Network



Network is a 1976 satirical film about a fictional television network named Union Broadcasting System (UBS) and its struggle with poor TV ratings. It was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, and stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight.

As the story opens, the audience learns that longtime network news anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch), who hosts the UBS Evening News, has been fired due to low ratings. The following night, Beale announces live on-air that he will commit suicide by getting a gun and "blowing his brains out" during an upcoming broadcast. (Some believe this was inspired in part by newscaster Christine Chubbuck's on-air suicide.)

UBS immediately fires him after this incident, but they let him back on the air upon the persuasion of Beale's producer and best friend Max Schumacher (played by William Holden), the network's old guard news editor. Beale promises that he will apologize for his outburst, but instead rants about how life is "bullshit." While there are serious repercussions, the program's ratings skyrocket and, much to Schumacher's dismay, the upper echelons of UBS decide to exploit Beale's antics rather than pulling him off the air. Ultimately, the show becomes the highest rated on television, and Beale finds new celebrity preaching humanist messages in front of a live audience. His new set is lit by blue spotlights and an enormous stained-glass window.

Parallel to the story of Beale, the film depicts the rise within UBS of Diana Christensen (played by Faye Dunaway). She begins as a producer of entertainment programming and ends up controlling a merged news and entertainment division. To advance this, Christensen has an affair with Schumacher, who has long been married. She is obsessed with the success of the network, and claims that she has no skills aside from her job.

Upon discovering that the conglomerate that owns UBS will be bought out by a yet larger Saudi Arabian conglomerate, Beale launches an on-screen tirade against the two conglomerates, encouraging the audience to telegram the White House with the message, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more" in hopes of stopping the merger. The chairman of the company that presently owns UBS then lectures Beale on the general equilibrium theory of macroeconomics, ultimately persuading Beale to abandon his populist messages. Audiences find Beale's new views depressing and his ratings begin to slide.

Though Beale's ratings plummet, the chairman will not allow the firing of Beale. Obsessed as ever with UBS' ratings, Christensen arranges for Beale's on-air murder by a group of urban terrorists who, in a sub-plot, also have a UBS show.
Spoilers end here.

The film examines the way networks make decisions about programming and the disdain that they show for their audiences. It also serves as a warning against potential abuses resulting from corporate conglomorate ownership of television networks, specifically with regards to news reporting. Produced and released in the year of the United States Bicentennial and following the Watergate scandal and resignation of Richard Nixon, and the loss of the Vietnam War, the film's main themes are the decay of public service, the interplay between capitalism and humanism, the differences between love and lust and, to a lesser extent, the effects of a generation gap.

Network won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Peter Finch, posthumously), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Faye Dunaway), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Beatrice Straight) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (William Holden), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ned Beatty), Best Cinematography (Owen Roizman), Best Film Editing (Alan Heim), Best Director, and Best Picture.

It won three of the five acting awards, tying the record with A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951.

* Kathy Cronkite, daughter of famed CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite appears in the film.
* The film spawned the popular phrase "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," though the actual quote in the film, as uttered by Howard Beale, is "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" It was parodied by Michael Richards in UHF as "These floors are as dirty as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" It is also used by the New York Mets to rev up the crowd when they are threatening to score. It starts with "I want all you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs, go to the window, and yell...". It then cuts to "Lets Go Mets!"
* In the "mad as hell" scene, UBS discovers that people watching all over the country are yelling the phrase out their windows. At one point, an executive talks on the phone to the network's Atlanta affiliate: "Are they yelling in Atlanta, Ted?" -- a possible reference to Ted Turner. However, this could be a coincidence; Turner did own the station that became WTBS as early as 1970, but wouldn't become a national name until well after the movie was produced.
* In that same scene, Peter Finch's Australian accent is noticeable in one word. He pronounces the word "homicide" as Hoe-me-side
* Dunaway and Finch have no scenes together, despite being arguably the main protagonist and antagonist of the film.
* In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
* Actor George Clooney is planning to produce and co-star in a live made-for-television remake of the film, just as he did with "Fail-Safe" [1]. Clooney's character refers to Network in his 1998 film Out of Sight.
* In 2006, the script (written by Paddy Chayefsky), was voted one of the top ten movie scripts of all-time by the Writer's Guild of America.
* The pilot episode of the 2006 series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had scenes inspired by the film, and the episode itself made reference to this. In early development, the fictional production company in the series was also called "UBS", as in this film.
* The begining of the music video for System of a Down's Sugar is a reenactment of a scene from this movie.
* Beatrice Straight, who played Holden's wife in the film, won the 1976 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress; her's was the shortest performance ever to win the award (her character was on screen for a less than six minutes).
* The film is regarded as prophetic, in that it depicted the concept of reality television a generation before it actually came into being.

Cast:

* Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen
* William Holden as Max Schumacher
* Peter Finch as Howard Beale
* Robert Duvall as Frank Hackett
* Wesley Addy as Nelson Chaney
* Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen
* Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher
* Jordan Charney as Harry Hunter
* Lane Smith as Robert McDonough
* Cindy Grover as Caroline Schumacher
* Marlene Warfield as Laureen Hobbs
* Carolyn Krigbaum as Max's Secretary
* Lee Richardson as Narrator (voice)

Academy Awards

Won:

* Best Actor in a Leading Role - Peter Finch
* Best Actress in a Leading Role - Faye Dunaway
* Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Beatrice Straight
* Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen - Paddy Chayefsky

Nominated:

* Best Actor in a Leading Role - William Holden
* Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Ned Beatty
* Best Cinematography - Owen Roizman
* Best Film Editing - Alan Heim
* Best Director - Sidney Lumet
* Best Picture

Golden Globes

Won:

* Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama - Peter Finch
* Best Motion Picture Actress-Drama - Faye Dunaway
* Best Director - Sidney Lumet
* Best Screenplay - Paddy Chayefsky

Nominated:

* Best Motion Picture-Drama

BAFTA Awards

Won:

* Best Actor - Peter Finch

Nominated:

* Best Film
* Best Actor - William Holden
* Best Actress - Faye Dunaway
* Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall
* Best Director - Sidney Lumet
* Best Editing - Alan Heim
* Best Screenplay - Paddy Chayefsky
* Best Sound Track - Jack Fitzstephens, Marc Laub, Sanford Rackow, James Sabat, & Dick VorisekPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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