There's something about Chicago that lends itself to movies and TV shows about newspaper reporters. From "Call NORthside 777" to "His Girl Friday/The Front Page" and "Never Been Kissed," to the laughable "My Boys" to the Canadian-made "Early Edition," it seems that whenever Hollywood makes a picture or show involving reporters, chances are it'll be set in Chicago (the exceptions being "Lou Grant" and the final season of "The Wire," but "The Wire" was already set in Baltimore). It could be the city's legacy of hard-nosed reporting, stemming from the time when there were a dozen or so daily papers and the assembly line of great reporters turned out by the City News Bureau of Chicago (I was one of the last ones there, from the Class of '99).
The latest addition to this list is a CBS pilot called "The Tower." I don't know if it will be set at a tabloid or a broadsheet, but with a name like "The Tower," it seems it may be set in some imposing ivory structure more fit for a "Lord of the Rings" movie than a gritty urban newspaper.
According to a couple accounts [zaptoit, afterelton], the show "focuses on a group of reporters who try to solve the crimes they're supposed to be investigating." Um, where'd the police go? Isn't that their job? Anyway, CCH Pounder plays the paper's editor, Cole Hauser is a crime reporter, and Denis (one N) O'Hare will also play an editor. O'Hare was in "Michael Clayton" and won a Tony for the show "Take Me Out."
Of course I'll watch the show (hell, I even watched one episode of "The Boys") but I don't know if the show will resonate with people under 40, since they may have to explain what a "newspaper" is. But then again it will be on CBS. And instead of a plot device like "crime reporters who solve crimes," why can't they just present a drama about reporters and what they deal with day to day (and of course what happens outside the newsroom), just like when you have a cop show? I guess it takes an ex-reporter, like "The Wire's" creators, to realize you don't need these phony devices to make the story interesting.
And I worry about the precedent this show will set. Not only have newspaper reporters, in recent years, been expected to report, write, edit and analyze the news, they've also been asked to start taking photos, blog for the company, "do more with less," and now they'll be expected to solve crimes. Sheesh.
(The picture accompanying this post is of Kyle Chandler, star of "Early Edition." In that series, he was a guy who lived in a rough around the edges loft who found a copy of the next day's Chicago Sun-Times outside his door each morning. The paper was left there by a cat. hey, don't ask me; I didn't write the show. Anyway, each day the paper had some story about a terrible event that had befallen someone and Kyle had 24 hours from the time he picked up that copy of the Sun-Times to try to prevent the terrible thing from happening. Gosh, I miss that show.)