With Sidney Lumet`s ‘Network,’ Is This 1976 or Today`s Network News?

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

I just had to see a Sidney Lumet film yesterday, since his death about a week ago. I was hoping to find Serpico on Netflix as a Instant Watch, but settled on Network, which is considered his best film by many. Peter Finch (who died before the Academy Awards) got best actor, Faye Dunaway got best actress, and Paddy Chayefsky received the best original screenplay. My personal favorite acting role goes to William Holden, who plays the UBS news division president Max Schumacher.

Network is a 1976 film, so I assumed it would come across as fairly stale after so much time. A good thing is that I haven`t seen it since that time, so I was able to take a fresh look at it. For me the main angle or message that still resonates with us today, is that network news is about ratings and entertainment, not about providing a valuable service to the public by way of ‘objective news.’

The film takes these ideas to extreme levels, like the ending, which I still don`t know was a show or real. But this is just the point – there`s a fine line between fantasy and reality, especially when you`re talking about television. My case in point is the affair between Max Schumacher (William Holden) and Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) which absurdly resembles one of her dramatic episodes from a hit show of hers. And look at all the amazing parallels you can draw between the fictional network UBS and our contemporary news networks. Think Fox News!