Aaron Sorkin

Active - 1992 - 2020  |   Born - Jun 9, 1961 in New York, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy Drama

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Despite being a writer whose impressive list of credits boasts The West Wing, the show considered by many viewers and critics to be the best American television series of the early millennium, Aaron Sorkin would be the first to admit the paralyzing fear that greets him every time he starts a new script. Though at first things may be slow going for the Emmy winner, once he gets going and the dialogue starts flowing, there's almost literally no stopping him. A New York native who graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Theater, Sorkin's initial bid for onscreen credit gradually waned as his reputation as a notable playwright grew due to the success of his play Hidden in the Picture. When his 1989 Broadway play A Few Good Men was turned into the 1992 feature that proved a runaway hit, Hollywood took notice. Sorkin next penned the screenplay for the 1993 thriller Malice; the feature was only lukewarmly received by critics and audiences, and was later overshadowed by his screenplay for the 1995 political romantic comedy The American President. This was followed by work as writer and executive producer on the universally hailed, but inexplicably short-lived, series Sports Night, and soon Sorkin was one of the most talented writers working in television. As popular as Sports Night was with critics and audiences, however, it was his next series that brought Sorkin his biggest success to date. Molded from dialogue left over from his bloated 385-page screenplay for The American President (most screenplays average only 120 pages), his initial scripts for the political TV series The West Wing were smart, fast-paced, and, according to Washington insiders, uncannily spot-on. Sorkin was arrested in April 2001 when authorities at Burbank Airport discovered hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana, and crack in his baggage; the writer was later ordered into a drug diversion program. By the time he announced his departure from The West Wing in May 2003, he had claimed three Emmys for his efforts and many thought the show had reached its creative peak. As he bid farewell to the NBC show, Sorkin was rumored to be preparing a series based on the backstage banter of a Saturday Night Live-style comedy sketch series.

That program, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, lasted only a season, but it was three high-quality scripts produced after that show ended that solidified his status as one of the best screenwriters of his generation. The historical political film Charlie Wilson's War got strong reviews, but in 2010 Sorkin's screenplay for The Social Network resulted in one of the most decorated films of the year and captured the scribe Screenwriting awards from the Academy, BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the L.A and New York Critics, and the WGA. One year later he was back in the Oscar race with his work on the adaptation of Michael Lewis' non-fiction baseball flick Moneyball. Never one to rest on his laurels, he returned in 2012 with HBO's The Newsroom -- a series centering on an apathetic news reporter (played by Jeff Daniels) who gradually begins to regain his integrity following a seismic shift in the ranks of his staff.

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  • Sold the film rights to A Few Good Men before the play even premiered. The plot was based on a real-life incident related to Sorkin by his sister Deborah, a Navy JAG lawyer.
  • Did uncredited work rewriting the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Holocaust drama Schindler's List.
  • Turned in a 385-page first-draft screenplay for 1995's The American President. Unused material from that script was later adapted for the TV series The West Wing.
  • Received the Humanitas Prize for the 1999 West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo."
  • Had cameo appearances in the films A Few Good Men (1992) and The American President (1995), as well as episodes of Sports Night and The West Wing.
  • Originally tried to make it in show business as an actor.