Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies

Dave Itzkoff. Times Books, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9569-2
Network, the satirical masterpiece that won four Academy Awards in 1976, remains a cultural touchstone even for those moderately enthusiastic about cinema. Its writer’s name, Paddy Chayefsky, has become much less recognizable in comparison since his death in 1981 despite his long and storied career in television and movies. Itzkoff, a culture reporter for the New York Times, reminds us of Chayefsky’s unique career trajectory and deeply idiosyncratic writing style in this chronicle of the writer’s greatest work. Prior knowledge of Network and the state of Hollywood in the early- to mid-1970s is extremely helpful; although Itzkoff nicely sums up each major player’s biography and filmography, seeing the screenplay’s evolution appeal best to those who are familiar with its final form. There’s still plenty to enjoy for those who have yet to see the movie, though—Itzkoff peppers his straightforward and balanced narrative with plenty of juicy anecdotes, including Peter Finch’s briefly monastic upbringing and Chayefsky’s furious attacks on antisemitism. But Itzkoff’s real achievement is in his chilling analysis of Network as prophecy, demonstrating through interviews with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert, Bill O’Reilly, and others that Chayefsky’s satire has become our reality. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-8050-9570-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-06224-6
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