Among the columnists are veteran Jack Reilly (Gregory Harrison) and younger Angela Villanova (Melina Kanakaredes) on the news side, sports columnist Tony Amato (Anthony DeSando) and gossip columnist Nan Chase (Madeline Kahn).
Ellie Milanski (Kelli Williams) is an intern who’d like to be a reporter, maybe a columnist. Kevin Chamberlin plays Victor, the newsroom’s slow-witted clerk; something like Benny from “L.A. Law.” Maybe he’ll get to be a columnist, too.
Everybody gets to do something in the pilot script by show’s creator, Michelle Ashford (a title card notes, intriguingly, “Based on a format by Mike McAlary & Jay Moses”).
Reilly bolts from his gathering tips on a Dept. of Sanitation expose to chase down a fire, which leads to an even bigger expose; Milanski is chasing hookers in Central Park before being reassigned to a story on taxi drivers prompted by Chase. (How naive is Milanski? When Felcott — who spends a lot of time in the newsroom for an editor-in-chief — assigns her the story, the cub replies, “Actually, I was working on something else.”).
In the meantime, Chase is reporting on Barbra Streisand’s Carnegie Hall opening, covering her black eye with a patch designed by Donna Karan. But don’t confuse her with Liz Smith, whose idea of reporting, according to Chase in one of the episode’s best lines, “is reading an entire issue of Vanity Fair, cover-to-cover.” Acting is OK, though there’s plenty of room for characters to gain more dimension. Pilot under Michael Apted’s assured direction has (like every other N.Y.-set series) a gritty look; production design by Veronica Hadfield and Justin Scoppa is a plus.