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Sports Night is an Americanmarker television series about a fictional sports news show (also called Sports Night) and the people who work there. It focuses on the friendships, pitfalls, and ethical issues they face while trying to produce a good show under constant network pressure. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the half-hour prime time comedy-drama aired on ABC for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.

The show stars Robert Guillaume as managing editor Isaac Jaffe, Felicity Huffman as executive producer Dana Whitaker, Peter Krause as anchor Casey McCall, Josh Charles as anchor Dan Rydell, Sabrina Lloyd as senior associate producer Natalie Hurley, and Joshua Malina as associate producer Jeremy Goodwin. Regular guest stars included William H. Macy as ratings expert Sam Donovan and Brenda Strong as Sally Sasser, the producer of West Coast Update (another show on the same network as Sports Night) and rival of Dana. Other notable guest stars included Paula Marshall and more than one who appeared later on Sorkin's "The West Wing" including Janel Moloney, Teri Polo and Lisa Edelstein.

Overview

The fictional Sports Night is a sports news program in the style of ESPN's SportsCenter. It broadcasts from the fictional Continental Sports Channel (CSC), a subsidiary of Continental Corp, owned and run by Luther Sachs. (Some believe Continental Corp is loosely based on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns Fox Sports Net.)

Sports Night struggled to find an audience and ABC cancelled it after two seasons. Although it had the opportunity to move to several different networks, including HBO, Showtime and USA, Sorkin decided to let the show pass so that he could focus on his popular drama The West Wing.

Although the first season of Sports Night is a sitcom, it often is portrayed as more of a comedy-drama representative of some of Sorkin's later work on The West Wing. Sorkin intended for the series' humor to be drier and more realistic than typical sitcoms. He initially wanted the show to be recorded without a laugh track, but ABC network executives insisted on including one. The volume of the laugh track faded as Season One continued and was abandoned at the beginning of Season Two.

The dialogue is often delivered at a rapid-fire pace and intentionally exposes many aspects of communication that go beyond the words that are spoken. The show also frequently employed a technique known as "Walk and Talk," where the characters are walking from one location to the next while in conversation. This is another characteristic of Aaron Sorkin shows as "walk and talks" are used quite frequently in The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. A number of similar themes, elements and actors carried over from Sports Night to The West Wing (and later Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

The show's main focus is the relationships between the characters. These include an off-again on-again flirtation and romance between Dana and Casey, the oil-and-water passion between neurotic Natalie and nerdy Jeremy, and Dan's ongoing problems with relationships in general. The character of Isaac Jaffe hovers over his staff as a benevolent but uncompromising father figure.

The show is mostly set in the studio and station offices. However, in the second season Anthony's, a local sports bar and restaurant, was introduced as another location for scenes in order to get the characters out of the work environment a little bit.

Guillaume suffered a stroke midway through the first season, and this event was worked into his character and the season's story arc.

Sorkin wrote life experiences into his scripts.
  • Both season finales ended with metaphors for the fate of the show, and the way ABC failed to promote it properly. In the 1st season, Jeremy is obsessed with a baseball game where one team is going down to defeat. He thinks they'll have a 9th inning rally, very similar to the unknown fate of the show. A major plot point of the second season involved the sale of CSC. The eventual purchaser of the network tells Dana "Anybody who can't make money off of Sports Night should get out of the money-making business." This is an obvious jab at ABC's failure to make the show a hit.
  • Casey McCall is said to be modeled after Craig Kilborn, which is emphasized in the episode "Thespis" in the allusions to Casey having been offered "Conan's late night show." Dan and Casey's professional and personal relationship is said to be modeled after Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, who were the most well-known team on SportsCenter on ESPN.
  • In the episode "Dear Louise", Natalie tells Casey there is an error on the teleprompter, and that they left out the 's' in the phrase 'bulging disk.' This actually happened on SportsCenter, and anchor Steve Levy said 'bulging dik' before correcting himself.


Cast



Recurring guest cast



Awards



In addition to numerous awards and nominations from various guilds, the show was nominated for eight Emmys and one Golden Globe. It also won three Emmys
  • Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series - "Cut Man" (2000), Janet Ashikaga
  • Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series - "Pilot" (1999), Thomas Schlamme
  • Outstanding Multi-Camera Editing for a Series - "Small Town", Janet Ashikaga


Additional airings

  • After its cancellation, the rerun rights to the show were briefly picked up by Comedy Central.
  • In 2004, ABC1, a British offshoot of ABC, began broadcasting Season 1 of Sports Night in the United Kingdommarker for the first time, although the second season did not air until January 2006.
  • It was also aired briefly in Latin America on Sony Entertainment Television. The Spanish version of this channel currently runs the show in Spain.
  • Australia's Channel 7 aired the show briefly on early morning television.
  • Australia's Foxtel cable network aired Sports Night on The Comedy Channel in 2005.
  • The show was aired in Turkeymarker on DiziMax in 2006.
  • The show is being aired in Italymarker on Rai4 (July 2009).


Episodes

DVD release

On November 5, 2002, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 1 for the first time.

A special 10th Anniversary Edition Sports Night DVD set was released on 30 September 2008 from Shout! Factory with new bonus features including all-new interviews with creator Aaron Sorkin and cast & crew, featurettes and commentaries. Also included is a commemorative 36-page booklet.

DVD name Ep # Release date
Sports Night: The Complete Series — 10th Anniversary Edition 45 September 30, 2008


References

  1. Home Media Magazine | 'Sports Night' Redux


See also



External links




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