Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Broadcast News (1987)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Broadcast News (1987)

In James L. Brooks' romantic comedy/satire of TV news:

  • the ironic prologue illustrated the formative childhoods of a trio of future broadcast news professionals - the two male TV reporters would become romantic rivals for the love of the female producer at the same news network in Washington DC:
    • young Tom Grunick (Kimber Shoop) spoke to his father Gerald Grunick (Stephen Mendillo) in 1963 about his good looks: "What can you do with yourself when all you can do is look good"
    • in the future, Tom Grunick (William Hurt) turned out to be a handsome, airhead, narcisistic, charismatic, and slightly dumb news anchor
    • young Aaron (Dwayne Markee) was 15 at his high school graduation in 1965, and beaten up afterwards by older upperclassmen; he tried to insult the bullies assaulting him: "Go ahead Steven. Take your last licks! But this will heal! What I'm going to say can never be erased! It'll scar you forever! Ready? Here it is. You'll never make more than $19,000 a year!"
    • in the future, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) turned out to be a socially-insecure, serious, uncharismatic, and gifted intelligent network news reporter
    • young Jane (Gennie James) was engaged in a wordy argumentative discussion with her father (Leo Burmester) over the word 'obsessive' in 1968: ("Dad, you want me to choose my words so carefully, then you throw a word like 'obsessive' at me. Now, unless I'm wrong, please correct me if I am. But obsession is practically a psychiatric term concerning people who don't have anything else but the object of their own obsession, who can't stop and do anything else. Well, here I am stopping to tell you this, OK, so would you please try and be a little bit more precise instead of calling a person something like 'obsessive'? Good night")
    • in the future in 1981, Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) turned out to be a fussy, driven, intense, forthright and strident network news producer
Young Future Professionals

Tom Grunick

Aaron Altman

Jane Craig
  • wacky news assistant director Blair Litton (Joan Cusack) painfully rushed to get a finished tape to the control booth in time for broadcast - running into a garbage can and a file cart, slipping on papers under an opened file drawer, jumping over a toddler and her mother, and slamming into a hallway water fountain
  • in one of the film's key scenes, during a special live news report on a Libyan attack on a US military base in Sicily (Italy), Tom was clueless and unable to function on-camera; with the assistance of highly-qualified but nervous Aaron, the quick-thinking Jane cleverly fed Tom information via his earpiece; afterwards, the exhilarated Tom gleefully responded with thanks to Jane at her desk: ("You're an amazing woman. What a feeling having you inside my head... It's like indescribable -- you knew just when to feed me the next line, you knew the second before I needed it. There was like a rhythm we got into... it was like great sex!"); over time, Jane was becoming infatuated with Tom
  • in an apres-sex scene with the handsome but vacuous and nude Tom, reporter Jennifer Mack (Lois Chiles) playfully asked about his prominent penis shadow in silhouette after sleeping with him, as she laughed: "Do you do bunny rabbits?"; earlier, he had told her about her open clothes closet: "You can see everything you have"
  • in his debut appearance as the anchor of the weekend news, the uncharismatic and nervous Aaron began to sweat profusely ("flop sweat"), and a producer commented: "This is more than Nixon ever sweated"; Aaron gave an aside as the news went to a commercial after he reported: " least 22 people dead" - "I wish I were one of them"
  • after Jane and Tom attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner together, they left the party to share a romantic moment on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial; they embraced and passionately kissed when he suggested sex to her in obvious terms: "I've been wondering what it'd be like to be inside all that energy"; to cool their passion, Jane excused herself to go and console Aaron for his disastrous TV debut
The Jealous Aaron to Jane: Comparing Tom to the Devil
  • Aaron, who was in unrequited love with Jane, met with Jane after his disastrous weekend news appearance and made a desperate attempt to dissuade Jane from a relationship with the media-friendly Tom by comparing him to the devil, and by admitting his own love for her: "Tom, while being a very nice guy, is the devil...I'm semi-serious here...He will be attractive, he'll be nice and helpful...He'll never do an evil thing. He'll never deliberately hurt a living thing. He'll just bit by little bit lower our standards where they're important. Just a tiny little bit. Just coax along. Flash over substance...And he'll get all the great women"; Jane accused Aaron of being the devil, but he countered that her assertion was impossible: ("You know I'm not...Because I think we have the kind of friendship where if I were the Devil, you'd be the only one I would tell...Give me this. He personifies everything you've been fighting against - And I'm in love with you. How do ya like that? I buried the lead")
  • as a result of the TV news station's restructuring and multiple layoffs, Jane was appointed as the replacement for bureau chief Ernie Merriman (Robert Prosky), and Tom was promoted to work in the network office in London, while the dejected-feeling Aaron resigned to take a local anchor position in Portland, Oregon; during Tom's transition period, he and Jane planned to take a romantic getaway vacation together
  • before leaving, Jane met up with the embittered Aaron in a difficult farewell scene, when he made a sour-grapes prediction of Jane's future when she asked what would happen to their relationship as friends: "Anyway, I'll be walking along with my wife and my two lovely children and we'll bump into you. And my youngest son will say something, and I will tell him it's not nice to make fun of single, fat ladies"

Aaron's Prediction of Jane's Future

Tom's Faked Tears - On Cue

Jane's Airport Rejection of Tom For His Fakery
  • Jane felt tremendous anguish and anger when Aaron informed her that Tom had unethically faked tears in a cutaway shot during an earlier date-rape interview; Jane confronted Tom at the airport - "It made me...ILL...You can get fired for things like that...(Tom's retort: "I've gotten promoted for things like that!") You totally crossed the line"; she told him that they were so mismatched that she would not join him for a vacation during her time-off
  • in the film's poignant epilogue set in the present day of 1987 about seven years later, the trio reunited at a broadcasting conference; both men were happily married with others (and Jane was in a strong relationship); Jane revealed that she would again be working alongside national anchor Tom in New York as a managing editor; the film concluded with a pull-back shot of Jane and Aaron reminiscing in the rain under a gazebo

News Assistant Blair Running with Videotape - Water Cooler Collision

After Tom Was Fed Information By Jane During a Live Broadcast, he told her: "It was like great sex!"

Work Colleague Jennifer Mack (Lois Chiles) - "Do you do bunny rabbits?"

Tom's Penis Shadow

Aaron's Profuse Sweating: "This is More than Nixon Ever Sweated"

Tom and Jane's Passionate Kiss Outdoors

Film's Ending: Jane and Aaron in Gazebo


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