Aaron Sorkin Denies ‘Newsroom’ Firings, Sexism

And no, he says, his ex-girlfriend is not on the writing staff

Aaron Sorkin denied during a panel for "The Newsroom" that he has fired the show's writing staff, and denied that the women on his show are less intellectually formidable than the men.

Also, he says, he does not have an ex-girlfriend among his writers.

Sorkin faced a roomful of TV critics at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, many of whom have criticized his new HBO series. He quickly found himself responding to complaints that the women on the show, especially Emily Mortimer's Mackenzie MacHale, come off as ditzy compared to the men.

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Sorkin said all of his characters are flawed, including the women. MacHale, for example, is portrayed as extremely qualified, and to be the key person in sparking improvements to the newsroom. But she also makes silly mistakes, like sending a very personal email to the entire staff.

Once he's established a character's fundamental intelligence, Sorkin says, "You can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want. That's just comedy."

Sorkin then said he wanted to shoot down an "unsourced and untrue story on the Internet" — it was first reported by The Daily and picked up by TheWrap and other outlets — that he was firing much of his writing staff. The Daily reported that the only returning writer would be Corinne Kingsbury, who the online newspaper identified as his ex-girlfriend.

No, no, no, said Sorkin.

"The writing staff is not fired. And just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff. They're acting very strange. They're coming to work early, they're being polite to me. … I love the writing staff."

He said only a "couple of staff changes were made," including promoting two writers' assistants, Dana Ledoux Miller and Michael Gund, to story editors.

He also said Kingsbury was not his ex-girlfriend.

"I think she's at the beginning of a very exciting career and I would hate for this rumor or implication that she somehow got where she was for any reason other than merit to have to follow her around for the rest of her life," he said.

Sorkin said the show was making another change: adding paid consultants to its staff. But he said he wouldn't identify them until their deals are complete.