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Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies Hardcover – February 18, 2014
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“Itzkoff's engrossing, unfolding narrative contains the perfect amount of inside-baseball moviemaking stories and anecdotes about stars. It is an inspiring, conflict-driven account of the parade of the indignities and happy accidents that are always present when making a movie, even a great one.” ―Rob Lowe, The New York Times Book Review
“Absorbing and revealing ... [Mad as Hell] garners insights into what made the film enduringly provocative and riveting.” ―USA Today
“Between the time the covers were glued on [Itzkoff's] lively and terrifically detailed account and this very minute, the media world has become more Chayefskyian still.... Itzkoff's narrative is thorough yet brisk as he catalogs the good and the bad that befell Chayefsky and his passion project. It is fortified with vivid anecdotes.” ―The New York Times
“Dave Itzkoff's account of how the brilliant, stubborn, and pugnacious Chayefsky did his research, wrote his script and, ultimately, imposed his vision on the film is elegantly executed.... Itzkoff is right to give Paddy Chayefsky his due as a cultural icon.” ―Ted Koppel, NPR All Things Considered
“Dave Itzkoff's Mad as Hell chronicles not only Chayefsky's arduous efforts to get ‘Network' made but also the influence its several messages have had…Almost 40 years after ‘Network,' we're less mad than distracted, looking to be amused. We could use another Paddy Chayefsky.” ―The Washington Post
“I salute Itzkoff for zooming in at book length on Network.” ―The Atlantic
“Fun … Offers a vivid portrait… [and] great anecdotes.” ―Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
“Dave Itzkoff takes us on an extraordinary journey, and in the process reveals Chayefsky's prognosis for TV, a prognosis we've chosen to ignore even as its come true before our eyes.” ―Forbes
“Mad as Hell … reminds us of that era when the profession of screenwriting was revered, and some top writers could actually get a movie made… Chayefsky brought to films like Hospital and Network both anger and irony -- elements that go missing from Monuments Men.” ―Variety
“Riveting…a compelling portrait.” ―Details
“In Mad as Hell, Itzkoff tells the story, lovingly and in depth, of the creation of a brilliant and important movie that would almost certainly never be made today…. Itzkoff makes a convincing argument that Chayefsky was only using the news as a metaphor to reflect the degeneracy of empathy and decency…. [Howard Beale] deserves to have his story told as deftly as Itzkoff has told it here.” ―The Miami Herald
“Dave Itzkoff's book both meticulously reconstructs the making of the film and sketches, with depth and sensitivity, the complex, troubled life of its screenwriter-creator Paddy Chayefsky.” ―The Daily Beast
“Briskly readable.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Amply researched and highly readable.” ―The Santa Fe New Mexican
“A terrific book by a New York Times writer about a film classic.” ―The Buffalo News
“Itzkoff gives the film its due. More important, he shows just how vital one writer can be.” ―Sioux City Journal
“Mad as Hell … provides an in-depth account of the making of the 1976 film that's particularly impressive because almost four decades have passed since the late screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky brought ‘Network' to the big screen… The three-ring-circus that Beale's newscast morphs into certainly resembles some of the reality shows that fill network schedules today.” ―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Itzkoff digs into every nook and cranny of the film's production--and also interviews contemporary television journalists such as Keith Olbermann, Bill O'Reilly and Anderson Cooper to discuss its impact…This is a very sharp and insightful book…Popular cultural history at its best.” ―Shelf Awareness
“It's a joy to read and should be on the list of students of media and PR….We're all living in Paddy's world. Things won't change until we get as "mad as hell" as Network's crazed visionary Howard Beale.” ―O'Dwyer's
“[A] compellingly told story of the making and cultural effect of the 1976 Hollywood satire of the TV industry [and] a solid behind-the-scenes movie book… Fans of the film will find the book irresistible.” ―Kirkus Review
“Network, the satirical masterpiece that won four Academy Awards in 1976, remains a cultural touchstone…[and in Mad as Hell] Itzkoff peppers his straightforward and balanced narrative with plenty of juicy anecdotes… but Itzkoff's real achievement is in his chilling analysis of Network as prophecydemonstrating through interviews with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert, Bill O'Reilly, and others that Chayefsky's satire has become our reality.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Absorbing… [Chayefsky] kept a passion for the worth of the common person throughout his career, and every insult to human dignity infuriated him… A making-of film book that's also a piquant biography.” ―Booklist
“Dave Itzkoff has written a sensational and definitive book about how the twentieth century's most important screenwriter came to write the twentieth century's most explosive movie. It's a loving and intelligent examination of what happens when talent and skill take common pain and anger and focus it into a magnificent work of art. I believe this is the first thing written about Paddy Chayefsky that Chayefsky would have liked. Watch Network and read this book.” ―Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and The Newsroom and screenwriter of The Social Network
“Network is still a movie worth arguing about, and Dave Itzkoff shows us not just how this movie got made, but how, step by step and line by brilliant, argumentative line, it got written. This is one of the most rewarding books I've read about how a script evolves, and a tough, true and unsparing portrait of an extraordinary writer.” ―Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
“Dave Itzkoff does a terrific job of bringing this signal moment in movie history to life, conveying the larger significance without losing sight of the crazy day-to-day stuff that goes into the process -- the egos, uncertainty, desire, money, and power struggles that make us love to read about movie-making. And he does it all with an intensity and passion Paddy Chayefsky would admire.” ―Julie Salamon, author of The Devil's Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys
“This is that rarest of the ‘biography of a movie' genre: the one that allows you to enjoy, in new ways you never dreamt of, the greatness of a perfect, prophetic film like Network.” ―Keith Olbermann
“Dave Itzkoff's account of the making of Network, Paddy Chayefsky's prescient if mordant x-ray of network news on its way down from its postwar heights to the pabulum it is today, makes for riveting reading.” ―Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and editor of My Lunches with Orson
“The story of Network is the story of a prophetic screenwriter and his unrelenting determination to make the film that would not only change the way we looked at television, but free us to express our anger, individually and collectively. This is more than a book about a seminal movie. It's a book about a seminal moment in American history, told with grace, force, wit, and intelligence.” ―Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning
“This thorough and rousing book reminds us that Paddy Chayefsky, aside from being one of the knockdown smartest individuals Hollywood has ever allowed, ranked with its most visionary. Mad As Hell makes painfully clear how our country's tabloid ethic has only worsened in the years since this Paul Revere of screenwriters saw it coming four decades ago. We should have listened.” ―Sam Wasson, author of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman
“Dave Itzkoff has blessed us with a vivid and richly entertaining account of what goes on inside the making of a hit movie -- the mixture of intrigue, creativity, infighting, and astonishing behavior of the famous and the driven; all of which somehow came together to produce a superb motion picture. Not to be missed.” ―Dick Cavett
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Top Customer Reviews
Chayefsky won me early with "Marty," but both "Hospital," and "Network" were something else: prescient and biting satires perhaps even more telling now than when they were filmed. Back then, many people pooh-poohed "Network" as fantasy. No so much since, as much of what Chayefsky saw has become reality.
"Mad as Hell: The Making of Network," traces Chayefsky's career, but the emphasis is solidly on the making of Network, not the back story. It's a fascinating tale. Not as fascinating as Chayefsky's screenplays, but entertaining and informative all the way. He offers insight into the how the actors, director and everyone involved felt about their roles and the script.
This was Holden's last credible role as a romantic lead, craggy and believable as the Edward R. Murrow type of newsman turned network news exec. Faye Dunaway was troublesome, particularly over her tasteful and brief nude scene, but one thing comes through it all. Paddy Chayefsky didn't let anyone mess with his script, not actors, not the director, not the producers. Who else has had anything like that power as a scriptwriter? Woody Allen, maybe.
The most amazing thing about this book is all the carping from network news people and execs at the time. They were wrong. Chayefsky was right.
During Chayefsky's promotion of the movie to TV hosts and others, when he complained that commercial television diminishes the import of individual lives, no one ever stopped him to ask, "So what would you do to reverse it?" Nor does any character in the movie address such a question; indeed, the film is a litany of rants stemming from rage at this or that. So when Mr. Itzkoff describes negative reactions to Network from contemporaries in the television business, one has to ask whether these people knew that had just seen a satire. If the movie had resolved the elements of the satire to satisfy dramatic requirements, the film would have had a point of view worthy of serious discussion. Even its author had no answers, which is why, in the end, he simply killed off the movie's agitprop.
Over the years, I have prompted many friends to watch the movie or to watch it again. A good number of them, although having reported back to me how much they enjoyed it, also said that they fast-forwarded through Howard Beale's tirades. This is strange, because, among the principal characters, he seemed to be the only one to give a damn about human suffering.
I'm guessing that the reviewers who are trying to downplay NETWORK's impact are either too young to have been around for any of its run or media apologists who live by agendas or misplaced loyalties.
You don't think NETWORK was a prophecy about our media? Did you miss the last ten or fifteen years of GE owning and running NBC? And just that one corporation running a media company is only one example that comes to mind. Paddy Chayefsky in all his deep cynicism and dark humor knew exactly what he was doing. From reading this book, he may not have known the depth of the corruption that would surface in later decades...but, hey, welcome to Paddy's world now.
But I don't want to get too far away from the film itself. NETWORK was one of those films where the best came together to make something really special. Chayefsky's script. Then the cast of Peter Finch, Fay Dunaway, William Holden and Robert Duvall. Then the expert direction of Sidney Lumet. Like other great films of the 1970s (CHINATOWN, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, MASH, JAWS, etc.), NETWORK formed a brilliant vision of a world we thought we knew already.
As a student of film, it was interesting to see how it came together and then how it erupted in the culture and consciousness of that time, right on to this moment in time.
Where are the films like this now?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It has been several years since I enjoyed reading a book as much as I enjoyed reading this one. I have been an admirer of Network since its debut in 1976 and have been fascinated... Read morePublished 10 months ago by ecolescaup
Must read if you are a fan of the movie. A lot of back story on the writer and production of the movie.Published 12 months ago by J Eric Hoehn
Great anticipated this book -- still haven't read it but great service. thanksPublished 13 months ago by Max Espinoza
Awesome book!! I heard about it on NPR, NETWORK is one of my all time favorites movies. Its amazing reading and visualizing all the behind the scenes work behind how the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by George R Lewycky
Love the film. The book isn't very insightful. It is repetitive though. Finished it but got bored along the way.Published 16 months ago by Bruce Nachbar
In the lingo of journalists, Mr. Itzkoff buried the lead. In fact, he got the whole thing backwards. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mr. Seth
After seeing Network more than a dozen times, I felt as if I knew the principals already, so reading this book felt like I was at the meetings and on the set. Nice job.Published 17 months ago by Kevin J. Bouffard
Network stands as a watershed moment in American cinema. It is by turns darkly absurd, full of heartbreaking rage and frighteningly prescient about the future of television. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Angelle Gullett
Fascinating book on the making of this brilliant film penned by the turbulent, caustic, and soulful Paddy Chayefsky. Read morePublished 18 months ago by bsomers