In 1976, an American satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, called Network, about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings, starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall and Beatrice Straight was nominated for 12 Academy Awards including best film, best director and best editor. Network, won four Academy Awards, including Oscars for Chayefsky’s script, Beatrice Straights’ performance as an outraged wife, Faye Dunaway’s performance as a cynical programming executive and Peter Finch’s frenetic portrayal of Howard Beale, the troubled “mad prophet of the airwaves.”
Thirty-five years later, Network remains an incendiary if an influential film, and its screenplay is still admired as much for its predictive accuracy as for its vehemence and a relentless sense of purpose. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, cited Chayefsky when he accepted his Oscar for the screenplay of “The Social Network,” and wrote later that “no predictor of the future — not even Orwell — has ever been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote ‘Network.’ ”
Alan Heim, the picture editor of the film, Mark Laub, one from a team of sound editors, Michael Jacobi and Jeffrey Wolf, the first assistant editor and the apprentice editor on the film at the time, tell their stories of how the film came together and what it was like in various stages working with director Sidney Lumet, writer Paddy Chayefsky and Producer Howard Gottfried.