Laura Bennett

Staff Writer

A close read of the narrative uses of the RNC's many, many screens.

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Why do we still care about the timeline of late-night TV programming?

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Why Oprah’s interview with Rihanna was a surprisingly nuanced look at domestic abuse.

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Wesley Clark wanted to be commander-in-chief. How the hero of NATO wound up becoming commander of B-list reality-TV celebrities instead.

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Parker Posey’s guest appearance on the season premiere of “New Girl”—announced earlier this week—will mark the first time that Posey, “indie queen” of the ’90s, has shared a screen with Zooey Deschanel, indie queen of the millennial set. Time magazine gave Posey the title in 1997, after she starred in a string of low-budget independent films such as Party Girl and Dazed and Confused. And Deschanel, in the past few years, has been similarly anointed by outlets from New York magazine’s Vulture blog to NPR. What makes an indie queen?

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From the moment we meet news anchor Will McAvoy in the opening scene of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” there are signs that a Sorkin monologue is brewing: a flicker of anger in the eyes, a twitch of facial muscles, a cloud of moral indignation settling in. McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is sitting on a panel at Northwestern, and two talking heads are firing partisan flak at each other from the chairs to his left and his right.

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It has been widely acknowledged that HBO’s “Girls” features what is likely the worst sex ever seen on the small screen—or, at least, the worst sex with a female mind at its emotional center. This is fumbling, incompetent sex, performed on a dirty couch in yellowish lighting and filmed from unforgiving angles. Hannah, the character played by Lena Dunham, who is also the show’s creator, gets mounted from behind by her terrible not-quite-boyfriend, Adam.

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Anderson Cooper the daytime talk show host does not look all that different from Anderson Cooper the disaster reporter. He is still boyish, still earnest, still reliably clad in a button-down that accentuates the blue of those sympathetic eyes. Yet much of the new show’s media coverage has harped on the apparent contradiction between the two Coopers: windblown Anderson in a flak jacket vs. spruced-up Anderson ministering to celebrities on his talk show couch. “Anderson Cooper offers another version of himself on talk show ‘Anderson,’” announced The Washington Post online.

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Richard North Patterson remembers the moment he learned that Osama bin Laden was dead. He was watching television on a Sunday evening two days before the publication of his latest novel, The Devil’s Light, in which Al Qaeda plans a nuclear attack on America for the decade anniversary of 9/11. Wolf Blitzer, grave-faced, said something about a major national security announcement. And immediately, Patterson knew. “I sat there like a man in a catatonic state,” he recalled.

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Neurosis and comedy make a natural pair—Woody Allen and Larry David being perfect examples of this phenomenon. Tina Fey may seem like an odd addition

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