MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who is rarely at a loss for words, probably had some choice ones reserved for his bosses at the network after they refused to approve a cameo by the liberal anchor in a new HBO pilot for the latest Aaron Sorkin project, “More as this Story Develops.”
New York magazine’s Joe Adalian reports that Sorkin followed Matthews around while doing research for his show which is about cable news, and was planning on having Matthews participate in a roundtable discussion scene with conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Adalian finds the decision by MSNBC curious considering the history of cable newsers appearing in movies or on other television programs:
It’s not like MSNBC has a blanket no-scripted-programming order for their anchors: Matthews played an MSNBC reporter two years ago in the Russell Crowe pic State of Play. And a guest spot on Sorkin’s show would likely be good for publicity; assuming it goes to series, Develops will likely boast an audience filled with the sort of left-leaning smarties targeted by the news-and-opinion network. So what was the problem? Our spy speculates that even though Sorkin’s ideology meshes with MSNBC’s, the network’s brass may have taken issue with the way More portrays the world of cable news and its corporate culture. In the pilot script we’ve seen, it’s a land of egomaniacs working for wealthy drunks. (UPDATE: Our source has further elaborated to us that MSNBC also didn’t like the fact that parts of the show seemed to be skewering left-leaning media.)
Interestingly, the lead character (to be played by Jeff Daniels) is a passionate, liberal Keith Olbermann–esque character who comes off as a jerk. Since Olbermann left MSNBC on bad terms (and, in his press rounds for his new Current TV show, missed few opportunities to take shots at his old home), you’d think execs would welcome the chance to have Matthews be part of a show that tweaks him back. We asked reps for MSNBC and Matthews, but they had no comment. HBO also declined comment, noting More is still in the pilot stages and that neither Matthews nor Breitbart have ever been confirmed as cast in the project.
MSNBC may be a little too sensitive here and they are surely missing an opportunity to promote the network. After all it’s only a cameo and it doesn’t necessarily reflect an endorsement of the program. Contrast that to Fox News which had no such reservations about Bill O’Reilly’s cameo on the latest Transformers movie Dark of the Moon, which isn’t exactly geared to O’Reilly’s core audience but does give him and the network additional exposure.
With or without the cameo Matthews will go yapping along to his liberal fans, but MSNBC may have missed an opportunity to remind the public that they exist.