yet again, on the blinking chat room.  News is getting made. Real, hard news, they are sussing it out. They are valiant heroes.

(12:49 PM) Amira, Dan: re: michael steele, michael phelps also shaved his mustache
(12:49 PM) Amira, Dan: one more and we have a trned
(12:49 PM) Amira, Dan: a trend, even

The young woman — now wearing jeans, with semi-brushed hair — takes off her headphones. She turns to him. She is inspired! She is ready to banter wittily! "You could shave yours!" He turns. "It's not a mustache. It's a beard." She nods. This is accurate. Headphones go back on. A lesson has been learned: There is nothing noble in faking a trend piece. To do so would be to let down the American people. The music swells, the camera's focus softens.

Several hours later, nothing has changed, except the girl is now drinking a diet ginger ale. (This is important, we'll learn later: The daily internal struggle over whether walking to the bodega to get a soda is worth the time away from the Internet will be a story arc later on in the season.) She is motionless, but for her right index finger (pan in for close-up) stroking the mouse, scrolling Twitter. The chat room blinks. She clicks over and the camera pans in.

(2:30 PM) Coscarelli, Joe: grabbing some lunch

She returns to Twitter, where she right-clicks on four crazy tweets Alec Baldwin has just sent and opens in new tabs. The music swells. With or without a full staff, the news must go on.

[End credits]

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Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Rolling Stone/2011 Getty Images