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, whose THR coverage appears both in print and online, is one of the film industry's most experienced and trusted awards analysts, and possesses one of the strongest track records at forecasting the Oscars. His best showings came in 2006 (when he called 21 of 24 winners) and 2004 (when he called 20 of 24 winners); he was also the only pundit to project long-shot best picture nominations for The Reader (2008), The Blind Side (2009) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). An alumnus of Brandeis University, he previously ran "The Feinberg Files" blog for the Los Angeles Times. He is now a voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, and is writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 350 high-profile Hollywood figures.
Gregg contributes awards news, features online, and "The Race" column in print.
Tim contributes awards news and features, both in print and online.