The oft-noted prescience of the infinitely quotable Paddy Chayefsky screenplay goes much deeper than merely prophesizing the onslaught of news-as-entertainment (and its evil spawn, "reality" television)-it’s a blueprint for our age. In the opening scene, drunken buddies Peter Finch (as Howard Beale, respected news anchor soon to suffer a complete mental breakdown and morph into "the mad prophet of the airwaves")and William Holden (as Max Shumacher, head of news division for the fictional "UBS" network) riff cynically on an imaginary pitch for a surefire news rating booster-"Real live suicides, murders, executions-we’ll call it The Death Hour." Funny punch line back in 1976. Sadly, in 2006, we call it "The Nancy Grace Show".
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