Albert Brooks revealed that when he first read the script, the scene where Aaron does a weekend broadcast simply noted "Something bad happens to Aaron on the air." Albert was watching CNN, when a reporter he'd never seen before (and hasn't seen since) began sweating badly. Albert phoned Writer and Director James L. Brooks at three in the morning, and stated that Aaron HAD to start sweating profusely.
John Cusack is credited as "Angry Messenger". During the staff firings, a young man yells "sons of bitches!", and angrily throws a messenger bag to the office floor. The character's face isn't seen, but the voice sounds like Cusack's.
Marc Shaiman and Glen Roven, who played News Theme Writers, are real-life composers, who have also done television jingles. Shaiman, after doing this movie, went on to score major motion picture films, and has since been nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Aaron Altman asks Tom Grunick if he can name each of the Cabinet Members, and, when Tom tells him yes, and Aaron asks, "All twelve?", to which Tom replies, "Yes, Aaron, all twelve", and then Brooks says, "There are only ten." There were actually 13 in 1986: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury. As of 2016, there are 15: the 13 in 1986 plus Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
Early in the film, Aaron is told a man is waiting for him downstairs for an interview. Tom asks if he can come along. There were scenes filmed that showed the interview. The man they interviewed went on to inspire Tom to be a better reporter. Those scenes were cut from the final film.
Jane Craig was inspired by CBS News Producer Susan Zirinsky. Before filming began, Holly Hunter spent time job shadowing Zirinsky to see how things worked in a real newsroom. Hunter also cut her hair into a "bob" style haircut to resemble Zirinsky.
This was James L. Brooks's first theatrical film in four years. His previous film, Terms of Endearment (1983), won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Albert Brooks and Jack Nicholson appeared in this movie and Terms of Endearment (1983). At least 18 members of cast and crew worked on both of these movies. Also, both movies were Oscar nominated in numerous categories, with this movie receiving seven Academy Award nominations.
Jennifer is sent to Anchorage, Alaska, to report on bodies that had been found after being buried by a serial killer. It's a reference to the Robert Hansen case. Hansen would abduct women, sometimes flying them to remote locations in his plane, rape them, and hunt them. In 1983, he was convicted of 17 murders, and sentenced to 461 years in prison with no possibility of parole. He died August 21, 2014.
Switching Channels (1988) was made and released following on the heels of this multi-Academy Award nominated, and more successful, movie. Switching Channels (1988) ended up being a critical and box-office failure.
When Aaron is anchoring the news, one of the technicians notes that Richard Nixon never sweated as much. Later, when Jane comes to Aaron's house after the correspondents gala and they are talking, a picture of Richard and Pat Nixon is visible on his wall.
Tom tells Jane about a problem with the "Allen Fighting Vehicle." It's based on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Originally intended to be a transport with offensive capability, so many features were added that it became completely untenable. Adding heavier armor and greater armaments required a sturdier build, which required a more powerful engine and greater fuel capacity, which meant it could carry fewer soldiers. The added weight made it sink in marshy ground. Tests showed to to be little more than a portable soldier incinerator. In the end, the design had to be reworked, leading to $5 billion in cost overruns. The story was dramatized in The Pentagon Wars (1998).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
James L. Brooks said he was open to who Jane would end up with at the end. He told Premiere Magazine: "After principal photography, I got the idea for a cab ride at the end, and I set it up so that Holly didn't know Bill was on the set. Bill was prepared, but no dialogue. All he'd know is that he couldn't get on that plane, and that he goes back and gets in that cab with her. I knew I'd get one take, and I knew that Holly wouldn't break character, and I'd get, who knows. So you can imagine the excitement built up to this. It's ready, and a guy on the crew gave it away by saying 'Bill' just before we started to roll, and it ruined it, and I had an out-of-body experience. (Hurt and Hunter) saw that scene later, and they both thought I should end the movie that way. But it just wasn't right."