Reality has finally surpassed 'Network's' satire

Way back in 1976, screenwriter <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB000953" title="Paddy Chayefsky" href="/topic/entertainment/paddy-chayefsky-PECLB000953.topic">Paddy Chayefsky</a> created a scathing look at network television, where a recently laid-off news anchor (in <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="EVHST000005" title="Academy Awards" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/academy-awards-EVHST000005.topic">an Oscar</a>-winning turn by <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB001685" title="Peter Finch" href="/topic/entertainment/peter-finch-PECLB001685.topic">Peter Finch</a>) has an on-air breakdown and becomes a populist sensation, whose rantings earn him the title "Mad Prophet of the Airwaves." Unfortunately for Beale, his rants uncover a secret connection between the network he works for and Saudi Arabian businesses, which results in his assassination.<br>
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Today, we get on-air ranters like <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB00177647" title="Glenn Beck" href="/topic/arts-culture/mass-media/news-media/glenn-beck-PECLB00177647.topic">Glenn Beck</a>, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="NY050920082605" title="Sean Hannity" href="/topic/arts-culture/mass-media/news-media/sean-hannity-NY050920082605.topic">Sean Hannity</a>, Bill O'Reilly, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB0004355" title="Keith Olbermann" href="/topic/entertainment/television/keith-olbermann-PECLB0004355.topic">Keith Olbermann</a> and, until recently, Lou Dobbs. No matter how loopy they get on the air, their networks seem to love them.<br>
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<i>-- Patrick Kevin Day, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/">latimes.com</a></i>
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( MGM )

Way back in 1976, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky created a scathing look at network television, where a recently laid-off news anchor (in an Oscar-winning turn by Peter Finch) has an on-air breakdown and becomes a populist sensation, whose rantings earn him the title "Mad Prophet of the Airwaves." Unfortunately for Beale, his rants uncover a secret connection between the network he works for and Saudi Arabian businesses, which results in his assassination.

Today, we get on-air ranters like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann and, until recently, Lou Dobbs. No matter how loopy they get on the air, their networks seem to love them.

-- Patrick Kevin Day, latimes.com

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