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BWW Flashback: A Look Back on NETWORK and Why It Still Resonates

BWW Flashback: A Look Back on NETWORK and Why It Still Resonates

The National Theatre production of Network, produced by David Binder, the National Theatre, Patrick Myles, David Luff, Ros Povey and Lee Menzies, opened t last night, December 6 at Broadway's Belasco Theatre. Some theatre goers may not know, however, that Network is based on a Oscar-winning film of the same name!

The film Network was released in 1976. It was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. The film followed the fictional television Network, UBS, and it's struggle with poor ratings.

The film follows news anchorman Howard Beale, who discovers that his show is going off air due to poor ratings. After threatening to shoot himself on live television, he instead launches into an angry televised rant, which turns out to be a huge ratings boost for the UBS Network. This stunt allows ambitious producer Diana Christensen to develop even more outrageous programming, a concept that she takes to the extreme.

The film starred Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch and Robert Duvall. Dunaway played Diana Christensen, Holden played Max Schumacher, and Finch played Howard Beale.

With a budget of only $3.8 million, the film grossed over $23.7 million and was critically acclaimed. Network went on to win four Academy Awards. Finch won for Best Actor, Dunaway won for Best Actress, Beatrice Straight won for Best Supporting Actress, and Chayefsky won for Best Original Screenplay. Sadly, however, Finch died before the 1977 Oscars, so he was the first performer to win a posthumous Academy Award - followed only by Heath Ledger in 2009. Straight played Louise Schumacher, Max's wife, on whom he cheats with Diana, and with only five minutes and two seconds of screen time, her performance is the shortest ever to win an Oscar.

The film won several other awards including four Golden Globes, including a Best Director win for Lumet, and a BAFTA.

Network was released in 1976, but its impact still remains today. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is currently on Broadway, wrote that "no predictor of the future - not even Orwell - has ever been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote Network."

In 2000, the Library of Congress selected Network to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. In 2002, the film was inducted into the Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame.

This satire film impacted television and society so greatly, that it's legacy lives on today. Bryan Cranston won 2018 Olivier Award for his performance in London, and Ben Brantley of the New York Times raves, "Network feels as pertinent to our time as it did to its own." Network is now on Broadway, and if you can't make it, watch the film to understand the legacy this story has.

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From This Author Kaitlin Milligan

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