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Missing the 'News'

January 31, 1988

I just wanted to express some thoughts about the movie "Broadcast News" and Joyce Sunila's article about Holly Hunter's character ("The Heartless Woman From 'Broadcast News,' " Jan. 24).

Sunila and a lot of other commentators seem to miss the movie's point: They focus on producer Jane Craig's "moral choice" near the end of the movie to break off her budding relationship with Tom (William Hurt). This points up what they say is the movie's main theme--the battle of substance over style and Jane's victory.

To me, this view works if writer/director James Brooks ended his film at that scene. He didn't. He then takes us seven years later. For Tom, life has improved: He's engaged, he's gotten the top anchor job.

For Albert Brooks' character, life has also improved--and changed. Brooks took a hard look at his smug moralism and got out of it: seven years later, he's living in Portland, has a wife, a son, different priorities.

But Jane Craig? She's gotten a big promotion, true. But the most important person in her life is a boyfriend she's only known three months. Seven years later, she's still using her "ethics" as a shield, as she did with Tom.

Afraid of love, afraid to venture out of the comfortable cocoon she'd made of her job and her attitudes, she couldn't even go with Tom to an island for a few days to see--just to see--if they had something.

I worked in broadcast news for years, before leaving it recently to write for the screen. I knew a lot of Jane Craigs, men and women, for whom work becomes not just an obsession, but a home, a life.

Jane's attraction to Tom--who shares none of Jane's obsessions about news--threatens that home, threatens what is really the love of her life: her job. So she chooses. And seven years later, she still chooses the same way.

That is her tragedy. It is common. It is not limited to women. Nor to broadcast news.

JOSEPH M. FERULLO

Hollywood

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