Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Hoping to revive the glory days of Lou Grant, NBC, in association with Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, came forth with the weekly, one-hour newspaper drama Deadline. Oliver Platt starred as Wallace Benton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter whose dauntless dedication was matched by his short temper and gift for deception. Aided by Beth Khambu (Christina Chang) and Charles Foster (Damon Gupton), two students from the graduate journalism class that he taught in his spare time (what spare time?), Benton regularly riffed on the rich, powerful, and corrupt in his daily column "Nothing But the Truth." Because he ignored such journalistic niceties as press passes and off-the-record statements, Benton was the source of many a headache for his lawsuit-fearing publisher Si Beekman (Tom Conti) and his managing editor Nikki Masucci (Bebe Neuwirth). And because he cared more about "The Truth" than financial compensation, Benton was forever behind in alimony payments to his three ex-wives -- one of whom, Brooke Benton (Hope Davis, worked side-by-side with Benton on the same newspaper. Also featured was that singular actress Lily Taylor as Hildy Baker. Debuting October 2, 2000, Deadline was almost universally panned by real-life journalists, who complained that the sort of melodramatic pyrotechnics engaged in by Wallace Benton hadn't been used since the gonzo days of The Front Page -- and even worse, Benton was a poor and clumsy writer, whose stilted headlines and purple prose seemed calculated to drive readers to other sources of news. Undaunted, the series' producers described Deadline as "Columbo in a newspaper office," so the viewer knew exactly what to expect.
columnist, newspaper, newsroom, reporter