‘Broadcast News’ star William Hurt dies at 71

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

William Hurt, who played Tom Grunick in the 1987 behind the scenes TV news drama “Broadcast News,” died at 71 in March 2022.

“It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor, on March 13, 2022, one week before his 72nd birthday,” the family said in a statement first appearing in Variety.

Hurt also starrted in “Body Heat,” “Children of a Lesser God” and “The Big Chill.” More recently he appeared in several Marvel movies as General Thaddeus Ross.

In “Broadcast News,” Hurt played a handsome but slightly dim man who’s hired as a correspondent at a fictional network’s Washington, D.C. bureau, despite his apparent lack of journalistic chops.

Jane Craig, played by Holly Hunter, a skilled but slightly neurotic producer prone to private crying fits. Her character is said to be based on CBS News veteran and former president Susan Zirinsky, and wrestles with her personal and professional feelings for Grunick and the industry throughout the film.

As layoffs hit the network, Grunick is sent overseas to London before, in a scene set years in the future, being promoted to main anchor.

Before starting his new job, he and Craig are supposed to take a vacation together until she discovers that he faked crying for a cutaway shot during a single camera interview with a rape victim, though he claimed he really did tear up during the interview but the tape captured him forcing tears after the fact.

Later, as he is being elevated to main anchor, replacing Jack Nicholson’s Bill Rorish, he declines to take the managing editor title that often comes with the role and instead asks Craig to take over that position and move to New York.

Albert Brooks also stars as correspondent Aaron Altman who has a close relationship with Craig as well but is struggling to stay relevant at the network.

Joan Cusack appears as producer Blair Litton who, along with Craig, has an epic scene where they and a video editor race to finish one of Altman’s packages just seconds before the New York broadcast cuts to the D.C. feed.

Zirinsky served as a producer and technical adviser on the film.

“Broadcast News,” along with “Network,” is often cited as one of the best TV news themed films of all time and is frequently screened in journalism schools, with debates on the ethical issues, characters and other events in the film often taking place.