The cast of Morning Glory, currently in theaters nationwide, gathered at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel on Sunday, November 7 to discuss the film.
Morning Glory centers on workaholic up-and-coming news producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) after she is hired by network executive Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) to raise the ratings of bottom-ranked national morning news program Daybreak. Harrison Ford plays hard news reporter-turned anchor Mike Pomeroy, new to the program and not exactly a team player, while Diane Keaton stars as the diva morning show veteran co-anchor Colleen Peck, who is willing to do anything to achieve ratings success. Patrick Wilson co-stars as a news magazine producer, and – eventually – Fuller’s love interest. Written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses) and directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Changing Lanes), the film centers upon the zany world of morning television programming, and wrangling the many personalities that populate it.
Though Sunday’s conversation began on a light note — Patrick Wilson naked on the bow of a ship, eh? — the film’s cast and crew proved that there was much to be debated regarding the state of news media today. Spinoff Online has all of the details from the press conference.
Question: Were there any real-life broadcast journalism counterparts that you looked to in your research for these roles?
Diane Keaton: Absolutely — Diane Sawyer. I did an interview with her, and it was for a different movie, and I remember I was looking at her…and I got mesmerized by her face.
Rachel McAdams: I shadowed some executive producers. I was fortunate enough to be invited into the control room of Good Morning America and The Today Show. Not a lot of female executive producers. It’s very uncommon. So I think there’s only been a handful, at those bigger shows, which says something about the hours and what it requires. I’ve realized it’s actually easier to be an actress than an executive producer on a morning television show. You have a little bit more time to yourself.
Harrison Ford: I didn’t want to imitate anybody else. I wanted to figure out who Mike Pomeroy was, and then I wanted to be Mike Pomeroy as a network news executive. So I didn’t pattern my character after any particular newsman.
You’ve been on a lot of these shows over the years – what’s the craziest thing you ever had to do on one of these shows?
Patrick Wilson: I had to strip on the bow of the Spirit of New York for GMA when I was doing The Full Monty on Broadway, and we were doing something for press. And, yeah, so we were promoting that and it was just terrible. And the worst part was I believe a g-string went over the bow. I mean, it’s horrible…really, when you think of it. It’s one thing to do it in the show, because you’re like, “Oh no, really, by the end, they’ll care about us as people, and won’t just be stripping. It’ll be showing your soul.” And then you do it on the bow of a ship, and you feel like a moron!
Do you enjoy watching morning news shows? If so, which ones? If not, what’s your preferred method for catching up on the news?
Keaton: I immediately turn on CNN. I think I’m a creature of habit. It’s just automatically where I go to, and I love it. I love watching it. I’m a big proponent of CNN. I’m a big fan. I love Anderson Cooper.
Jeff Goldblum: What I watch these days is Morning Joe. I get a big kick out of it. In LA, It comes on at 3:00 AM. So if I wake up in the middle of the night, I go, “Oh, I can watch a morning show, is that on yet?” You know, I can see the first hour of Morning Joe. I like it. They talk about, political issues and more. And they have people on. But it’s kind of free-wheeling.
McAdams: First thing I do is I turn on the radio to CBC in Canada. And I’ve really gotten into podcasts lately, too. Radio Lab, This American Life and Moth.
Ford: I also turn on the news first thing in the morning because I’m the first person up. And I’m alone. I turn on the news just to find out if there’s been…a big accident. My real news in-depth comes from reading newspapers and I listen to the radio a lot. I enjoy listening to BBC News and CBC News. They have some very interesting things to say. But I can’t bear that cheerful morning stuff. I do like to be in the company of somebody like Harry Smith, and I think Matt Lauer does a real good job.
Harrison, your character is all about the dumbing down of news for infotainment. What are your personal opinions on that? What you think can be done about it?
Ford: It’s worse than that, actually, I think. What I’m about to say does not apply to those people that do responsible newsgathering and real journalism. And those people are out there. What I’m fearful of is the kind of political opinion disguised as news, where people can go to have their prejudices confirmed. And there’s a whole branch of what passes as news…that does that. Just whatever your political persuasion or your preconceptions are, there’s a show that’s going to come right down your pipeline and tell you you’re right, and everybody else that doesn’t think that way is wrong. And that’s not news. That’s religion. And it makes me crazy. So that’s my personal opinion.
How do you think we can prevent the news from becoming strictly entertainment, and losing sight of the serious issues at play?
Ford: Just don’t buy whatever kind of soap they’re selling. If you don’t like it, you go someplace else. But I think it’s not so much a question of any particular personality. It’s coming from us. It’s coming from the public. We are less interested in a depth of understanding of the issues that face us in common. We’re less active as in terms of trying to create a national consciousness as we are in … describing what’s singular about us. There’s not the sense of community that was once and is the power of any nation. And so we are exploiting divisiveness. I’m not a nationalist, per se. I’m not talking as a patriot. I’m talking as somebody who wants to see the problems of our society addressed. And I think that depends on appropriate information delivered in depth.
Wilson: Growing up the son of a news anchor, I agree 100 percent with what Harrison’s saying about the information spewed down. I remember when you didn’t have an opinion, when it was good to not have one. To not know the politics of your newsman. Like that’s how we all grew up. I didn’t know the politics of my own father, because he always told both sides of the story. And I love that, ’cause it made you choose. It made you present the facts and choose your own.
Now… weirdly, the only time you get the other side is when Bill O’Reilly goes on The View. And then you’re like, “Right. That is crazy, what they’re saying.” ‘Cause then you see both sides. I guess if that kind of entertainment happens, you can see. And maybe those fans will watch that show and understand, “Oh. Well, maybe I don’t feel that way.” And you know, if entertainment’s gonna go that way, go that way. I’d rather have that sort of free speech. I’d at least rather have both sides of the entertainment. But let’s get back to actual news. And whether that’s via the Internet or all one CNN source, fine, I’ll take it.
Keaton: My part in [Morning Glory] is I’m representing the person you love to hate. And I’m the person who’s representing entertainment as the way to go. I’m the one who says, “Gimme a chance, I’ll do anything. I’ll do anything, just make this show work.” And that is really an essential core of the American ideal, too, is to make it work… to manage to find a place for yourself in this world, to be free to do it.
I think what Patrick said about his father was the most important thing that anybody’s said all day today, which is his father taught him to think by not having an opinion. That’s a responsibility of a parent. That is your first role model in life. And I think what Patrick said is really, really invaluable. Because it’s very seductive to be caught up with Charlie Sheen. It’s much easier to think about him than it is to think about such enormous issues, which are complex, like the health care bill. That’s really hard to understand. That requires real thinking. And that’s what we need the most in this country, is to establish a way to learn to think, and to respect that.
Morning Glory is playing in theaters nationwide.