Last night, Ivo van Hove’s Broadway play Network held a post-show talk with its main actors Bryan Cranston, Tony Goldwyn and Tatiana Maslany. “Network,” directed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Ivo Van Hove, known from “The Damned,” is based on the award-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky, which won four Academy Awards in 1976. The adaptation was done by Lee Hall and centres around Howard Beale, a news anchor-man who isn’t pulling in the viewers. In his final broadcast, Beale unravels live on screen. But when ratings soar, the network seizes on their newfound populist prophet, and Howard becomes the biggest thing on TV.
When Ivo van Hove initially approached Cranston to star in Network, the legendary actor was not available due to filming commitments and had to turn the role down. Van Hove was coincidentally offered to direct an opera in Amsterdam right after. This delayed the Network production for over a year, which meant Cranston was available again to play the leading role. Network premiered in London and moved to Broadway in 2018. Cranston contacted his old friend Tony Goldwyn to play Max Schumacher, the president of the network’s news department. Van Hove added Tatiana Maslany to the cast, who made her Broadway debut as Diana Christensen, head of network programming.
Even though the film premiered in 1976, its criticism on media and their focus on emotion instead of facts is more relevant than ever. Maslany commented that Network’s explanation of commercializing anger is still applicable 43 years later. Cranston added that Chayefsky accurately predicted people’s obsessions with screens before there even were mobile phones and tablets.