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Broadcast News (film)

Broadcast News
File:Broadcast News.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Produced by James L. Brooks
Written by James L. Brooks
Starring William Hurt
Albert Brooks
Holly Hunter
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Richard Marks
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 16, 1987 (1987-12-16)
Running time
133 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $67,331,309

Broadcast News is a 1987 romantic comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by James L. Brooks. The film concerns a virtuoso television news producer (Holly Hunter), who has daily emotional breakdowns, a brilliant yet prickly reporter (Albert Brooks) and his charismatic but far less seasoned rival (William Hurt). It also stars Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, and Jack Nicholson (billed only in the end credits) as the evening news anchor.


The film revolves around three characters who work in television news. Jane Craig (Hunter) is a talented, neurotic producer whose life revolves around her work. Jane's best friend and frequent collaborator, Aaron Altman (Brooks), is a gifted writer and reporter ambitious for on-camera exposure who is secretly in love with Jane. Tom Grunick (Hurt), a local news anchorman who until recently was a sports anchorman, is likeable and telegenic, but lacks news experience and knows that he was only hired for his good looks and charm. He is attracted to Jane, although he is also intimidated by her skills and intensity.

All three work out of the Washington, D.C., office of a national television network. Craig is drawn to Grunick, but resents his lack of qualifications for his new position as news anchor. Altman also is appalled by Grunick's lack of experience and knowledge, but accepts his advice when finally getting an opportunity to anchor a newscast himself. Unfortunately, he lacks Grunick's poise and composure in that seat, his debut as anchor a resounding failure.

Altman acknowledges to Craig that he is in love with her while trying to dissuade her from pursuing a romantic relationship with Grunick. As a massive layoff hits the network, resulting in many colleagues losing their jobs, Altman tenders his resignation while tipping off Craig to a breach of ethics on Grunick's part. She decides she cannot in good conscience get personally involved with Grunick and she no longer has either man in her personal or professional life, at least until the three of them reunite several years later.



The score was by Bill Conti. Emmy Award-winning composers Glen Roven and Marc Shaiman make cameo appearances as a dorky musician team who have composed a theme for the news program in the film.

The female lead was originally written for Debra Winger, who worked with James L. Brooks in Terms of Endearment. However, Winger was replaced by Holly Hunter at the last minute because of her pregnancy.[2]


Box office

Broadcast News was given a limited release on December 16, 1987 in seven theaters, and managed to gross USD $197,542 on its opening weekend.[3] It went into wide release on December 25, 1987 in 677 theaters, grossing $5.5 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $51.3 million in North America and $16.1 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $67.3 million.[4]

Critical response

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and praised the film for being as "knowledgeable about the TV news-gathering process as any movie ever made, but it also has insights into the more personal matter of how people use high-pressure jobs as a way of avoiding time alone with themselves".[5] In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "As the fast-talking Aaron, Albert Brooks comes very close to stealing Broadcast News. Mr. Brooks ... is more or less the conscience of Broadcast News".[6] Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his review for the Chicago Reader, praised Holly Hunter's performance as "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".[7] Hal Hinson, in his review for The Washington Post, wrote, "[James] Brooks is excellent at taking us inside the world of television, but not terribly good at analyzing it. He has a facile, too-pat approach to dealing with issues; there's still too much of the sitcom mentality at work".[8] In his review for Time, Richard Corliss praised William Hurt's performance: "Hurt is neat too, never standing safely outside his character, always allowing Tom to find the humor in his too-rapid success, locating a dimness behind his eyes when Tom is asked a tough question -- and for Tom, poor soulless sensation-to-be, all questions are tough ones".[9] The magazine also ranked Broadcast News as one of the best films of the year.[10] The film garnered a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes[11] and an 84 metascore at Metacritic.[12]


The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards at the 60th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (William Hurt), Best Actress (Holly Hunter), Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks), Best Original Screenplay (James L. Brooks), Best Film Editing (Richard Marks) and Best Cinematography (Michael Ballhaus).

American Film Institute

38th Berlin International Film Festival

Home media

A digitally restored version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection. The release includes new audio commentary featuring Brooks and Marks, James L. Brooks—A Singular Voice, a new documentary on Brooks’s career in television and film, featuring actresses Marilu Henner and Julie Kavner, among other collaborators, an alternative ending and deleted scenes, with commentary by Brooks, new video interviews with veteran CBS news producer Susan Zirinsky, one of the models for Holly Hunter’s character and an associate producer on the film, and a featurette containing on-set footage and interviews with Brooks, Hunter, and actor Albert Brooks. There is also a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Carrie Rickey.[14]


  1. ^ Box Office Information for Broadcast News. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Worrell, Denise (December 21, 1987). "Holly Hunter Takes Hollywood". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office : Appealing to All 'Generations'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  4. ^ "Broadcast News". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  7. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  8. ^ Hinson, Hal (December 25, 1987). "Broadcast News". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  9. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 14, 1987). "A Season Of Flash And Greed". Time. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Best of '87". Time. January 4, 1988. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  11. ^ "Broadcast News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  12. ^ "Broadcast News Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  13. ^ "Berlinale: 1988 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  14. ^ "Broadcast News". The Criterion Collection. 

External links