View Full Version : News anchors and pundits doing cameos in fiction

Manuel Royal
03-19-2014, 11:46 PM
What happens is this: in a movie or tv show, the events our characters are involved in have become news stories. They want to show a news anchor or pundit commenting on what's happening. Fine -- but, often, we see actual news people, playing themselves, commenting on the fictional events.

This has always bothered me; in fact, I hate it.

It's nothing new; been going on at least half a century. (Howard K. Smith appeared as himself in the 1964 movie The Best Man, commenting on a fictional political convention.) It's in my mind now because I've been watching House of Cards, in which well-known talking heads of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, playing themselves, talk about the imaginary politicians and events in the show.

How can they? Rachel Maddow -- I expect this kind of shit from Sean Hannity, but you? How am I supposed to take any of these people seriously when they're talking about actual news, after seeing them talk about imaginary events with the same level of conviction?

And don't they mind being handed lines to read, lines that might not be what they'd really say (or ask, if doing an interview) in that situation?

I can't help thinking, a real news person, a self-respecting journalist, shouldn't be doing this. Does this bug anyone else?

03-20-2014, 08:17 AM
I don't see a problem with this, personally, so long as it's in the context of a movie/TV show (and not one of those faked-for-publicity "real" newscasts.) It adds a degree of verisimilitude that you can't get with a made-up "Joe Doe" newscaster. They did some great ones in the movie Dave; in one bit, Oliver Stone was on the Larry King show insisting that there was a phony in the White House, and King was clearly exasperated with the man's wild conspiracy theory (which was actually true, in the context of the movie.) It wouldn't have been nearly as amusing with a fake director talking to a fake reporter.

When you think about it, what they're doing is a form of acting. They're given copy to read (or a teleprompter to follow), and they're expected to control their reactions and emotions so they can clearly convey information to the camera and viewing public without coloring it with their own opinions. Even op-ed reporters work from a script, whether they write it themselves or not. Debates and interviews demand some improv work, but they're still conveying a particular position, or working to extract specific information; I think most interviews and debates have some rough structure to them anyway, and are rarely completely spontaneous. The person they are in front of the cameras is often not the person they are behind the scenes or at home; even if they're "authentic," they dial it up a few notches for the public.

Reporters are like anyone else; they have a life beyond their job. They can't be expected to be Mister Newscaster 24/7. So, if they want to do a cameo for fun - or, being human, for a little extra money - why can't they?

03-20-2014, 08:32 AM
I don't mind it at all. I was also quite entertained by seeing Patrick Moore, Brian Cox and Richard Dawkins on episodes of "Doctor Who". Even though they were talking absolute tosh in those cameos, I don't find it at all difficult to separate that work from their scientific presentations.

Manuel Royal
03-20-2014, 05:08 PM
What really surpises me is when a self-appointed spokesman for some cause is willing to do a cameo -- as himself -- in which he's wrong and an asshole. Al Sharpton, for instance -- he appeared as himself in an episode of Rescue Me, accusing (fictional) firefighters of being racists, in a situation in which the viewer knew he was both mistaken and committing slander. (Possibly Al Sharpton just won't turn down anything that involves a camera being pointed at him.)

03-20-2014, 06:40 PM
...(Possibly Al Sharpton just won't turn down anything that involves a camera being pointed at him.)