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The ultimate BROADCAST JOURNALIST movies

Movies . . . one profession at a time
By RYAN STEWART  |  March 10, 2006

MAD AS HELL, and not going to take it anymore: Peter Finch in NetworkJudging from the handful of movies made on the subject, filmmakers have little apparent use for the television business. Even accounting for the historical tension between the two, dating back to the days when Hollywood feared the small screen would put them out of business, the movies have been especially hard on broadcast journalism. The ladies and gentlemen who deliver the news are portrayed as craven, vacuous, self-absorbed, and opportunistic, often with hilarious results.

Network (1976)
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. . ." (read the rest here)

Sometimes you watch a movie from the '70s and it's so dated you can't suspend your disbelief. This does not happen to contemporary media consumers who watch Network. An anchor (Peter Finch) gets fired and, upon learning of his dismissal, announces that he's going to kill himself on the air. The brain trust – including an executive played by William Holden – thinks he should go ahead with it for the ratings. [Spoiler alert ahead.] Finch doesn't, but his on-air rants and subsequent popularity helps turn the fictional network into a world of talking heads spouting populist sentiments ad infinitum – my God, it's almost as if they're trying to tell you what to think! – resulting in a Nielsen triumph. Add that bleakly prophetic vision to great performances – the film won took home Oscars for best actor, actress, and supporting actress, including a posthumous trophy to Finch, who died before he was nominated – and you've got the clear-cut winner.

Honorable mention:

Anchorman (2004)
"You stay classy, San Diego"

Anchorman is light, it's fluffy, it's wickedly funny, and fun to quote. Not an Oscar contender. But Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamblind (Steve Carell), Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) are all first ballot inductees into the Hall of Fame for brilliant movie character names.

To Die For (1995)
"You aren't really anybody in America if you're not on TV."

Gus Van Sant directed Nicole Kidman as an aspiring TV anchorwoman who seduces three young men to kill her husband. Based on the Pam Smart case (which put New Hampshire on the famous-murderesses map), the film helped introduce the world to a young man named Joaquin Phoenix.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a self-absorbed asshole weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over again (just go with it, okay?) in a rustic Pennsylvania hamlet until he realizes the value in other people, wins the heart of Rita (Andie MacDowell) and solves the problems of all of the townspeople. Keep an ear out for Delbert McClinton's classic "I'm Your Weatherman" over the opening credits.

NOT OSCAR MATERIAL: But thanks for stoppin' byBroadcast News (1987)
"Let's never forget, we're the real story, not them."

Not as cutting in its satire as Network, and not as funny as Anchorman, this one still gives great banter — arising from a love triangle between two broadcast reporters (Albert Brooks and William Hurt) and a producer (Holly Hunter).

Good Night, And Good Luck (2005)
"We will not walk in fear of one another"

George Clooney's Oscar-nominated film takes a look at Edward R. Murrow's battle on two fronts – one against the Communist witch hunt led by Senator Eugene McCarthy, and one against the head honcho of CBS who kept trying to keep the sponsors happy. This is, interestingly enough, the only film on this list that portrays broadcasters in a largely positive light.

Wayne's World (1992)
"I have all your shows on tape – like I said, I'm a fan."

We didn't say they had to be network broadcasters. Your mom's couch, a mullet, and a community-access slot will do in a pinch. A segment with the dude who invented the Suck Cut and the owner of Noah's Arcade qualifies as journalism, in our book – it's about as hard-hitting as some of the stuff they show on the news these days. Wayne and Garth learn that you can make money doing what you want without sacrificing your integrity. But you and I both knew that there was no film in that camera.


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  Topics: Ultimate Lists , Peter Finch , TV News Shows , Media ,  More more >
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