I'm sure I'm not the only person who wishes that screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky was alive today to witness our White House situation. A millionaire of the WALL STREET "Greed is good" 1980s era becomes a 21st Century network reality TV game show host, runs for the presidency with no previous political office experience...and wins. He is now President of the United States. What would Paddy Chayefsky, the man who wrote 1976's NETWORK, have to say about this turns of events? I had not started my professional TV career when NETWORK came out. But I do vividly recall being absorbed and fascinated by this surreal satire of network television. It was so stunning and provocative that I saw it more than once. And each time I saw it, the movie audience was packed. And shocked. Remember, this came out when TV was quite different -- and quite innocent compared to how it is today. The first thing that shocked and fascinated us in NETWORK was that TV news anchor Howard Beale announced on his show that he'd commit suicide and co-workers in the control room really weren't paying that much attention to this poor soul having a nervous breakdown.
I watched the Oscars the night that the late Peter Finch was announced as Best Actor for NETWORK. I watched with some Caucasian co-workers in Milwaukee. A couple were stunned and looked each other in amazement. Why? Because Peter Finch's widow accepted the Oscar and gave a lovely acceptance speech for her late love.
She was a gorgeous and gracious black woman. A couple of voices in the room said, "Who is that accepting the Oscar for him?" When she announced that she was Mrs. Finch, their jaws dropped.
NETWORK. A classic. And it's still painfully relevant.