Broadcast News (film)

Last updated
Broadcast News
Broadcast News.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Written byJames L. Brooks
Produced byJames L. Brooks
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Richard Marks
Music by Bill Conti
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 16, 1987 (1987-12-16)
Running time
133 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million [1]
Box office$67.3 million

Broadcast News is a 1987 American 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 the latter's charismatic but far less seasoned rival (William Hurt). It also stars Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, and Jack Nicholson.


The film was acclaimed by critics and at the 60th Academy Awards received seven nominations, including Best Picture. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." [2] [3] [4]


Jane Craig is a talented but intense news producer whose life revolves around her work. She is passionate about reporting, and abhors the trend towards soft news in news broadcasts. Her best friend and collaborator, Aaron Altman, is a gifted writer and reporter, but is lacking in many social skills. The two work in the Washington, D.C. bureau of a national TV network. The bureau hires Tom Grunick, a local news anchorman who started his career in sports. Tom is tall, handsome, likable, and telegenic, but lacks news experience and isn't especially bright. He constantly seeks help from Jane to assist him with his reporting, who resents his lack of qualifications, but finds herself attracted to him. Tom is also attracted to Jane, but is intimidated by her skills and intensity.

Aaron and Jane go to Nicaragua to report on the Sandinista rebels there and get caught up in a shooting battle between them and the contras but remain unscathed and bring home footage that wins the approval of their national anchorman. At an office party, news arrives of a Libyan plane having bombed a U.S. military base in Italy. The network chief decides to put on a special report on the spot, with Tom as anchor and Jane as executive producer. Aaron, who is at the party and has extensive knowledge about the subject, is devastated at Tom's selection. Jane argues that Tom lacks the skills to handle the responsibility of the report, but is overruled by the network chief. Watching from his home, Aaron calls Jane with pertinent information, which she feeds to Tom through his earpiece. With the combination of Tom's on-camera poise and Jane's hard news skills, the report is a great success. Their teamwork also intensifies their mutual attraction. When Jane returns for drinks with colleagues later in the evening, she meets Tom as he is leaving with co-worker Jennifer. Jane later selects Jennifer for an extended assignment in Alaska so that Tom and Jennifer will not be able to pursue a relationship with each other.

Wanting to complete a story without outside assistance, Tom creates a piece on date rape; the piece includes an extended interview with a rape victim, where Tom is shown tearing up in reaction to her story. Aaron and Jane are unimpressed with the story, but Jane finds it affecting nonetheless. In the face of potential layoffs, Aaron receives an opportunity to anchor the weekend news due to most of his colleagues going to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He seeks advice from Tom, who encourages Aaron to be more salesman-like in his approach. Aaron writes high-quality copy and takes Tom's advice, but during the broadcast begins sweating uncontrollably, resulting in a disastrous broadcast. Meanwhile, Jane and Tom begin to progress romantically at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But before things get more involved, Jane leaves to console Aaron. The two have a heated argument, where Aaron tells Jane that Tom represents everything Jane hates about the direction of news media. Aaron also tells Jane that he is in love with her.

The forewarned layoffs hit the network, resulting in many colleagues losing their jobs. Tom is moved to the London office, indicating that he is being groomed for a national anchor position; Jane is promoted to bureau chief. Tom and Jane agree to take a romantic getaway together before starting their new jobs. Aaron tenders his resignation and tells Jane he plans to take a job at a local television station in Portland, Oregon. Before he leaves, he tells Jane that Tom's tears during his date rape piece were staged; reviewing the footage, Jane realizes that Aaron is correct. Jane angrily confronts him at the airport, saying that his actions were a breach of journalistic ethics and that she cannot in good conscience become personally involved with him. Tom argues with her, but eventually relents, leaving Jane behind.

The three meet again seven years later. Tom has taken over as national anchorman, Aaron has a wife and child, and Jane has a new boyfriend. Jane reveals she plans to take a managing editor role for the network in New York, working with Tom again. Tom leaves after Jane declines a dinner invitation with him and his fiancée, while she and Aaron sit on a bench and catch up on their respective lives.



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 character of Jane Craig was based on journalist and news producer Susan Zirinsky. She served as associate producer and technical advisor for the film. [5] The female lead was originally written for Debra Winger, who worked with James L. Brooks in Terms of Endearment . However, Winger became pregnant and was replaced by Holly Hunter just two days before filming began. Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest, Jessica Lange, Elizabeth Perkins, and Mary Beth Hurt were also considered for the role. [6] Brooks originally wrote the role of Aaron Altman specifically for his longtime friend Albert Brooks in mind. Principal photography began in Washington, D.C. in February 2, 1986, officially wrapping in April 1987 after filming several scenes in Florida. [7]


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. [8] It went into wide release in the United States 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. [9]

Critical response

Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times 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". [10] 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". [11] 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". [12]

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". [13] 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". [14] The magazine also ranked Broadcast News as one of the best films of the year. [15] The film garnered a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 52 critics. The site's consensus states: "Blockbuster dramatist James L. Brooks delivers with Broadcast News, fully entertaining with deft, deep characterization." [16] The film has an 84/100 average score at Metacritic, based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". [17]

Broadcast News was placed on 61 "ten-best" lists, making it the most acclaimed film of 1987. [18]


Academy Awards [19] Best Picture James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actor William Hurt Nominated
Best Actress Holly Hunter Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks Nominated
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen James L. BrooksNominated
Best Cinematography Michael Ballhaus Nominated
Best Film Editing Richard Marks Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Nominated
American Comedy Awards Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)Holly HunterNominated
Funniest Supporting Male Performer – Motion Picture or TVAlbert BrooksWon
Artios Awards [20] Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Casting – Comedy Ellen Chenoweth Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival [21] Golden Bear James L. BrooksNominated
Best Actress Holly HunterWon
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards [22] Best Actor Albert BrooksWon
Best Actress Holly HunterWon
Best Screenplay James L. BrooksWon
Directors Guild of America Awards [23] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures James L. BrooksNominated
Faro Island Film FestivalBest FilmNominated
Best ActorWilliam HurtWon
Golden Globe Awards [24] Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy William HurtNominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Holly HunterNominated
Best Director – Motion Picture James L. BrooksNominated
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards [25] Best Director Nominated
Best Actress Holly HunterWon [lower-alpha 1]
National Board of Review Awards [26] Top Ten Films 3rd Place
Best Actress Holly HunterWon [lower-alpha 2]
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
National Society of Film Critics Awards [27] Best Actor Albert Brooks2nd Place
Best Actress Holly Hunter3rd Place
Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks3rd Place
New York Film Critics Circle Awards [28] Best Film Won
Best Director James L. BrooksWon
Best Actor William HurtNominated
Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress Holly HunterWon
Best Screenplay James L. BrooksWon
Writers Guild of America Awards [29] Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Nominated

Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

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 documentary on Brooks's career in television and film, an alternative ending and deleted scenes with commentary by Brooks, an interview with veteran CBS news producer Susan Zirinsky, 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. [34]

Related Research Articles

<i>It Happened One Night</i> 1934 film by Frank Capra

It Happened One Night is a 1934 pre-Code American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed and co-produced by Frank Capra, in collaboration with Harry Cohn, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's thumb and falls in love with a roguish reporter. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is based on the August 1933 short story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams, which provided the shooting title. Classified as a "pre-Code" production, the film is among the last romantic comedies created before the MPPDA began rigidly enforcing the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code in July 1934. It Happened One Night was released just four months prior to that enforcement.

<i>The Manchurian Candidate</i> (1962 film) 1962 American psychological political thriller film

The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American neo-noir psychological political thriller film directed and produced by John Frankenheimer. The screenplay is by George Axelrod, based on the 1959 Richard Condon novel The Manchurian Candidate. The film's leading actors are Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Angela Lansbury, with co-stars Janet Leigh, Henry Silva, and James Gregory.

<i>Badlands</i> (film) 1973 American film by Terrence Malick

Badlands is a 1973 American neo-noir period crime drama film written, produced and directed by Terrence Malick, in his directorial debut. The film stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, and follows Holly Sargis (Spacek), a 15-year old who goes on a killing spree with her partner, Kit Carruther (Sheen); the film also stars Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri. While the story is fictional, it is loosely based on the real-life murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, in 1958.

<i>Moonstruck</i> 1987 film by Norman Jewison

Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy-drama film directed and co-produced by Norman Jewison, written by John Patrick Shanley, and starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Olympia Dukakis, and Vincent Gardenia. The film follows Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé's hot-tempered, estranged younger brother.

<i>The Piano</i> 1993 romantic drama film directed by Jane Campion

The Piano is a 1993 period drama film written and directed by Jane Campion. Starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin in her first major acting role, the film focuses on a mute Scottish woman who travels to a remote part of New Zealand with her young daughter after her arranged marriage to a frontiersman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Janusz Kamiński</span> Polish-born American cinematographer, film and television director

Janusz Zygmunt Kamiński is a Polish cinematographer and director of film and television. He has established a partnership with Steven Spielberg, working as a cinematographer on his films since 1993. He won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Spielberg's holocaust drama Schindler's List and World War II epic Saving Private Ryan (1998). He has also received Academy Award nominations for Amistad (1997), The Diving Bell & the Butterfly (2007) War Horse (2011), Lincoln (2012), and West Side Story (2021). He has also received five British Academy Film Award nominations, and six American Society of Cinematographers Award nominations.

<i>Young Frankenstein</i> 1974 film

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder. Wilder also starred in the lead role as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Peter Boyle portrayed the monster. The film co-stars Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman.

<i>Primal Fear</i> (film) 1996 film directed by Gregory Hoblit

Primal Fear is a 1996 American legal thriller film directed by Gregory Hoblit, and written by Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman, based on William Diehl's 1993 novel of the same name. The film stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton in his film debut. It revolves around a Chicago defense attorney who believes that his altar boy client is not guilty of murdering an influential Catholic archbishop.

<i>A History of Violence</i> 2005 film by David Cronenberg

A History of Violence is a 2005 action thriller film directed by David Cronenberg and written by Josh Olson. It is an adaptation of the 1997 graphic novel of the same title by John Wagner and Vince Locke. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, and Ed Harris. The film was in the main competition for the 2005 Palme d'Or. The film was put into limited release in the United States on September 23, 2005, and wide release on September 30, 2005.

<i>The Big Easy</i> (film) 1987 film by Jim McBride

The Big Easy is a 1986 American neo-noir romantic thriller film directed by Jim McBride and written by Daniel Petrie Jr. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, and Ned Beatty. The film was both set and shot on location in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sheldon Turner is a screenwriter and producer. His produced credits as a screenwriter include The Longest Yard (2005), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), Up in the Air (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011). He is an alum of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

<i>All the Presidents Men</i> (film) 1976 film by Alan J. Pakula

All the President's Men is a 1976 American biographical political drama-thriller film about the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. Directed by Alan J. Pakula with a screenplay by William Goldman, it is based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.

<i>The Grapes of Wrath</i> (film) 1940 film by John Ford

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 American drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally Johnson and the executive producer was Darryl F. Zanuck.

The 8th Boston Society of Film Critics Awards honored the best filmmaking of 1987. The awards were given on 10 January 1988.

The 53rd New York Film Critics Circle Awards honored the best filmmaking of 1987. The winners were announced on 17 December 1987 and the awards were given on 24 January 1988.

<i>M*A*S*H</i> (film) 1970 American satirical black comedy war film

M*A*S*H is a 1970 American black comedy war film directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner Jr., based on Richard Hooker's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The picture is the only theatrically released feature film in the M*A*S*H franchise, and it became one of the biggest films of the early 1970s for 20th Century Fox.

Susan Zirinsky American journalist and television news producer

Susan Zirinsky is an American journalist and television news producer. She served as the President of CBS News from January 2019 until April 2021, when she was succeeded by Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon. She previously served as executive producer of 48 Hours from 1996 to 2019. In 2003, she won a Primetime Emmy Award as producer of the documentary 9/11, which aired on CBS in 2002.


  1. Box Office Information for Broadcast News. The Wrap . Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. "'Jurassic Park,' 'The Shining,' And 23 Other Movies Added To National Film Registry". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  3. "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  4. "National Film Registry Turns 30". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. "Susan Zirinsky", American University
  6. Worrell, Denise (December 21, 1987). "Holly Hunter Takes Hollywood". Time . Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  7. "AFI Catalog - Broadcast News (1987)". American Film Institute . Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  8. "Weekend Box Office : Appealing to All 'Generations'". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  9. "Broadcast News". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  10. Ebert, Roger (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  11. Canby, Vincent (December 16, 1987). "Broadcast News". The New York Times . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  12. Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1987). "Broadcast News". Chicago Reader . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  13. Hinson, Hal (December 25, 1987). "Broadcast News". The Washington Post . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  14. Corliss, Richard (December 14, 1987). "A Season Of Flash And Greed". Time . Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  15. "Best of '87". Time . January 4, 1988. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  16. "Broadcast News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  17. "Broadcast News Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  18. "Film Critics Agree: 1987 Was a Good, Bad Year". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1988.
  19. "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  20. "Nominees/Winners". Casting Society of America . Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  21. "Berlinale: 1988 Prize Winners". Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
  22. "BSFC Winners: 1980s". Boston Society of Film Critics . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  23. "40th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  24. "Broadcast News – Golden Globes". HFPA . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  25. "The 13th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  26. "1987 Award Winners". National Board of Review . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  27. "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  28. "1987 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". Mubi . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  29. "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  30. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  31. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute . Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  32. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  33. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  34. "Broadcast News". The Criterion Collection.