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Sports Night

Sports Night is a show about a show about sports (also named Sports Night). The show focuses on the people who run the show, their friendship, and the ethical issues they face. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the half-hour prime time comedy aired on ABC for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.

The show starred Robert Guillaume as producer Isaac Jaffey, Felicity Huffman as assistant producer Dana Whitaker, Peter Krause as anchor Casey McCall, Josh Charles as anchor Dan Rydell, Sabrina Lloyd as Natalie Hurley, and Joshua Malina as Jeremy Goodwin.

Notable guest stars included William H. Macy as Sam Donovan.

The Sports Night that the show is about takes place on the fictional Continental Sports Channel (CSC), a subsidiary of Continental Corp, owned and run by Luther Saks. (Continental Corp is probably loosely based on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which runs the Fox Sports Net.)

The show is often somewhat self-referential: in many episodes, the characters are often gossiping or going over everything that's happening in the show - gossiping as viewers would normally do.

The heart of Sports Night's comedy is Sorkin's dialogue, often delivered at a rapid-fire pace while at the same time exposing the murkiness that often occurs when people try to put difficult thoughts into words. For example:

Jeremy: Is it about Rebecca?
Dan: It's not about Rebecca.
Jeremy: Because I can't get in the way of your relationships anymore--
Dan: (more reassuringly) It's not about Rebecca.
Jeremy: (silent pause)
Dan: (admittingly) It's about Rebecca.

The show also focuses on the characters' relationships, including an off-again on-again flirtation and romance between Dana and Casey, the oil-and-water passion between Natalie and Jeremy, and Dan's ongoing problems with relationships generally. Isaac hovers over it all as a benevolent but uncompromising father-figure.

Guillaume suffered a stroke mid-way through the first season, and this event was worked into his character and the season's story arc.

Sports Night struggled to find an audience, its dialogue-based humor not playing very well in situation-comedy-oriented America, and ABC axed it after two seasons. Though it had the opportunity to move to another station, Sorkin decided to let the show pass so that he could focus on his much more popular drama The West Wing.

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