Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TODAY’s 2nd NUGGET: #8 WGA Script of All Time – Network (1976)

[Quick Summary: Network exploits a mad, ranting news anchor for ratings.]

"Network" isn’t for sissies.

It's refreshing because it doesn't shy away from complicated characters with real moral issues. 

In fact, the script lets ALL the dirty laundry hang out so that we can talk about it.

ex. Howard was the news anchor, but he's fired.  However his last on-air rant sky rocketed the rating, so they hire him back. 

Diana the programmer exploits Howard's deteriorating mental health.   She never asks if it's right or wrong because it's the ratings that count, not people.  Thus, we get to explore how callous society has become.

ex. Max, fired president of the news division, tells his wife Louise that he's fallen for Diana, but doesn't know why.  Louise doesn't slink away.

Instead, she pins his ears back with a blistering speech:

"...This is your great winter romance, isn't it? Your last roar of passion before you sink into your emeritus years.  Is that what's left for me? Is that my share? She gets the great winter passion and I get the dotage?" 

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  Too many scripts try to soften the blow for a character's choices.  This script didn't. 

ex. Max jumped for a mirage & he fell.  Hard.

There were no soft landings or cute escapes.

I liked that he truly suffered the consequences of his decisions because that's what makes them REAL, three dimensional characters.

Network (1976)
By Paddy Chayefsky

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