×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway’s ‘Network’

A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home.

“It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who adapted the screenplay for the stage. “That’s the tragedy behind the play, and that’s why it was worth revisiting.” For Hall, the transfer from the National Theatre in London to the Belasco in New York has thrown those differences into even starker relief: “We’re a few blocks away from Fox News, half a mile away from Trump Tower – this is a very, very different reality than the one we played in London.”

Having idolized “Network” screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky for decades, Hall saw his job as that of “Paddy’s number one fan” as well as his interpreter. “I went to look at a lot of his writing that didn’t get used in the film, and things he wrote after the event, and I tried to embroider that into the screenplay,” he explained. “It’s been a sort of laboratory job of just trying to fit everything together and also give it the benefit of his own hindsight – things he said about it that he would like to clarify. It’s been a job of curation as much as writing.”

When Hall first revisited the screenplay years ago, he realized it was “made for the theater” – and thousands of miles away, Tony Goldwyn came to the same conclusion at the same time. He’d been asked to take part in one of Jason Reitman’s legendary Live Reads at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, reading for Max Schumaker (the role he’s now playing on Broadway) opposite Aaron Sorkin as Howard Beale. “We had a great cast, a great audience, and we had a lot of fun, and I said, ‘This is a piece of theater,’” Goldwyn told Variety.

He immediately called his agent to ask who had the rights to the 1976 film, only to learn that Ivo van Hove was about to stage it in London. When Bryan Cranston emailed to say they’d love to have him for the New York transfer, he couldn’t refuse – even if it meant being written out of the final episode of “Chambers” to make the dates work.

So, what made the script so irresistible? “The biggest thing to me is this idea of anger,” Goldwyn said. “I think anger has become the currency in our current culture, our media, our politics – and it’s been there, but President Trump really made it into a tradeable currency. It’s been given free license, and it’s very, very dangerous. This play is a testament to that.”

Van Hove agreed. “‘Mad as hell,’” he said, quoting Beale’s famous catchphrase. “People are mad as hell all over the world. Fake news, news becoming infotainment – all the elements are there. For me, it became so relevant for today.”

For Tatiana Maslany, who plays ambitious TV exec Diana, the story has remained unfortunately timely in another way. “With Diana’s character specifically – we would think that we’re past the point where we need to see a ferocious young woman who’s going after what she wants, but that still is a revolutionary character,” Maslany told Variety. “She’s still banging her head against the wall of men who are like, ‘We’re going to keep the status quo and do the thing we know is good,’ even when she knows she can do something better.”

Cranston was likewise attracted to the production for its resonance today. The “Breaking Bad” star explained that when he’s deciding which projects to take on, “I don’t look at it from a sense of the medium. I don’t go, ‘I wanna do more TV’ or ‘I wanna do a play.’ I look at it from a sense of what is available to me: ‘What is the story? Is it compelling? Is it important? Am I moved by it?’ And if those answers are yes, then I’m interested.”

“Network” met all of those criteria. “We’re in a world that is reverberating with the messaging that Paddy Chayefsky put forth – about being addicted to our technology, about fake news, about trusting one source for your news, about not reading, not investigating,” Cranston said. “It encompasses so much, and he does it in such an entertaining way – I couldn’t refuse.”

More Film

  • Woolsey Fire Malibu

    Many Malibu Areas Still Off-Limits for Filming After Fire

    The California Film Commission has maintained its ban on filming in several Malibu areas hit by the massive Woolsey fire in Southern California last month. The commission announced Tuesday that due to continued clean-up and repair work along Pacific Coast Highway, permits for filming on the highway are not being issued at this time. PCH [...]

  • Against the Clock

    Film News Roundup: Andy Garcia's Spy Thriller 'Against the Clock' Bought by Gravitas

    In today’s film news roundup, Andy Garcia’s spy thriller is sold, “Battlestar Galactica” gets a screenwriter, and Brooklyn Decker gets an award. ACQUISITION Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to spy thriller “Against the Clock,” starring Andy Garcia, Dianna Agron (“Glee”), and Justin Bartha, Variety has learned exclusively. Related Russian Disinformation Campaign Aimed to [...]

  • 'Pacific Rim Uprising' film premiere

    John Boyega in Talks to Star in Legal Drama 'A Naked Singularity'

    “Star Wars” actor John Boyega is in talks to star in the legal drama “A Naked Singularity” with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions on board to produce. The movie is based on Sergio De La Pava’s debut novel, which centers on a successful New York public defender whose life begins to unravel after he loses [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Outpacing 'Wonder Woman' in Fandango Pre-Sales

    Pre-sales of “Aquaman,” which opens on Thursday night, are outpacing “Wonder Woman” at the same point in the advance ticket sales cycle on online ticketer Fandango. “Wonder Woman” opened with $103 million domestically during the June 2 to June 4, 2017, weekend on its way to a $412 million North American total for Warner Bros. “Aquaman,” [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Box Office: 'Aquaman,' 'Mary Poppins Returns'

    Box Office: 'Aquaman' Battles 'Mary Poppins Returns' in Crowded Holiday Weekend

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the most competitive time at the multiplexes. This weekend sees two very different heroes vying for the box office crown with “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” both eyeing sizable debuts. “Mary Poppins Returns” is getting a head start by opening on Wednesday, though estimates show “Aquaman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content