There have been quite a few movies over the years that attempt to take the audience behind the scenes of the news world. From relatively recent entries such as Broadcast News and Network to classics of the old school of journalism such as The Front Page (and its classic remake His Girl Friday) we are often presented with an interesting, though of course, highly fictionalized version of what goes on to make the newspapers, radio and TV that we all then enjoy. And those movies overlook the dozens where a character being a journalist is just one part of the story and not the entire focus of the movie.
Entering the sub-genre of newsroom movies is Morning Glory. The movie tells the story of a young up-and-coming TV producer (Rachel McAdams) who is hired to take charge of a morning news and talk show like “The Today Show.” She inherits one anchor (Diane Keaton) and brings aboard another, a grizzled serious news man (Harrison Ford) who sees entertainment and lifestyle pieces as being beneath him. She’s tasked with turning the sinking ship around but comes up against a variety of obstacles not the least of which is the disbelief of her co-workers that she can succeed. But she keeps fighting and finds that doing a job well isn’t important if you don’t have someone to share that with.
The first posters to be released for the movie were a series of three character-centric one-sheets, one each for McAdams, Keaton and Ford. Each one features a black and white photo of the character in what’s supposed to be, one would assume a pose that is designed to highlight their character. So Ford looks cocky and suave, Keaton looks bouncy and happy and McAdams looks a bit pensive as she sips her mug of coffee. Over the photo is the “‘What’s the Story?’ Morning Glory” combination of the tagline and title.
The theatrical one-sheet basically takes those three images and mashes them together, only in this case the photo of McAdams has the coffee cup a little bit lower so we can see her entire face. The copy is also toned down a bit so that it’s not covering the entire image and drops the “What’s the story” bit in favor of something a little more conventional, “Breakfast TV just got interesting.”
The trailer might have been the very definition of “charming” and sets up the movie quite well, cutting an attractive picture for the audience.
We first meet McAdams’ character as she’s being asked by her mother, presumably, about her job prospects. Shortly after that she gets a job producing a local morning news/talk show, a job that she’s assured will come with all sorts of headaches and problems, not to mention a low salary. One of her first acts is to recruit a grizzled old newsman, Ford, who immediately begins sparring with his co-host Keaton, looking down his nose at the soft news they handle on the program and her attitude toward reporting it. But it winds up being his combative and negative attitude that winds up causing her to begin truly effecting some changes on the show as well as in her personal life, which we’re shown is a mess due largely to her concentrating only on work. Wilson, who plays her co-worker, is thrown in as a love interest and is likely tied to that personal revelation as well.
Despite of it’s overly slick manner, the trailer works because you’ve got a bunch of veterans and very good actors doing what they do in a very natural way. Ford rarely seems this relaxed on screen and plays his misanthropic veteran well. Keaton is always good and it should be fun to watch her and Ford recreate select scenes from Anchorman. McAdams glides through the frame looking cute as a button but also believably playing, at least based on this, someone who’s trying to make their way in a new job. It just comes off as very believable, which is actually quite tough for a movie like this, both from a subject matter and a star-laden cast point of view.
The movie’s official website opens by playing one of the TV spots in a video player window on the page. Below that are a rotating series of quotes from early reviews of the movie and above that are links to iTunes that take you to where you can buy a couple new songs that are featured in the movie.
“About the Film” has a good Synopsis as well as Cast and Crew, which have some of the best and more extensive bios and histories I’ve seen recently, and a pretty well put together set of Production Notes that primarily goes over the casting of each role.
“Videos” has the Trailer, a couple of TV Spots, a Featurette as well as a collection of seven extended Film Clips. After each video plays you get the option of sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, email or by embedding the video elsewhere.
There are about 15 stills from the film in the “Photos” section.
Finally, “What’s Your Story” is a contest where you can submit a video explaining why you’re a star to win a trip to New York City and a tour of a morning TV set.
The Facebook page for the film brings in much of that video and photo content as well as occasional updates on the star’s promotion and publicity efforts.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A series of three TV spots all hit similar notes, presenting the movie as the story of McAdams’ character striking out on her own and having it all in a very empowering way – She gets the dream job and overcomes her co-workers’ skepticism, she gets the guy (at least one of the spots presents it as “her first true love”) and so it’s very much the ideal life that is being sold. Ford gets a couple good lines as does Keaton, but it’s clear that this is McAdams’ movie based on these commercials.
While a couple companies are listed on the official website, the one true promotional partner is Emergen-C, makers of an energy and vitamin drink, who ran a contest asking people to upload videos of them hosting their own morning news to try and win a trip to New York City.
Media and Publicity
A few weeks prior to release there was some buzz that began around the notion that this was going to be McAdams’ breakout performance, something she’s lacked despite being very good in a number of decent and well-liked movies. That sort of culminated in a New York Times story (10/31/10) to that effect and which included praise from some of her co-stars.
I said above that the trailer on its own was exceedingly charming, with a light and bouncy attitude but also the promise of some really fine performances, especially from McAdams and Ford. The rest of the campaign continues that same sort of attitude and feeling, assuring the audience that there’s an uplifting and empowering story here but also promising something that might be a little more interesting for those that are looking for it.
I really am struck at how the campaign doesn’t completely give in to the impulse that must have been felt to excise everything that wasn’t about the romance between McAdams and Wilson since that would have been a very easy angle to take in selling the movie to the public. Instead that element feels very much like a sub-plot that is just part of the overall story of how the main character proves herself and doesn’t give up on the success she wants. So it earns points in my book for that. It also gets some credit for showing off Ford and his grizzled anchor shtick, which looks like it might be worth the price of admission in and of itself.