Oscar Boost: Aaron Sorkin is Satirized on 'The Good Wife,' '30 Rock'
Oscar favorite Aaron Sorkin used to be a bit prickly about criticism, but now he gets it: When they make fun of you, they make you a star.
The Social Network writer, likely to win the best adapted screenplay Oscar, just got caricatured in this week's Social Network takeoff episode of the Emmy and Globe-winning The Good Wife. "It's hard not to see this all as mutual back-scratching (or clawing)," says New York Film Critics Circle chairman John Anderson, "a la Law & Order: The 'ripped from the headlines' strategy [is] a way of being Zeitgeisty and hip without breaking a creative sweat."
But it's more than that. It shows how jokily self-referential pop culture has become. As Ken Tucker notes, the actor questioning the Sorkin character is Josh Charles, a costar of Sorkin's SportsNight. Sorkin's new HBO pilot, once called More as the Story Develops, is sort of a combination of his West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, about a Keith Olbermann-like TV host.
Not only hasn't Sorkin struck back at his Good Wife satirists, he's joining his much more dedicated satirists by guest starring on a March or April episode of 30 Rock -- the Tina Fey show that crushed his similarly-themed Studio 60 and loves to razz Sorkin. Maybe he's realized that when he attacked Sarah Palin on The Huffington Post, straightforwardly calling her "deranged" and "you witless bully," it accomplished nothing. When Fey razzed Palin using Palin's own words, she may have prevented her election.
More important, getting roasted is the mark of modern success. Mark Zuckerberg, who initially criticized the film, realized this and appeared on SNL with his dazzlingly inaccurate doppelganger Jesse Eisenberg. Black Swan, which cracked $100 million domestically on Feb. 16 (and $173 million worldwide), showed the first sign of its brilliant future when hipsters dressed up as Natalie Portman's mad dancer at Halloween, before the film even came out. But it only truly broke out when Jim Carrey parodied her on SNL in January.
Maybe getting ribbed still secretly annoys Sorkin. But in our culture you're nobody 'til somebody skewers you.
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.