Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brian Williams Is Howard Beale

The biggest hugest irony of all time ever:

During Tuesday's obligatory coverage of Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater's run-in with a passenger (and subsequent escape via the plane's emergency exit chute), Nightly News included a clip of Peter Finch's character from "Network" screaming, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"


Apparently not. The UBS Evening News, the fictional news broadcast in "Network", IS NBC Nightly News. "Network" is about the depths to which a network (and its news division) will sink in order to achieve high ratings. When Howard Beale (Finch) learns that he is going to be fired, he announces that he will blow his brains out on the air--and claims that should be good for a fifty share in the ratings. After being yanked off the air, Beale is soon reinstated as anchor because his ratings go through the roof. His news show is transferred to the entertainment division (where Nightly News should be, since it's more entertainment than news). At one point in the film, Diana Christensen, the UBS VP of Entertainment Programming (played by Faye Dunaway) describes the UBS News by saying, "I watched your six o'clock news today--it's straight tabloid. You had a minute and a half of that lady riding a bike naked in Central Park. On the other hand, you had less than a minute of hard national and international news. It was all sex, scandal, brutal crimes, sports, children with incurable diseases and lost puppies." I repeat--that's Nightly News! Christensen even gives a TV show to the Ecumenical Liberation Army (a terrorist group based on the Symbionese Liberation Army). Obviously, NBC would give a weekly show to Al Qaeda or the Taliban if the network brass thought it would earn high ratings. Paddy Chayefsky seems like Nostradamus in the way that his script eerily predicted what Nightly News would become under Brian Williams and NBC News President Steve Capus.

Apparently, the Nightly News producer that decided to show the "Network" clip had absolutely no idea about the irony of that decision.

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