'The Newsroom' at PaleyFest: Season 2 Flash-Forwards, Jim's Great Escape and a Love Hexagon

Host Piers Morgan spent most of PaleyFest’s Sunday night Newsroom panel offering his own opinions on the 24-hour news cycle and posing wandering, often self-absorbed ethical questions to the HBO series’ actors as if they were actual news producers. As a result, viewers gained little insight in to season 2 — except that the Sandy Hook tragedy may be addressed and that fans of Sloan and Don’s sexual chemistry will not be let down. The panel finally heated up toward the end via audience questions. Below, the highlights:

What to expect in season 2
“If you’re a fan of Don and Sloan, I would definitely be watching,” creator and executive producer Aaron Sorkin teased. In terms of the real-life connection to actual news, season 2 will follow the 2012 presidential election throughout. The Trayvon Martin shooting and budget crisis will also be addressed. Sorkin — who is currently writing episode 5 — admitted to being wary about writing Sandy Hook into the season even though he knows it’s unavoidable. “That’s a tough thing to write about without minimalizing it, exploiting it, spreading Cheez Whiz all over it,” he said. “Sorry for the bad metaphor, but there are so many land mines to step on. You want to make sure you don’t do it a disservice.” Having season 2 end chronologically just before Sandy Hook is a possibility.

Flash-forwards!: Although Season 2 will pick up just a week after the first season finale, the second season will take a page from Damages' playbook and flash-forward to a major, season-long story line every few episodes. "You'll understand if you watch the season from the beginning," Sorkin said. Poul went a bit further and revealed that the story will involve a lawsuit brought against News Night for, and Marcia Gay Harden a high-powered attorney who is hired to represent the show. "It involves news. It involves all of our characters and that is something that the details of which will unfold gradually as the season progresses," he says. "It will put them in jeopardy." When asked what inspired the idea, Poul said it was about keeping the show fresh for fans. "What we did last season, which was every episode, once you found out what date it was taking place, everyone would try and guess 'Oh, what is going to be the breaking news?' - that paradigm worked really well," he says. "If we just repeated that, it would begin to ... lose some of its excitement so we just wanted to up our game a little bit."

Should Will and MacKenzie resume a romance?
Sorkin was vague. “We’ve gotta be careful — if you have them dance up to the fire enough times, the audience is gonna leave.” But he added, “I do not believe a couple that’s together is any less fun or sexy than a couple that’s trying to get together.”

Hit the road, Jim: After (finally) sharing a long-awaited kiss with Maggie (Alison Pill) in the season finale, things will obviously be a little awkward when Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) hears about her and Don (Thomas Sadoski) moving in together. So how does he deal with a broken heart? By leaving town and heading to New Hampshire to replace News Night's embedded reporter on the Romney campaign bus. "Jim had lots of personal reasons for wanting to go away for a couple weeks," Poul said. That storyline will introduce new faces including Constance Zimmer and Grace Gummer, both of whom play characters working for the Romney campaign. Added Sorkin: "He sees a whole new world there."

Speaking of the love triangle: It's going to get even more complicated, natch. "It becomes a hexagon," Poul said. "We just keep adding more sides to make it interesting." Although the cast was tight-lipped about the dynamics this season, Pill did reveal that Maggie's now-ex-roommate, and Jim's on-and-off girlfriend Lisa (Kelen Coleman) will be back. When asked if Jim will be getting a new love interest this season, Poul answered with a coy "maybe." As for Don and Maggie, Pill said things will be "different and not different enough" between the two once they start co-habitating. "It seems to have settled into a nice easy place, certainly at the beginning," Sadoski said.

Odd man in: Now that Don and Maggie have moved in together, look for News Night's ex-executive producer to also feel more at home with McAvoy's entire team in the office as well. "I think he's been integrated back into the group a little bit more," Sadoski said. "As per Charlie's wishes, the two shows are now working together in tandem and that integration is felt a little bit more in this season."

Meta question of the night!
Sorkin singled out a woman in the front row and made sure Piers Morgan would give her the time of day, and it was a good call: “Jeff, why is America the greatest country in the world?” It was the same question posed to Will McAvoy by the student in the series premiere. “It’s not — but it can be,” Daniels gamely replied.

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