In an era when Wikileaks sends governments scrambling and gets its founder shortlisted for a Nobel Peace Prize, when people use Facebook and Twitter to organize revolutions and topple dictators, when newspapers are going bankrupt and nobody watches the six o’clock news anymore, and when news agencies are editorial pawns for partisan politics, where can a person go to find the truth?
Breaking News is a 1-hour procedural drama series following The Talon, an internet news agency. Its mission: report the truth in all parts of the world, no matter what the cost. It features undercover journalism combined with social and relationship drama, plus and a healthy dose of action-adventure.
The series action revolves around the characters at The Talon, a news website for the modern world. Michael Falcon, a dot-com billionaire, founded the site as an alternative to what he sees as a toothless and corrupt mainstream press. He’s collected of team of renegade journalists who are not afraid to do whatever it takes to get to the truth, from whatever source they can get it from.
No laws. No limits. The truth at any cost.
Each episode revolves around a breaking news story. After the team at The Talon spots a trending story breaking on the ground, they dispatch their reporter on a quest to discover the facts and the people behind them. Back in the newsroom, the Editor in Chief fights to get it out first while the opinion editor challenges the sources and the interpretation of the facts, framed against the backdrop of media-savvy twentysomethings writing witty and provocative headlines to capture in a nano second the attentions of a surfing audience. And all the while, the debate of what is truth rages on.
A new-style news series that breaks all the rules, Breaking News examines the role of the media in a world where anyone can be a reporter. At the heart of every story and every character’s development is the central theme of truth, explored on all levels. Truth in the news and truth in their personal lives, where intellectual foreplay is a game, where sex is squeezed in between assignments and when personal truth is the last story you want to uncover.
This is Breaking News. This is the future of journalism, today.
THE MAN BEHIND IT ALL…
MICHAEL FALCON — The Dot-Com Billionaire
Mid-40’s, Canadian, this ENTREPRENEUR OWNER struck it rich during the dot-com boom. Very, very rich. Dashing, fearless and cunning, as the public face of The Talon he shields his band of renegade news reporters by gleefully taking on all would-be challengers in the press and in the courtroom.
After being maligned in the press for over a decade — and now watching them set their paparazzi sights on the antics of his out-of-control teenaged daughter — this media-savvy maverick is now obsessed with using his vast fortune and influence to destroy the mainstream news industry and replace it with something better. To this end, he started The Talon as an independent online news source dedicated to reporting the unbiased truth at all costs. Of course, he also sees the potential to increase his wealth, earn respect, and create a lasting legacy with his new style of news gathering and reporting.
Angry pundits call The Talon an expensive joke, nothing more than a petty stab at revenge against the journalists who exposed his alleged crimes and vilified him in the public. No crime has ever been sufficiently uncovered yet Michael Falcon has an air of mystery about him that at times hints at something darker in his past.
Once a renowned playboy, now that his teenaged daughter has started following in his party-animal footsteps his life has turned a corner and he genuinely seeks transformation — of his life, his legacy, and the news industry. It has yet to be seen if he himself can weather the all-seeing eye of his own creation as it seeks to expose the truth.
In his quest to reinvent the news (and himself), Michael Falcon has assembled a team of specialists and charged them with one task…expose the truth.
IN THE NEWSROOM…
RYAN MITCHELL– The Editor-In-Chief
Mid-30’s, American, as EDITOR-IN-CHIEF this renegade newsman has the difficult job balancing The Talon‘s goal of reporting the truth through radical means with the constant threat of landing the entire staff in jail for a variety of international crimes.
More Facebook than New York Times (though he has been fired from positions at both), this rebel is also under immense pressure to get the numbers up on The Talon and start earning revenue; even a billionaire can’t afford to hemorrhage money indefinitely. All this while juggling the dissolution of his marriage and the family he left behind in New York.
He takes his responsibility and accountability of being Editor-In-Chief very seriously, but beyond the dread of getting someone killed, or jailed, or becoming a laughing stock in the industry, his greatest fear may be of disappointing Mike Falcon, the boss and mentor who trusted him with this important job when no-one else would.
FATIMA BAZZI — The Opinion Editor
Late 30’s, Iranian-American, this OPINION EDITOR is charged with the task of keeping The Talon‘s news reporting honest and balanced by providing the opposing view of the stories they cover. She researches all sides of every story by talking to the top experts around the world, then provides essential context through her popular video editorials called “The Other Side.”
Her father is a former Iranian diplomat who defected when Fatima was just a little girl, and she has struggled her whole life to be taken seriously as a Muslim woman in the West. A career journalist, shortly before 911 she took a job with Al Jazeera in London where she faced a different set of struggles as a professional woman in an Arab world.
In addition to wisdom and experience, she brings an impressive list of contacts to The Talon and throws all her passion toward providing meaning to the agency’s goal of exposing the world as it really is. A staunch defender of the underdog, she sometimes loses sight of the line of objectivity between the story and the people behind it.
Fatima and Ryan, consummate professionals, rarely agree on if and how a story should be presented — after all, it is their job to disagree. They share an intellectual sparring match that threatens to break their professional levees and spill over into a physical romance that is, if their boss Michael Falcon’s shameless attention to Fatima doesn’t win her over first.
IN THE FIELD…
SAMANTHA HARPER — The Reporter
Mid-30’s, Canadian, this brash REPORTER’s obsession with uncovering the truth pushes her into taking dangerous risks in pursuit of a story.
Sam is a former CNN reporter who was kidnapped, tortured, and sexually abused while investigating a story in Liberia. The incident not only left her scarred both physically and emotionally, but also unemployed when the network dropped her because she no longer fit their vision of an on-screen personality.
She believes that old media has lost its relevance and is seeking out a new way to tell the news. It just so happens that Sam’s new way involves ignoring inconvenient things like laws and common sense, and carrying a sidearm at all times. She is fearless to the point of reckless, and in her tireless pursuit of a story she is not afraid to become part of the very story she’s covering.
Connected to billionaire Michael Falcon because she once investigated insider-trading allegations against him, but refused to go public with the story until she had evidence. After her kidnapping in Liberia and subsequent dismissal from CNN, Falcon knew her passion and integrity made her perfect for his new news agency. Once he sobered her up, of course.
DUNCAN SHARPE — The Fixer
Late-30’s, British, this charming FIXER’s ability to talk fast and think faster is vital for helping Sam Harper worm her way into the hard stories.
An adventurous rogue, this former UK Special Forces officer can speak a multitude of languages and no matter where they go he always seems to know somebody who knows somebody else who can get them what they need. He also knows 101 ways to take down a hostile with a spoon, and with Sam’s help is starting to get pretty good with a camera too
He feels a responsibility to protect Sam at the same time he admires her reckless attitude, struggling to balance his need to keep her safe with his desire to facilitate her mission. He is less concerned with finding the truth than he is with feeding his adrenaline addiction.
The dynamic between Sam and Duncan oozes sexuality. Their risk-taking lifestyle begs for reckless moments of passion that keep their relationship smoldering and dangerous. While Duncan might call it love, for Holly he may be nothing more than a pleasant way to kill time between assignments.
BEHIND THE SCENES…
SUZIE ITO –The Social Networker
Early 20’s, Japanese-Canadian, this nerdy NEWS AGGREGATOR is constantly connected to social technology as she combs the blogs and chatrooms in search of the stories that The Talon needs to cover.
Too smart for anyone’s good, hiring her was the first thing Ryan Mitchell did in his new role as The Talon‘s EIC — they worked together in the past, and he knows that not only is she the best at what she does, but that she can be trusted implicitly. Awkward and shy in person, Suzie is a social butterfly when conversing online. Terrified of speaking into a telephone, she’ll happily text message on one all day long.
She has a thousand friends all over the world, only a tiny fraction of whom she’s ever met in real life, and none of whom her conservative, domineering, immigrant parents know about. In fact, her parents don’t know what she’s always doing online, or even that she works for The Talon.
JAY RENARD — The Computer Savant
Early 20’s, French, there is very little this technophile COMPUTER SAVANT can’t do with a computer. From the moment he could walk he’s been tinkering with technology, and knows both hardware and software inside and out. If only the same could be said for his ability to understand people or the way they interact in the real world.
Fresh out of college and thrilled with his first job, he is realizing how sheltered he was in his upbringing. Although his main job is to make TheTalon.com a cutting edge website and keep it online in the face of seemingly daily denial-of-service attacks, his talents also come in handy for some more nefarious hacking tasks. That’s how he caught the attention of Michael Falcon in the first place. Sometimes he’s asked to take his hacking skills out into the field, which is a terrifying experience for all involved.
His wide-eyed youthful innocence and naiveté has been rocked by the things he is learning working for the news agency. He provides comic relief with his witty one-liners, and though his inexperience with the kind of world The Talon exists in he asks the questions our audience is thinking.
Suzan and Jay are both from the wired generation, but represent two very different sides: while she grew up spending her time online chatting, he has only ever been concerned with the silicon chips and code that makes it all work. They make a great team, though they’d both rather lose their internet connection than admit that.
ON THE GROUND…
The Talon gets its information from non-traditional sources. Although it’s also starting to earn a reputation as the place to go to when someone has a story that needs to be told and nobody else is listening, The Falcon Truth doesn’t wait for press releases to show up in its inboxes: it cruises the chatrooms and network the social sites and follow the tweets to unearth the hot stories of the day.
The Talon finds its stories through the people involved in them, the bloggers and activists and whistleblowers and victims who are the NEWSMAKERS on the ground, the breadcrumbs on the trail to the truth.
Each episode we meet a new group of informants through a highly stylized cold open that shows them somehow capturing on camera the initial lead that will attract The Talon‘s attention. The rest of that episode follows their story as our guerilla reporters’ work with the newsroom staff to get to the bottom of what’s really happening with them on the ground.
Similarly, the tag at the end of each episode bookends this signature cold open through mock-webcam videos of ordinary people offering their opinions on the main story covered by The Talon in that episode, reinforcing the central theme that there are as many versions of the truth as there are people to witness it.