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Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  330 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the iconic movie Network, which transformed the way we think about television and the way television thinks about us

“I’m mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!”

Those words, spoken by an unhinged anchorman named Howard Beale, “the mad prophet of the airwaves,” took America by storm in 1976, when Network became a sen
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Times Books
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Carol Storm
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
As a total film nut I really had mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, David Itzkoff fills this book with fascinating gossip on some of my favorite Seventies movie stars, such as William Holden and Faye Dunaway. And the sections that describe how the movie NETWORK was actually filmed and put together are absolutely fascinating. On the other hand, I never bought any of the major arguments that Itzkoff makes in this book. To give you some examples:

I never bought into the premise that NETWO
Richard Kramer
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Scrupulous, perceptive, impeccably reported and presented with just the right amount of appreciative distance.
Paddy Chayefsky comes to wild, crazy, tragic life on the page, and Itzkoff brilliantly shows how everything in his life led
to NETWORK and how nothing else that followed could ever match it, not for success (although he died not long after) but
as a vehicle in which he could capture all the tensions and wild anger that made him -- and television -- what they are.
He went too far, he talked
Rebecca McNutt
Network, made in the late Seventies at a time when the news industry was taking a big shift towards exploitative news and "fluff" news, took the world by storm when it first came out, especially the depressed, mentally unbalanced anchorman who decides to stir things up on television before he is fired. This intriguing book analyzes the film in depth, connects it to cases in reality such as the infamous Christine Chubbuck suicide-on-live-TV in 1974, and it also discusses how Network became such a ...more
Dave Donahoe
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, cinema
Read as a first reads selection.

An excellent review of the making of one of the most prescient films ever made. The author uses Network as a springboard to examine the life and career of Paddy Chayefsky, the divisive screenwriter of Network and, 20 years earlier, Marty. Chayefsky was an uncompromising figure with an intense vision of his art, and the world in which he existed.

Itzkoff explains Chayefsky's writing methods and his incredible talent for self editing. He would write comments to himse
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved "Mad as Hell." When I first learned that a book had been written about the making of the movie "Network," I was anxious to read it. "Network" is one of my top favorite films of all time. I love the direction by Sidney Lumet, one of my favorite directors. I also enjoy the performances by the cast, especially Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Beatrice Straight, Robert Duvall, and Ned Beatty. And, I love the brilliant screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky. Because of my longtime enjoyment ...more
Lee Anne
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A decent exploration of the making of the movie "Network." If you've never seen it, do so.

I liked this book enough that I had weird dreams related to the movie (more than one, even), and although it took me a little bit to adapt to Iszkoff's writing style, it flowed well and told me a great deal that I didn't know about Paddy Chayefsky. It also led me to look up new things and revisit old favorite things related to the movie (Faye Dunaway's post-Oscar photo, for example).

My only complaint, and
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating detailed look at the development and making of one of the most important films of the 1970’s. At the time, much of what the film had predicted seemed far too out, but unfortunately with the advent of reality TV and so-called Action News has come true. No longer a satire but the real thing. I do wish the author spent more time on director Sidney Lumet, but that is a minor complaint.
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Some solid research. Skip the last third, apparently his editor told him to pad it out with a dull essay on how Network predicted O'Reilly, Lady Gaga, and of course, the Higgs Boson particle.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book only added to my admiration of what is my favorite movie.
Brad Hodges
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it

There are movie lines that live forever, and their creation is usually some kind of alchemy. For instance, the line "I'm as made as hell,and I'm not going to take this anymore!" came to writer Paddy Chayefsky, but he never thought it would stick in pop culture. Fortunately, for those who have seen it and loved it, as I have, there is more to his film Network than just that line.

Dave Itzkoff tells the story of Network, soup to nuts, in his book, titled of course, Mad As Hell: The Making of Networ
Paul Lyons
Sometimes interesting, yet fairly disappointing look at the making of the classic 1976 film NETWORK. Considering the amount of research and access to material author David Itzkoff had, I was expecting " Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies" to be a riveting, page-turner of a non-fiction book...chronicling the making of one of my favorite films. Perhaps my expectations were too high, as instead of being riveted, I was occasionally engaged, and of ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I first decided to review this book I wondered if something written about its making would be interesting to read as the movie was as great to watch. It was. Dave Izkoff takes an intriguing look at the many factors and subplots that went into making this iconic picture. From Paddy Chayefsky's conceptual ideas, to the casting of the characters, to the nuts and bolts of putting the film together by director Sydney Lumet.

"Network" came out of the turbulent 70's, the era that gave us the cultur
Patrick Justo
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
It's a find book about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the making of the movie Network. The author has done some amazing research, based on interviews with friends and colleagues of Paddy Chayefsky, as well as an thorough search of Chayefsky's papers. (He raises an interesting possibility that a prank by Mel Brooks, one of Paddy's friends, might have been the initial acorn that sprouted into Network.)

This book is an interesting historical document, so you should read it for that. What
Malcolm Frawley
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I haven't seen Network for many years now (why don't I have it on DVD?) but it is 1 of the best films of the 1970s. I recommend this terrific biog of the film & its principle players to all film buffs. It begins with screen writer, Paddy Chayefsky, & how he went about constructing his brilliant satire & continues through the process of making the film. Unusually, perhaps uniquely, Paddy had all the power throughout the production & was present on set every day with director, Sidn ...more
Patrick Nichol
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book that should be required reading in Journalism schools and film studies programs alike.
Author Dave Itzkoff has crafted a fascinating examination of one of the most important movies of the 1970s. Who hasn't watched fictional newsman Howard Beale's on-air meltdown, exhorting viewers to shout : " I'm as mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
Itzkoff takes you behind the scenes of renowned screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's masterpiece in a "you are there" approach. Yo
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, giveaway
This is a Goodreads Giveaway. I received this book on Monday Dec. 16th and finished it Dec. 17th. It was fantastic! I really enjoyed "Network" the movie when it came out and this behind the scenes look at its making is superb. It was a delight to be introduced to the writer and his back ground which led to such an amazing movie. I still don't know how it was made considering its content and the writers demands for control. That doesn't happen in Hollywood. I remember the sour grapes attitude tha ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
That the movie "Network" was prescient is an acceptable truth today. As a former television news producer and manager, I remember my bosses railing against the film when it came out in 1976 and declaiming how wrong-headed it was. Fast forward to 2014, and much of what Paddy Chayefksy envisioned for television is here.

Dave Itzkoff combines a biographical approach to the screen-writer with the behind-the-scenes view of both movie-making and television news to present a detailed account of how the
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly engaging and compelling account of the Oscar winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and the making of "Network", from its putative origins through to its critical reception and lasting cultural imprint. What the text lacks in depth is more than made up in its breadth. The research is expansive; Dave Itzkoff, the author, weaves cast and crew recollections, Chayefsky's personal papers, trade publications, film criticism, and media professional interviews into an illuminating tapestry - no ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
Brief, entertaining biography of lauded screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and the inspiration, tumult and behind the scenes events of the filming of the 1976 movie NETWORK. Chayefsky's reputation was as someone who took no bullsh*t and the book gives lots of examples of that and how he wielded his power in Hollywood when it was very rare for writers to gain the control he had. Mostly, power goes to directors, producers, actors, the heads of studios--writers are usually the lowest level of the power t ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at Network, one of the most audacious movies ever to come out of a major studio. But this also serves as a sorta back door biography of Paddy Chayefsky, an incredible writer and character to boot. The amount of research unearthed here is simply staggering and it's a must for any fan of the movie. Most of the major players in the movie meet with tragic ends whether it's a career or literally dying as Peter Finch so famously did. It even gets into the nuts and bolts of Oscar nig ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A well-researched, well-written, invaluable chronicle of the making of arguably the most legitimately prophetic movie ever made, with great insights into the life and mind of the brilliant Paddy Chayevsky.

If Itzkoff's book has a flaw, it's that it progressively loses steam in the third act. The book climaxes with the death of Peter Finch and his posthumously awarded Best Actor Oscar, after which it begins its long, winding descent to the end. Reading about the aftermath and lasting influence of
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A brilliant film, meticulously written by an irascible collaborator and consummate control freak. Itzkoff plunges into the voluminous Paddy Chayefsky archive, and took some juicy interviews with many of the principals who are still with us. The closing chapter, assessing Chayefsky's legacy and the clarity of his prophetic vision, is quite good.

Sidney Lumet was a saint.
Stu West
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've never held the movie Network in the high esteem others seem to. It's well-acted and there are a lot of good lines, but I don't think it's particularly perceptive about the media and there's a romance subplot which feels to me like it was written by an out of touch old man. David Itzkoff's making-of book (which is really an overview of screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's career with particular focus on the mid-70s to his death in 1981) is entertaining, insightful and surprisingly funny in places. ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked reading about the inner working of Hollywood and how this film got made. I did not appreciate Itzkoff's blatant sexism. He totally dismisses Faye Dunaway as a vain demanding woman. He is writing a book on the polarizing Paddy Chayefsky who he lionizes. Dunaway is a great actress and Chayefsky is a great writer and they are both very difficult people. It is just funny to me how Itzkoff doesn't see how he is maligning Dunaway for the same reasons he is praising Chayefsky. It's troubling wh ...more
Rich P
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alonside "Pictures of a Revolution," this is very much one of the best "Making of..." books I have ever read. The book reads at a great clip and is about as detailed as anything I have ever read. Some of the book's "surprises" have been detailed elsewhere, but I am not going to do it here. I think the only thing Itzkoff has overlooked is the influence that an earlier film, Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd," with its observations on the importance and possible misuse of the media, may have had on Cha ...more
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
As fascinating as this is about the making of Network, it's the first 75 or so pages that are worth the price. Getting an insight on Paddy Chayefsky is invaluable to understanding the movie, and the examination of his preparation and writing processes is essential reading for anyone in film or fiction. Oh, there's the requisite gossip, too, but the author also offers a really insightful cultural analysis of the work that makes it both of-its-time as well as relevant in the contemporary context. ...more
Daniel Sloyan
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's more than just the making of network, it's also a look at paddy chayefsky's life, and how angry and troubled he was and how that influenced his writing Network, and then onto his career after Network as well. I hadn't known the full extent of the controversy surrounding the film when it came out. It also goes into depth about each of the main 3 actors' lives as well. I wish more time was spent on the actual filming of the movie, but I guess there weren't a whole lot of problems so there wou ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Chapter's was a tremendous writer and social critic. he wrote the movie Network , among others. This book tells the story of the making of the movie and works as a biography of Chayefsky. I enjoyed the book because I lived the writing in Network and because I had recently read the biography of Bob Fosse which mentioned Chayefsky since he was one of Force's best friends. Actually the Fosse book made Paddy amore interesting than did this book, hence four stars. Still recommended.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
In which the attitudes of the US networks (and the NYSE) toward the script was such that the crew had to shoot the studio shots in Canada; Faye Dunaway is a pain in the arse, William Holden is a perfect gentleman, and Robert Duvall does primal screams and moons people to get into character. Also, Pauline Kael's review at the time cements my long-held view that she really could be the right fuckwit a lot of the time.

And Sidney Lumet was a fast worker, ahead of time and under budget - "It looks a
Michael Grasso
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic look at the making of Network and American society when it was released. Two terrific bits from late in the book: the recuperation of Chayefsky's depiction of Howard Beale into the Spectacle (with his famous lines becoming a parody of themselves, being used in commercials, etc., after the death of Peter Finch) and a detailed description of Chayefsky's research into the fringe science of John C. Lilly for his next project after Network, the novel Altered States.
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“I want you people to get mad—You don’t have to organize or vote for reformers—You just have to get mad—” 0 likes
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