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Network (1976) movie script
by Paddy Chayefsky.More info about this movie on IMDb.com
Revised, January 14, 1976.
1. BLACK SCREEN
This story is about Howard Beale
who was the network news anchorman on
A BANK OF FOUR COLOR TELEVISION ON MONITORS
It is 7:14 P.M., Monday, September 22, 1975, and we are
watching the network news programs on CBS, NBC, ABC and
UBS-TV, the network of our story. The AUDIO is OFF;
and head shots of WALTER CRONKITE, JOHN CHANCELLOR,
HOWARD K. SMITH and HARRY REASONER, and of course,
the anchorman of our network, HOWARD BEALE, silently
flit and flicker across the four television screens,
interspersed with the news of the day -- President
Ford's new Energy Program, a hearing on Patty Hearst's
bail, truce violations in Beirut, busing trouble in
Boston.... NARRATION continues OVER --
-- in his time, Howard Beale had
been a mandarin of television, the
grand old man of news, with a HUT
rating of 16 and a 28 audience
CAMERA MOVES IN to isolate HOWARD BEALE, who is
everything an anchorman should be -- 58 years old
silver-haired, magisterial, dignified to the point of
divinity. NARRATION continues OVER --
-- in 1969, however, he fell to a
22 share, and, by 1972, he was
down to a 15 share. In 1973, his
wife died, and he was left a
childless widower with an 8 rating
and a 12 share. He became morose
and isolated, began to drink
heavily, and, on September 22,
1975, he was fired, effective in
two weeks. The news was broken to
him by Max Schumacher --
2. EXT. 5TH AVE. SOUTH OF 57TH STREET - NIGHT
11:30 P.M. The area is deserted except for a few
STROLLERS window-shopping the department stores.
And way down near 55th Street, TWO roaring drunk middle-
aged men, HOWARD BEALE and MAX SCHUMACHER, reeling
along and hooting it up. NARRATION continues OVER --
-- who was president of the News
Division at UBS and an old friend.
The two men got properly pissed --
CLOSER SHOT of HOWARD and MAX (who is a craggy,
lumbering, rough-hewn, 51-year-old man), thoroughly
plastered and on a drunken laughing jag --
(clutching the corner
mailbox to keep from
When was this?
I was at CBS with Ed Murrow in
1951. Didn't you join Murrow
in 1951? --
Must've been 1950 then. I was at
NBC. Morning News. Associate
producer. I was a kid, twenty-six
years old. Anyway, they were
building the lower level on the
George Washington Bridge, and we
were doing a remote there. Except
nobody told me! --
For some reason, this knocks them out. HOWARD, wheezing
with suppressed laughter, clutches the mailbox. MAX has
to shout to get the rest of the story out --
-- ten after seven in the morning -- I
get a call -- "Where the hell are
you? -- You're supposed to be on the
George Washington Bridge!" -- I jump
out of bed -- throw my raincoat
over my pajamas -- run down the
stairs -- I get out in the street --
I flag a cab -- I jump in -- I say:
"Take me to the middle of the George
Washington Bridge!" --
It's too much again. The TWO MEN dissolve into silent
wheezing spasms of laughter --
(tears streaming down
-- the driver turns around --
he says -- don't do it, buddy --
(so weak now he can
-- he says -- you're a young man --
you got your whole life ahead
of you --
He can't go on. He stomps around on the sidewalk.
HOWARD clutches the mailbox.
3. INT. A BAR - 3:00 A.M.
Any bar. Mostly empty. MAX and HOWARD in a booth,
so sodden drunk they are sober --
I'm going to kill myself --
Oh, shit, Howard --
I'm going to blow my brains out
right on the air, right in the
middle of the seven o'clock news.
You'll get a hell of a rating,
I'll tell you that, a fifty
share easy --
You think so?
We could make a series out of it.
Suicide of the Week. Hell, why
limit ourselves? Execution of the
Week -- the Madame Defarge Show!
Every Sunday night, bring your
knitting and watch somebody get
guillotined, hung, electrocuted,
gassed. For a logo, we'll have
some brute with a black hood over
his head. Think of the spin-offs
-- Rape of the Week --
(beginning to get
caught up in the idea)
Terrorist of the Week?
How about Coliseum '74? Every
week we throw some Christians
to the lions! --
Fantastic! The Death Hour! I
love it! Suicides, assassinations,
mad bombers, Mafia hitmen, murder
in the barbershop, human sacrifices
in witches' covens, automobile
smashups. The Death Hour! A
great Sunday night show for the
whole family. We'll wipe fucking
Disney right off the air --
They snigger and snort. HOWARD lays his head down on
the booth's table and verges on sleep --
4. INT. HOWARD'S BEDROOM - 4:30 A.M. - DARK
HOWARD, fully clothed, sprawled asleep on his still-
covered bed in the dark bedroom. Suddenly, he sits bolt
upright, SCREAMING out against unseen terrors --
5. INT. HOWARD'S APARTMENT HOUSE - LANDING OUTSIDE HIS
DOOR - 8:00 A.M. - TUESDAY, SEPT. 24
-- as HOWARD'S HOUSEKEEPER, a middle-aged lady, lets
INT. HOWARD'S APARTMENT - ENTRANCE FOYER
The HOUSEKEEPER, unbuttoning her coat, is greeted by
the sound of a raucous clock ALARM, relentlessly
BUZZING O.S. She crosses the --
INT. LIVING ROOM
-- and opens the blinds letting in an eruption of
daylight. The shrill BUZZING getting louder, she
proceeds into the --
INT. BACK FOYER
-- where she pauses to look into the bedroom, the door
being ajar; the BUZZING is coming from here --
HOUSEKEEPER'S P.O.V -- HOWARD BEALE,
still wearing the clothes he wore last night, curled
in a position of fetal helplessness on the floor in
the far corner of the room --
(after a moment)
Are you all right, Mr. Beale?
(opens one eye)
I'm fine, thank you, Mrs.
With some effort, he contrives to get to his feet as
the HOUSEKEEPER crosses to the alarm clock and turns
it off --
6. CREDITS AND MUSIC ERUPT ONTO THE SCREEN
"N E T W O R K"
UNDER AND INTERSPERSED WITH CREDITS, a montage of
scenes, occasionally audible, on this seemingly
routine day --
7. INT. HOWARD BEALE'S OFFICE - 5TH FLOOR - 9:20 A.M.
A small, unpretentious office, cluttered with books,
magazines, periodicals, photographs and awards on the
walls, various mementos here and there. HOWARD
(necktied and in shirtsleeves), behind his desk,
rattling away his copy for that evening's broadcast
on his typewriter -- pauses to pour himself a quick
shot of Scotch --
8. INT. THE NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM - ROOM 517 - 10:30 A.M.
The common room off which Howard's office debouches. A
large room compactly filled with the desks of producers,
associate producers, head writer and writers, production
assistants, etc. The walls are festooned like bulletin
boards with sheaves of newspaper pages and cutouts and
reams of wire releases (there are two wire machines in a
corner). Large blowups of HOWARD BEALE are prominently
displayed. There are small, shelved libraries of books,
directories and magazines here and there. And the
ever-present bank of four television monitors; and,
Since it is 10:30 A.M., Tuesday, September 23, 1975,
and, since the AUDIO is OFF, the screens silently
flicker with whatever was on that day at that time.
HOWARD comes out of his office, crosses through the
general HUM of informal industry, an occasional
TYPEWRITER CLACKING, a more than occasional phone
ringing, as the Nightly News Room PERSONNEL, all in
their 20's and 30's, move, MURMUR, confer about their
businesses. HOWARD BEALE makes for a ledge of reference
books to check out some fact. He spread the reference
book out on an unoccupied desk. SOMEONE in b.g. tells
him he's wanted on the phone. He nods, takes the call
at the desk he is at. Throughout, he belts away at his
glass of booze --
9. INT. OFFICE OF THE EXEC. PRODUCER OF UBS - NETWORK NEWS -
UBS BUILDING - 5TH FLOOR - 1:00 P.M. - TUESDAY
Another smallish office debouching off the main room
like Howard's, absolutely jammed with nine PEOPLE, a
couple of them standing, the others sitting wherever
they can. The executive producer, HARRY HUNTER (early
40's), is behind the desk. HOWARD BEALE sits on the
small, Finnish modern couch, flanked by an ASSOCIATE
PRODUCER and a MAN from the Graphics Department. Aside
from BEALE and HUNTER, everybody else is in their 20's
or early 30's, and, with the same exceptions, they're
all casually dressed. This is the daily run-down
meeting at which the schedule for that evening's
broadcast is roughed out, and it sounds something like
(reaching for the bottle of
booze on HUNTER'S desk to
refill his glass)
-- let's do the Lennon deportation
at the end of three --
That strong enough to bump?
(sipping his booze)
In one then, I'll do a lead on
Sarah Jane Moore to Mayberry in
San Francisco --
The film I saw was the Chief
of Detectives --
I think we got maybe ten seconds
on the shooting itself --
The whole thing is one-twenty-five --
What does that come out?
About four-fifty --
Are we using Squeaky Fromme?
Let's do that in two -- Squeaky --
Ford at the airport - bump. Now.
we using a map going into San
I prefer a news-pix --
HOWARD pours himself another shot of booze and sips it --
What've we got left?
Gun control, Patty Hearst affidavit,
guerillas in Chad, OPEC in Vienna --
10. INT. 4TH FLOOR CORRIDOR - UBS BUILDING - 6:28 P.14. -
LOOKING INTO the small network-news make-up room where
HOWARD BEALE is standing, Kleenex tucked into his shirt
collar, getting a few last whisks from the MAKE-UP
LADY. Finished, HOWARD pulls the Kleenex from his
collar, takes a last sip from a glass of booze on the
make-up shelf, gathers his papers and exits, turns and
11. INT. NETWORK NEWS STUDIO - 4TH FLOOR.
Typical Newsroom studio -- cameras, cables, wall
maps, flats and propping, etc. HOWARD nods, smiles to
various PERSONNEL -- CAMERAMEN, ASSISTANT DIRECTORS,
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS -- as he makes his way to his desk
facing Camera One. He sits, prepares his papers, looks
up to the control room, nods --
MUSIC ABRUPTLY OUT:
END OF CREDITS:
12. INT. CONTROL ROOM - 4th FLOOR
The clock wall reads: 6:30. Typical control room. A
room-length double bank of television monitors including
two color monitor screens, the show monitor and the
pre-set monitor. Before this array of TV screens sits
the DIRECTOR, flanked on his left by the PRODUCTION
ASSISTANT (GIRL) who stop-watches the show, and on his
right by the TECHNICAL DIRECTOR who operates a special
board of buttons and knobs. (On the TECHNICAL
DIRECTOR's right sits the LIGHTING DIRECTOR). At the
moment, the show monitor has the network's Washington
correspondent, JACK SNOWDEN, doing a follow-up on the
attempted assassination of President Ford in San
SNOWDEN (ON MONITOR)
-- the first attempt on President
Ford's life was eighteen days ago --
and again yesterday in San Francisco --
(murmuring into his mike)
-- Lou, kick that little thing shut
on ground level --
SNOWDEN (ON MONITOR)
-- In spite of two attempts --
The show monitor screen has switched over to show film
of President Ford arriving at the San Francisco airport --
SNOWDEN (V.O. ON MONITOR)
-- Mr. Ford says he will not become --
-- forty seconds --
(murmurs into mike)
-- twenty seconds to one --
-- one --
HOWARD BEALE'S image suddenly flips on-screen --
-- thirty seconds to commercial freeze --
-- head roll --
The DIRECTOR and TECHNICAL DIRECTOR turn in their seats
to join HARRY HUNTER and his SECRETARY in a brief
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Ladies and gentlemen, I would
like at this moment to announce
that I will be retiring from
this program in two weeks' time
because of poor ratings --
The DIRECTOR has whispered something to HARRY HUNTER'S
SECRETARY which occasions sniggers from the SECRETARY
and from HARRY HUNTER. The TECHNICAL DIRECTOR stands to
get in on the joke --
-- what'd you say? --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- and since this show was the
only thing I had going for me
in my life, I have decided to
kill myself --
HARRY HUNTER'S SECRETARY murmurs something which causes
HARRY HUNTER to burst into laughter --
(to the DIRECTOR)
-- so what'd she say? --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- I'll tell you what I'm going
to do. I'm going to blow my brains
out right on this program a week
from today --
(frowning and very puzzled
indeed by this diversion
from the script)
-- ten seconds to commercial --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- so tune in next Tuesday. That'll
give the public relations people a
week to promote the show, and we
ought to get a hell of a rating
with that, a fifty share easy --
A bewildered PRODUCTION ASSISTANT nudges the DIRECTOR,
who wheels back to his mike --
-- and --
(to the DIRECTOR)
Listen, did you hear that? --
The monitor screen erupts into a commercial for cat
(leaning in from his
What was that about?
(to the DIRECTOR)
Howard just said he was going to
blow his brains out next Tuesday.
What're you talking about?
Didn't you hear him? He just said --
What's wrong now?
Howard just said he was going to
kill himself next Tuesday.
What do you mean Howard just
said he was going to kill himself
(nervously riffling through
He was supposed to do a tag on
Ron Nesson and into commercial --
(from his doorway)
He said tune in next Tuesday, I'm
going to shoot myself --
Everybody's attention is now on the double bank of
black-and-white monitor screens showing various parts
of the studio, all of which show agitated behavior.
Several of the screens show HOWARD at his desk in
vehement discussion with a clearly startled FLOOR
MANAGER with headset and no less startled ASSOCIATE
(on mike to FLOOR MANAGER)
What the hell's going on?
On the pre-set monitor screen, the FLOOR MANAGER
with headset looks up --
FLOOR MANAGER (ON SCREEN)
(voice booming into
the control room)
I don't know. He just said he
was going to blow his brains out --
What the hell's this all about,
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
(shouting at the floor
Will you get the hell out of here?
We'll be back on air in a couple
(roaring into the mike)
What the fuck's going on, Howard?
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
I can't hear you --
(bawling at the AUDIO MAN)
Put the studio mike on!
We're back on in eleven seconds --
SLOCUM (on floor)
They want to know what the fuck is
going on, Howard.
HOWARD (on monitor)
I can't hear you.
(bawling at the Audio man)
Put the studio mike on!
We're back on in eleven seconds.
Harry, I think we better get him off --
(roaring at the Audio Man)
Turn his mike off!
(now back in the control room)
What the hell's going on?
Turn the fucking sound off, you stupid
son of a bitch! This is going out live!
Three -- two -- one --
Take 2 --
At which point, the TECHNICAL DIRECTOR pushes a button;
the jangling cat food commercial flips off the show
monitor to be instantly replaced by a scene of gathering
bedlam around HOWARD'S desk. The AUDIO MAN flees in
panic back to the cubicle to turn off the audio but not
before HARRY HUNTER and the DIRECTOR going out live to
67 affiliates can be heard booming:
Chrissakes! Black it out! This is
going out live to sixty-seven fucking
affiliates ! Shit!
This is the dumbest thing I ever saw! --
13. INT. MAX SCHUMACHER'S OFFICE - FIFTH FLOOR - ROOM 509
MAX SCHUMACHER, behind his desk staring petrified at
his office console on which pandemonium ha broken out.
The FLOOR MANAGER and the ASSOCIATE PRODUCER and
now an ELECTRICIAN are trying to pull HOWARD away from
his desk and HOWARD is trying to hit anybody he can
with an ineffective right hand haymaker --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Get the fuck away from me!
OTHER VOICES (ON MONITOR)
(coming from all directions)
-- cut the show! --
-- get him out of there! --
-- go to standby! --
-- for Chrissakes, you stupid --
MAX'S PHONE RINGS --
(grabs the phone)
How the hell do I know? --
(he hangs up, seizes
another phone, barks:)
Give me the network news
On the MONITOR SCREEN, hysteria is clearly dominating.
The SCREEN has suddenly leaped into a fragment of the
just-done cat food COMMERCIAL, then a jarring shot of
the bedlam of the studio floor. This particular camera
seems unattended as it begins to PAN dementedly back
and forth showing the confusion on the studio floor.
Then abruptly the SCREEN is filled with Vice President
designate Nelson Rockefeller testifying before the
Senate Rules Committee --
(shouting into phone)
Black it out!
The SCREEN abruptly goes into BLACK as MAX slashes his
phone back into its cradle. His PHONE promptly RINGS
again, but MAX is already headed for the door. The
SCREEN goes into STANDBY. His SQUAWK BOX suddenly
What the hell happened, Max? --
(shouting as he exits)
How the hell do I know? I'm going
He strides into --
14. INT. ROOM 509 - COMMON ROOM OF NEWS
A large common room where all the SECRETARIES of the
News Division EXECUTIVES have their desks. It is empty
now except for one SECRETARY just now putting the cover
on her typewriter. MAX strides through and exits
15. INT. FIFTH FLOOR CORRIDOR
A long institutional corridor -- part of an endless
maze of similar corridors -- with offices and technical
rooms debouching on both sides. The corridor has
begun to fill up with video-tape OPERATORS and other
News Division PERSONNEL who happen to be working late
-- all of whom are either wondering what happened or
are telling others what happened. MAX yanks an exit
door open and disappears down a flight of steps to
emerge into --
16. INT. FOURTH FLOOR CORRIDOR
-- which leads directly to the doors for the control
room and for the studio. Coming out of the control
room is the TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, who, on spotting MAX
striding down the corridor to him, says --
Jesus Christ, Mr. Schumacher! --
He follows MAX into the --
17. INT. STUDIO
Everything seems to have quieted a bit, the hysteria
down to mumbles and murmurs and occasional sounds of
laughter. TELEPHONES are shrilly and incessantly
RINGING. In the far corner of the studio sits HOWARD
BEALE surrounded by HARRY HUNTER, the DIRECTOR, the
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, the PRODUCTION ASSISTANT, and the
FLOOR MANAGER. CAMERAMEN, GRIPS and other FLOOR
PERSONNEL are gathered in a FLUX of little clumps around
the studio murmuring and muttering and giggling over the
whole absurd episode MAX heads straight for the GROUP
around HOWARD. They part to let him in --
Tom Cabell wants you to call as
soon as you come in --
MAX nods, stares at HOWARD --
Harry! Joe Sweeney on the phone! --
I'm not taking any more calls!
Tell them Mr. Schumacher's here!
They can talk to him!
(staring at HOWARD)
Howard, you have got to be out of
your ever-loving mind. Are you drunk?
(to the others)
How much boozing has he been doing
PHONES O.S. RING and RING. VOICES O.S. SHOUT --
-- Mr. Schumacher, Mr. Cabell
on the phone! --
-- Mr. Schumacher! Mr. Zangwill
for you! --
-- Harry! Mr. Thackeray on Three! --
HOWARD slowly looks up to MAX who is still staring at
him. He suddenly smiles broadly at MAX and winks.
-- Harry! Thackeray wants to
talk to you right now! --
-- Mr. Schumacher! Mr. Gianini
wants to talk to you! --
(to HARRY HUNTER)
You better get hold of Mr. Chaney
and Frank Hackett --
18. INT. FIFTH FLOOR - UBS BUILDING - ELEVATOR AREA - 10:47 P.M.
FRANK HACKETT, Executive Senior Vice President of the
network, 41 years old, one of the new cool young breed
of management/merchandising executives, wearing a tuxedo
-- (he had been pulled out of a dinner party in
Westchester by this unfortunate business) -- comes out
of the elevator and turns briskly into --
19. INT. FIFTH FLOOR CORRIDOR
-- which is clotted with network EXECUTIVES of assorted
sizes and ages. HACKETT, en route to Room 509, which
is clearly the humming hub of activity up here, pauses
to comment to one of the EXECUTIVES --
Lou, can't we clear out that
downstairs lobby? There must be
a hundred people down there, every
TV station and wire service in the
city. I could barely get in --
How'm I going to clear them out,
HACKETT murmurs and peels his way into --
20. INT. ROOM 509 - EXECUTIVES' OFFICES OF THE NEWS DIVISION
HACKETT enters the common room, off which debouch the
offices of the President of News (MAX SCHUMACHER), the
VP News Division (ROBERT MCDONOUGH), the VP Public
Relations News Division (MILTON STEINMAN), the VP Legal
Affairs News Division (WALTER GIANINI), VP Owned
Stations News (EMIL DUBROVNIK), General Manager News,
Radio (MICHAEL SANDIES) -- all of whom are here and a
number of other network EXECUTIVES. The VP Sales (JOE
DONNELLY) is just taking the phone from the VP News
Sales (RICHMOND KETTERING) who is seated at the desk of
the secretary for VP Public Relations News Division --
DONNELLY (on phone)
-- how many spots were wiped out? --
(to GIANINI, who is seated
at another secretary's desk
studying a typescript of
the aborted news show)
Anything litigable? --
Not so far --
-- We had to abort the show. Ed,
what else could we do? We'll
make good, don't worry about it --
(to ARTHUR ZANGWILL, VP
Standards and Practices,
now coming out of MAX's
Is Nelson in there?
He's talking to Wheeler. So far,
over nine hundred fucking phone
calls complaining about the foul
(in b.g. on phone)
-- come on, Mickey, what page
are you putting it on?! --
HACKETT is already crossing into --
21. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
-- which is pretty well jammed with NELSON CHANEY
(President of the network), 52, a patrician, sitting
behind MAX's desk and on the phone, looking up to
note HACKETT's arrival --
Frank Hackett just walked in --
MILTON STEINMAN (VP Public Relations News Division),
early 50's, a rumpled, ordinarily amiable man, is
standing by the desk on the phone to someone at CBS --
I can't release the tape, Marty,
we're still studying it ourselves --
A P.R. MAN sticks his head into the office
(calling to STEINMAN)
ABC again, wants the tape --
Tell him to go fuck himself
And that goes for you too, Marty --
(to HOWARD BEALE,
sitting on the couch)
You're off the air as of now.
(extending his phone
He wants to talk to you --
(to MAX, leaning
against a wall)
Who's replacing Beale tomorrow?
We're flying up Snowden from
(leaning across HACKETT
to turn up the volume
knob on Max's desk)
All right, everybody hold it.
Let's see how the other
networks handled this --
He is referring to the four television monitors --
three on the wall and a large office console monitor
of UBS-TV, now blurting out their respective
(VP Stations Relations,
lounging in the doorway)
The ten o'clock news opened
with it --
Walter's drafted a statement, I
haven't seen it yet -- I just got
here, John, I was at a dinner party --
Suddenly, the faces of DAVE MARASH and ROLAND SMITH and
CHUCK SCARBOROUGH and ROGER GRIMSBY and BILL BEUTEL
and the UBS local news anchorman, TIM HALLOWAY, are on
the screen. Affable DAVE MARASH on the CBS monitor
An unusual thing happened at one of
our sister networks, UBS, this evening --
Howard Beale, one of television's
most esteemed newscasters --
Howard Beale interrupted his network
news program tonight to announce --
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
made a forceful address before the
United Nations General Assembly --
How are we handling it?
Halloway's going to make a brief
statement at the end of the show
to the effect Howard's been under
great personal stress, et cetera
HACKETT reaches to click off the bank of monitor
screens. They abruptly go black.
I'll call you back, John.
(returns the phone to
its cradle, regards the
All right. We've got a stockholders'
meeting tomorrow at which we're going
to announce the restructuring of
management plan, and I don't want
this grotesque incident to interfere
with that. I'll suggest Mr. Ruddy
open with a short statement washing
this whole thing off, and, you,
Max, better have some answers in
case some of those nuts that always
come to stockholders' meetings --
(back to leaning
against the wall)
Mr. Beale has been under great
personal and professional pressures --
I've got some goddam surprises for
you too, Schumacher! I've had it
up to here with your cruddy division
and its annual thirty-three million
dollar deficit! --
Keep your hands off my news division
Frank. We're responsible to
corporate level, not to you.
We'll goddam well see about that!
All right, take it easy. Right now,
how' re we going to get Beale out of
here? I understand there's at least
a hundred reporters and camera crews
(buzzing the projectionist)
Diana asked if she could sit in on
(sits, calls to DIANA)
How's it going?
DIANA shrugs, smiles. The lights in the room go down.
A shaft of light shoots out from the projection room.
The PHONE at MAX's elbow BUZZES. HE picks it up --
(murmurs into phone)
Max Schumacher -- I'm glad I got
you, John. Listen, I got into a
hassle with Frank Hackett last
night over the Howard Beale thing,
and he made a crack about the
stockholders' meeting this afternoon.
He said something about having
some surprises for me. Is there
something going on, John, I don't
know about? ... John, I'm counting
on you and Mr. Ruddy to back me up
against that son of a bitch
Okay, see you this afternoon --
He hangs up, leans back, watches the documentary film
which has just begun. ON SCREEN, a handsome black
woman in her early 30's --
Who's that, Laureen Hobbs?
-- is sitting in a typical panel discussion grouping,
flanked by three MEN and a WOMAN, two white, two
black, all very urban guerilla, in fatigues, sun
glasses and combat boots. MISS HOBBS looks calmly
into camera and says:
LAUREEN HOBBS (ON SCREEN)
The Communist Party believes that
the most pressing political necessity
today is the consolidation of the
revolutionary, radical and democratic
movements into a United Front --
The PHONE BUZZES softly. MAX picks it up --
(murmurs into phone)
Yeah? ... Oh, goddamit, when, Louise?
Well, did he say anything? ...
All right, thanks.
(hangs up, promptly
picks up again)
LAUREEN HOBBS (ON SCREEN) (in b.g.)
Repression is the response of an
increasingly desperate, imperialist
ruling clique. Indeed, the entire
apparatus of the bourgeois-democratic
state especially its judicial systems
and its prisons is disintegrating --
MAX (on phone)
Harry, Howard left my house about
ten minutes ago presumably headed here.
Let me know as soon as he gets here.
LAUREEN HOBBS (ON SCREEN) (in b.g.)
The fascist thrust must be resisted
in its incipient stages by the
broadest possible coalition --
25. INT. SCREENING ROOM 7 - TWENTY MINUTES LATER
Room still dark. ON SCREEN, NUMBERED WHITE LEADER is
rolling down --
What we're going to see now is
something really sensational.
The Flagstaff Independent Bank
in Arizona was ripped off last
week by a terrorist group called
the Ecumenical Liberation Army,
and they themselves actually took
movies of the rip-off while they
were ripping it off. It's in
black and white, but wait'll
you see it --
The SCREEN suddenly erupts into film of the interior
of a bank being entered in the wake of THREE MEN, two
of them black, and TWO WOMEN, one black and one white.
They disperse to various parts of the bank as if they
were here on legitimate business --
The Ecumenical Liberation Army
-- is that the one that
kidnapped Patty Hearst?
No, that's the Symbionese
Liberation Army. This is the
Ecumenical Liberation Army.
They're the ones who kidnapped
Mary Ann Gifford three weeks ago.
There's a hell of a lot of
liberation armies in the
revolutionary underground and
a lot of kidnapped heiresses.
That's Mary Ann Gifford --
This last in reference to the young white woman on
screen who is lugging a shopping bag as she joins a
line at a teller's window --
You mean, they actually shot
this film while they were ripping
off the bank?
Yeah, wait'll you see it. I
don't know whether to edit or
leave it raw like this. That's the
Great Ahmed Khan; he's the leader --
ON SCREEN, the film has gone out of focus a couple of
times and bounced meaninglessly around the bank and
finally settled on a large, powerful black man at one
of the desks, presumably writing out a series of
deposit slips --
This is terrific stuff. Where
did you get it?
I got everything through Laureen
Hobbs. She's my contact for
all this stuff.
I thought she was straight
Right. But she's trying to unify
all the factions in the
underground, so she knows
ON SCREEN, the CAMERA has whooshed amateurishly about,
unfocuses and focuses again to pick up MARY ANN GIFFORD
bending over her shopping bag and pulling out a Czech
service submachine gun 9 Parabellum which she points to
the ceiling and apparently fires; the FILM is silent,
but the reactions of everyone around suggest clearly
something was fired. The FILM gets fragmented and
panicky about here, as does the activity in the bank.
The PHONE at MAX's elbow BUZZES. MAX picks it up.
(on the phone, while
in b.g. a bank hold-
up goes on screen)
Yeah? ... All right, put him on --
26. INT. THE NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM - ROOM 517
HARRY HUNTER, on phone, is using an empty desk in the
main room. Normal news room activity in b.g. --
(on phone, leans back
to call into HOWARD'S
Howard -- I've got Max on four,
would you pick up? --
27. INT. HOWARD'S OFFICE
(picking up phone)
Listen, Max, I'd like another
28. INT. SCREENING ROOM 7
The silent footage of the frenetic bank robbery is
still going on in b.g.
Oh, come on, Howard --
29. INT. HOWARD'S OFFICE
I don't mean the whole show.
I'd just like to come on, make
some kind of brief farewell
statement and then turn the
show over to Jack Snowden. I
have eleven years at this
network, Max. I have some
standing in this industry.
I don't want to go out like a
clown. It'll be simple and
dignified. You and Harry
can check the copy
30. INT. NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM
ACROSS HARRY HUNTER on phone, looking through the open
door of HOWARD's office to HOWARD at his desk in b.g.
-- I think it'll take the strain
off the show, Max. How much time
do you want, Howard?
(in b.g., on phone)
A minute forty-five, maybe two
All right, I'll give you two on
the top, then we'll go to Jack
Snowden with the Kissinger UN
31. INT. SCREENING ROOM 7
The show is over, the room lights are on. In b.g.,
DIANA and HERRON stand, murmur to each other --
And no booze today, Howard --
In b.g., DIANA and HERRON move for the door, wave good-
byes. MAX waves slackly in return. He can't help
noticing as DIANA leaves that she has the most
beautiful ass ever seen on a VP Programs --
32. INT. HOWARD'S OFFICE
No booze --
And hangs up. For a moment, he just sits, scowling and
making curious little grimaces. Then he stands,
removes his jacket, dumps it on a chair. He rolls his
sleeves up and suddenly makes a strange little GRUNT.
He sits behind his desk, fits a piece of paper into
the machine and then, again, suddenly, he makes a
strange little GROWL --
33. INT. NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM
Our PRODUCTION ASSISTANT, remembered perhaps from the
control room scene, passes HOWARD's open door and is
given pause by the strange little noises coming from
HOWARD's office. She stands in the doorway a moment
watching HOWARD GRUNTING, GROWLING and SNARLING as he
CLACKS away at the typewriter --
You all right, Mr. Beale?
You want me to close your door,
(HOWARD nods, types away,
The PRODUCTION ASSISTANT closes the door.
34. INT. 14TH FLOOR - UBS BUILDING - ELEVATOR AREA
DIANA and HERRON come out of one of the elevators and
turn left to the glass doors marked: DEPARTMENT OF
PROGRAMMING. They continue into --
35. INT. PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT - RECEPTION AREA
(Needless to say, there is no one at the receptionist's
desk.) DIANA and HERRON head down --
36. INT. PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT - CORRIDOR
DIANA pauses en route to lean into one of the
George, can you come in my office
for a minute?
She and HERRON continue on, turn into --
37. INT. PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT - COMMON ROOM
Where the SECRETARIES are all slaving away, reading
magazines and chatting among themselves. An occasional
PHONE RINGS. At the far end of the room, a chunky
WOMAN in her late 30's is instructing her SECRETARY in
something. DIANA hails her --
Barbara, is Tommy around anywhere?
BARBARA (in b.g.)
I think so.
I'd like to see the two of you
for a moment --
She leads HERRON now into --
38. INT. DIANA'S SECRETARY'S OFFICE
The SECRETARY hands a sheaf of telephone messages to
DIANA which she carries with her into --
39. INT. DIANA'S OFFICE
DIANA enters, followed by HERRON. She sits, skims
through her messages. The office is executive-size,
windows looking out on the canyons of glass and stone
skyscrapers on Sixth Avenue, desk piled high with
scripts. GEORGE BOSCH (VP Program Development East
Coast), a slight, balding man of 39, enters the office,
nods to HERRON, takes a seat; and is immediately
followed by BARBARA SCHLESINGER (Head of the Story
Department), the chunky lady just called in by DIANA,
and TOMMY PELLEGRINO (Assistant VP Programs), 36,
swarthy, coifed and mustachioed. They find seats on
the chairs, the small couch. HERRON remains standing --
This is Bill Herron from our
West Coast Special Programs
Department -- Barbara Schlesinger
-- George Bosch -- Tommy
Pellegrino -- Look, I just saw
some rough footage of a special
Bill's doing on the revolutionary
underground. Most of it's
tedious stuff of Laureen Hobbs
and four fatigue jackets muttering
mutilated Marxism. But he's got
about eight minutes of a bank
robbery that is absolutely
sensational. Authentic stuff.
Actually shot while the robbery
was going on. Remember the Mary
Ann Gifford kidnapping? Well,
it's that bunch of nuts. She's
in the film shooting off machine
guns. Really terrific footage.
I think we can get a hell of a
movie of the week out of it,
maybe even a series.
A series out of what? What're
we talking about?
Look, we've got a bunch of
hobgoblin radicals called the
Ecumenical Liberation Army who
go around taking home movies
of themselves robbing banks.
Maybe they'll take movies of
themselves kidnapping heiresses,
hijacking 747's, bombing bridges,
We'd open each week's segment
with that authentic footage,
hire a couple of writers to
write some story behind that
footage, and we've got
ourselves a series.
A series about a bunch of bank-
What're we going to call it --
the Mao Tse Tung Hour?
Why not? They've got Strike
Force, Task Force, SWAT -- why
not Che Guevara and his own
little mod squad? Listen, I
sent you all a concept analysis
report yesterday. Did any of
you read it?
Well, in a nutshell, it said the
American people are turning sullen.
They've been clobbered on all
sides by Vietnam, Watergate, the
inflation, the depression.
They've turned off, shot up,
and they've fucked themselves
limp. And nothing helps. Evil
still triumphs over all, Christ
is a dope-dealing pimp, even sin
turned out to be impotent. The
whole world seems to be going
nuts and flipping off into space
like an abandoned balloon. So
-- this concept analysis report
concludes -- the American people
want somebody to articulate their
rage for them. I've been telling
you people since I took this job
six months ago that I want angry
shows. I don't want conventional
programming on this network. I
want counter-culture. I want
She closes the door.
Now, I don't want to play butch
boss with you people. But when
I took over this department,
it had the worst programming
record in television history.
This network hasn't one show in
the top twenty. This network is
an industry joke. We better
start putting together one winner
for next September. I want a
show developed, based on the
activities of a terrorist group.
Joseph Stalin and his merry band
of Bolsheviks. I want ideas from
you people. And, by the way,
the next time I send an audience
research report around, you all
better read it, or I'll sack the
fucking lot of you, is that
(apparently, it is.
She turns to HERRON)
I'll be out on the coast in four
weeks. Can you set up a meeting
with Laureen Hobbs for me?
40. INT. A BANQUET ROOM - NEW YORK HILTON - WEDNESDAY -
LONG SHOT. A stockholders' meeting. Standing room
only. Some 200 STOCKHOLDERS seated in the audience;
others standing around the walls. On the rostrum, a
phalanx of UBS CORPORATE EXECUTIVES, seated in three
rows, including EDWARD RUDDY, Chairman of the Board,
the PRESIDENTS and SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENTS of the other
divisions and other groups -- the UBS Records Group,
the UBS Publishing Group, the UBS Theater Chain, etc.
Representing the network are NELSON CHANEY and the
divisional heads -- GEORGE NICHOLS, President of the
Radio Division; NORMAN MOLDANIAN, President Owned
Stations; General Counsel WALTER AMUNDSEN, and, of
course, MAX SCHUMACHER, President of the News Division.
FRANK HACKETT, Senior Executive Vice President UBS-TV,
is at the lectern making the annual report --
(in the droning manner
of such reports)
... but the business of management
is management; and, at the time
C. C. and A. took control, the
UBS-TV network was foundering
with less than seven percent of
national television revenues,
most network programs being sold
at station rates. I am therefore
pleased to announce I am submitting
to the Board of Directors a plan
for the coordination of the main
profit centers, and with the specific
intention of making each division
more responsive to management --
ANOTHER ANGLE SINGLING OUT MAX SCHUMACHER in the second
row of the phalanx of EXECUTIVES, bored with the
proceedings, and whispering to NELSON CHANEY seated
beside him. INCLUDE in frame the 67 year old, silver-
haired Brahmin of television, EDWARD RUDDY, who is
seated in the front row. HACKETT in b.g. It is some
twenty minutes later --
(reading from his report)
... point one. The division producing
the lowest rate of return has been
the News Division --
MAX suddenly begins paying attention --
-- with its 98 million dollar budget
and its average annual deficit of 32
million. To me, it is inconceivable
such a wanton fiscal affront go
ANOTHER ANGLE ACROSS HACKETT with a smoldering MAX
SCHUMACHER in b.g. --
-- The new plan calls for local
news to be transferred to Owned
Stations Divisions --
MAX in b.g., stares angrily down his row towards NORMAN
MOLDANIAN, who studiously avoids his eye --
-- News-Radio would be transferred
to the UBS Radio Division --
ACROSS MAX turning in his seat to scowl at GEORGE
NICHOLS in the row behind him --
HACKETT (in b.g.)
-- and, in effect, the News Division
would be reduced --
MAX leaning forward trying to catch the eye of EDWARD
RUDDY in the front row. RUDDY is staring stonily
-- from an independent division to
a department accountable to network --
MAX is about ready to blow his stack --
41. INT. BANQUET ROOM - NEW YORK HILTON - WEDNESDAY - 5:30 PM.
The stockholders' meeting is over. The floor is a
swirling CRUSH of STOCKHOLDERS mingling with EXECUTIVES.
MAX SCHUMACHER is elbowing his way through the crowded
aisle to get to where EDWARD RUDDY is chatting away
with a COUPLE of STOCKHOLDERS --
What was that all about, Ed? --
(turning to MAX, urbane)
This is not the time, Max.
(barely containing himself)
Why wasn't I told about this? Why
was I led onto that podium and
publicly guillotined in front of
the stockholders? Goddammit, I
spoke to John Wheeler this morning,
and he assured me the News Division
was safe. Are you trying to get
me to resign? It's a hell of a
way to do it.
We'll talk about this tomorrow
at our regular morning meeting.
RUDDY turns back to the clutch of STOCKHOLDERS around
him. MAX wheels away in a rage --
42. EXT. NEW YORK HILTON HOTEL - SIXTH AVENUE - DUSK
The Sixth Avenue entrance to the hotel. Taxis pulling
in, disgorging PEOPLE; taxis pulling out with new fares.
MAX comes striding out of the hotel, sore as a boil.
PAN HIM as he bulls his way through the line of taxis
and across jammed, clanging 5:50 P.M. Sixth Avenue --
43. INT. UBS BUILDING - 5TH FLOOR CORRIDOR
MAX, steaming, strides down the corridor to --
44. INT. ROOM 509 - NEWS DIV. EXECUTIVE OFFICES
Empty except for perhaps one SECRETARY pecking away
at her typewriter. MAX strides across and into --
45. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
MAX takes off his jacket, throws it on the couch, sits
behind his desk. But he's too steamed to stay there
long. A moment later, he's up again, strides around,
a caged lion. He thumps his desk angrily, strides
around, then whips his jacket up from the couch and
strides out --
46. INT. CONTROL ROOM - NETWORK NEWS SHOW
The wall CLOCK reads 6:28. The DIRECTOR, TECHNICAL
DIRECTOR, LIGHTING DIRECTOR and PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
are at their long shelf in front of the double bank
of television monitors. The AUDIO MAN is off in his
glassed-in cubicle. HARRY HUNTER and his SECRETARY
and the UNIT MANAGER are on the raised level in the
back. HUNTER is on the phone, looks up as the door to
the control room opens, and MAX, carrying his jacket,
comes in. Curious looks from the PERSONNEL here;
presidents of news rarely come down to the control
room. HUNTER finishes his phone call, offers his seat
to MAX, but MAX prefers standing in the back --
... five seconds --
-- picture's too thick --
-- coming to -- and one --
The show monitor, which has been showing color patterns,
now suddenly flicks on to show HOWARD BEALE as he looks
up from the sheaf of papers on his desk and says:
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Good evening. Today is Wednesday,
September the twenty-fourth, and
this is my last broadcast. Yesterday,
I announced on this program that I
would commit public suicide, admittedly
an act of madness. Well, I'll tell
you what happened -- I just ran out
of bullshit --
All right, cut him off.
The MONITOR SCREEN goes black.
(from the back wall)
Leave him on --
HOWARD's image promptly flicks back on --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Am I still on the air?
Everybody in the control room looks to MAX --
If this is how he wants to go out,
this is how he goes out.
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
I don't know any other way to say
it except I just ran out of bull-
The PHONE RINGS. HUNTER picks it up. ANOTHER PHONE
RINGS. HUNTER'S SECRETARY picks it up.
(on first phone)
Look, Mr. Schumacher's right here,
do you want to talk to him?
(extends the phone to MAX)
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Bullshit is all the reasons we give
for living, and, if we can't think
up any reasons of our own, we always
have the God bullshit --
Holy Mary Mother of Christ --
Yeah, what is it, Tom? --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
We don't know why the hell we're
going through all this pointless
pain, humiliation and decay, so
there better be someone somewhere
who does know; that's the God
He's saying life is bullshit,
and it is, so what're you
screaming about? --
He hangs up. The PHONE promptly RINGS again. HUNTER'S
SECRETARY picks it up. (HUNTER is on the phone that
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
If you don't like the God bullshit,
how about the man bullshit? Man
is a noble creature who can order
his own world, who needs God?
Mr. Amundsen for you, Mr. Schumacher.
I'm not taking calls.
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Well, if there's anybody out there
who can look around this demented
slaughterhouse of a world we live
in and tell me man is a noble
creature, that man is full of
(staring in awe at
HOWARD on the screen)
I know he's sober, so he's got to
be just plain nuts --
(starts to giggle)
What's so goddam funny?
I can't help it, Harry, it's funny --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
I don't have any kids --
A PHONE RINGS. HUNTER'S SECRETARY picks it up.
Max, this is going out live to
sixty-seven affiliates --
Leave him on.
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- and I was married for thirty-
three years of shrill, shrieking
A breathless and distraught YOUNG WOMAN bursts into
the control room.
Mr. Hackett's trying to get through
to you --
Tell Mr. Hackett to go fuck himself --
47. INT. DIANA'S OFFICE
DIANA, sitting alone in her office, watching HOWARD
BEALE on her office console --
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
I don't have any bullshit left.
I just ran out of it, you see --
48. INT. CONTROL ROOM - NETWORK NEWS SHOW
-- as FRANK HACKETT and his assistant, TOM CABELL,
wrench the door open and stride in --
Get him off! Are you people nuts?!
The TECHNICAL DIRECTOR taps a button, and the SCREEN
mercifully goes black.
49. INT. LOBBY - UBS BUILDING .
White-haired, patrician EDWARD RUDDY, Chairman of
the Board, impeccably groomed, fastidious in a light
topcoat, making his way through the absolute CRUSH
of NEWSPAPER PEOPLE, WIRE SERVICE PEOPLE, CAMERA CREWS
from CBS, NBC, ABC, from the local stations, WPIX,
WOR-TV, METROMEDIA, and from Channel 13, the educa-
tional channel. A half dozen SECURITY GUARDS protect
the elevators, and three more help RUDDY get through
the GLARING CAMERA LIGHTS and the horde of REPORTERS
thrusting mikes at him --
(moving through the crowd)
-- I'm sorry, I don't have all the
facts yet --
50. INT. 20TH FLOOR - LOBBY, LOUNGE, CORRIDOR
MAX, standing by the deserted reception desk, in the
empty, silent lounge. This is the top-management floor,
and the decor, which is posh-austere, reflects the
eminence of the top executives who have their offices
here. It is all silent and empty now, cathedral,
hushed, echoing. Way down at the far end of the
corridor, the double doors of the corner office open,
and NELSON CHANEY leans out and beckons to MAX, who
starts down the plush carpeting in response --
51. INT. MR. RUDDY'S OFFICE
Large, regal. Impressionist originals on those walls
which are not glass through which the crepuscular
grandeur of New York at night can be seen. RUDDY sits
behind his desk. JOHN WHEELER, 59, silent, forceful,
lounges in one of the several leather chairs. The
door opens, and NELSON CHANEY and MAX SCHUMACHER come
in. Everybody nods at everybody else. MAX slumps
into a leather chair.
(murmurs to CHANEY)
I'll want to see Mr. Beale after
CHANEY promptly picks up a corner phone and calls down
to the Fourteenth Floor.
(regards MAX briefly,
The way I hear it, Max, you're
primarily responsible for this
colossally stupid prank. Is
that the fact, Max?
That's the fact.
It was unconscionable. There
doesn't seem to be anything more
I have something to say, Ed.
I'd like to know why that whole
debasement of the News Division
announced at the stockholders'
meeting today was kept secret from
me. You and I go back twenty
years, Ed. I took this job with
your personal assurance that you
would back my autonomy against
any encroachment. But ever since
CCA acquired control of the UBS
Systems ten months ago, Hackett's
been taking over everything. Who
the hell's running this network,
you or some conglomerate called
CCA? I mean, you're the Chairman
of the Systems Group, and Frank
Hackett's just CCA's hatchet man.
Nelson here -- for Pete's sake, he's
the president of the network -- he
hasn't got anything to say about
anything anymore. Who the hell's
running this company, you or CCA?
I told you at the stockholders'
meeting, Max, that we would discuss
all that at our regular meeting
tomorrow morning. If you had been
patient, I would've explained to
you that I too thought Frank Hackett
precipitate and that the reorgani-
zation of the News Division would
not be executed until everyone,
specifically you, Max, had been
consulted and satisfied. Instead,
you sulked off like a child and
engaged this network in a shocking
and disgraceful episode. Your
position here is no longer tenable
regardless of how management is
restructured. I expect you to
bring in your resignation at ten
o'clock tomorrow morning, and we
will coordinate our statements to
the least detriment of everyone.
Bob McDonough will take over the
News Division till we sort all
(WHEELER nods. RUDDY turns
to CHANEY still in the corner
of the room on the phone)
I'd like to see Mr. Beale now --
They're looking for him, Ed. They
don't know where he is --
52. INT. LOBBY - UBS BUILDING
HOWARD BEALE, bleached almost white by the GLARE of
the CAMERA LIGHTS, and almost totally obscured by the
tidal CRUSH of cameras, REPORTERS, SECURITY GUARDS
around him --
-- every day, five days a week,
for fifteen years, I've been
sitting behind that desk -- the
dispassionate pundit --
53. INT. DIANA'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM
DIANA, naked, sitting on the edge of her bed in a
dark bedroom, watching HOWARD BEALE's impromptu press
conference on television --
(on TV screen)
-- reporting with seemly detachment
the daily parade of lunacies that
constitute the news -- and --
Also on the bed is a naked young STUD, who isn't really
that interested in the 11:00 News. He is fondling,
fingering, noodling and nuzzling DIANA with the clear
intention of mounting her --
(on TV screen)
-- just once I wanted to say what
I really felt --
The young STUD is getting around to nibbling at DIANA's
(watching the TV set
Knock it off, Arthur --
54. EXT. UBS BUILDING - 9:00 A.M., THURSDAY, SEPT. 25 - DAY
Bright morning sunshine. DIANA, in a pants suit and
carrying half a dozen scripts, enters the building --
55. INT. UBS BUILDING - LOBBY
DIANA, pausing at the newsstand to pick up the morning
papers, which she reads en route to the elevators --
56. INT. UBS BUILDING - 14TH FLOOR - 9:15 A.M.
DIANA briskly enters through the door marked:
DEPARTMENT OF PROGRAMMING, and whisks off down the
57. INT. PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT - COMMON ROOM
DIANA crosses to her own office. THREE SECRETARIES,
including DIANA's, are abuzz in a corner over last
night's Howard Beale show. DIANA'S SECRETARY scurries
to follow DIANA as, in b.g., BARBARA SCHLESINGER comes
out of her office carrying four scripts --
58. INT. DIANA'S OUTER OFFICE
DIANA, rummaging through the papers on top of the
SECRETARY's desk as the SECRETARY enters --
Did the overnight ratings come
They're on your desk.
Have you still got yesterday's
Shall I bring them in?
She exits into --
59. INT. DIANA'S OFFICE
Morning SUNLIGHT blasting in. DIANA moves to her
desk, stands behind it, scanning the front pages of
the newspapers piled on her desk, then sits and studies
the overnight ratings also on her desk. The SECRETARY
enters with yesterday's overnights, a sheet of paper,
which she extends to DIANA, who promptly studies them.
The SECRETARY exits as BARBARA SCHLESINGER enters,
sinks onto a chair with a sigh --
These are those four outlines
submitted by Universal for an hour
series. You needn't bother to
read them. I'll tell them to
you. The first one is set in a
large Eastern law school, pre-
sumably Harvard. The series is
irresistibly entitled The Young
Lawyers. The running characters
are a crusty but benign ex-Supreme
Court Justice, presumably Oliver
Wendell Holmes by way of Dr. Zorba.
There is a beautiful girl graduate
student and the local district
attorney who is brilliant and
sometimes cuts corners --
(studying the overnights)
Next one --
The second one is called The Amazon
(studying the overnights)
The running characters are a crusty
but benign police lieutenant who's
always getting heat from the
Commissioner, a hard-nosed, hard-
drinking detective who thinks
women belong in the kitchen, and
a brilliant and beautiful young
girl cop fighting the feminist
battle on the force --
(now studying the front
page of the Daily News)
We're up to our ears in lady cop
The next one is another investi-
gative reporter show. A crusty
but benign managing editor who's
always getting heat from the
The Arabs have decided to jack up
the price of oil another twenty
per cent, and the C.I.A. has been
caught opening Senator Humphrey's
mail, there's a civil war in Angola,
another one in Beirut, New York City's
facing default, they've finally caught
up with Patricia Hearst, and --
(she flips the Daily News over
so BARBARA can read it)
-- the whole front page of the Daily
News is Howard Beale.
ACROSS BARBARA SCHLESINGER, half-standing so she can
read the newspaper and showing the front page of the
Daily News -- which consists of a 3/4 page blowup of
HOWARD BEALE topped by a 52 point black banner headline:
-- BEALE FIRED --
-- it was also a two-column story
on page one of the Times --
(calls to her SECRETARY)
Helen, call Mr. Hackett's office,
see if he can give me a few minutes
this morning --
60. INT. ROOM 520 - THE NETWORK NEWS ROOM - 9:30 A.M.
MAX SCHUMACHER and BOB McDONOUGH (mid-40's) enter.
The Network News Room is something less than Front
Page, but, nevertheless, a news room. It's a long,
large, windowless room, some 40 desks, mostly
unoccupied, a wire room, typewriters and banks of
television monitors on the wall. At the moment,
work has stopped, and the ENTIRE PERSONNEL of the news
room, some 60 PEOPLE -- EXECUTIVES and SECRETARIES,
PRODUCERS, ASSISTANT PRODUCERS, HEAD WRITERS, WRITERS,
DUTY AND ASSIGNMENT EDITORS, and DESK ASSISTANTS,
ARTISTS, and FILM AND TAPE EDITORS, REPORTERS,
NEWSCASTERS and CAMERA AND AUDIO MEN -- are all
gathered, standing and sitting about to hear MAX say --
Ladies and gentlemen, I've been
at this network twelve years, and
it's been on the whole a ball --
VOICE (in b.g.)
-- and I want to thank you all.
Bob McDonough here will be taking
over for me for the time being,
and, much as I hate to admit it,
I'm sure everything will go along
just fine without me --
61. INT. UBS BUILDING - 15TH FLOOR - 10:00 A.M.
DIANA turning into --
62. INT. HACKETT'S OUTER OFFICE
The SECRETARY waves DIANA straight into --
63. INT. HACKETT'S OFFICE
where HACKETT sits unhappily at his desk poring over
memos from his Stations Relations Department and
reports from his Sales Department.
(not bothering to
KTNS Kansas City refuses to carry
our network news any more unless
Beale is taken off the air --
(drops the sheet of
paper on HACKETT's
Did you see the overnights on the
Network News? It has an 8 in New
York and a 9 in L.A. and a 27 share
in both cities. Last night, Howard
Beale went on the air and yelled
bullshit for two minutes, and I
can tell you right now that tonight's
show will get a 30 share at least.
I think we've lucked into something.
Oh, for God's sakes, are you
suggesting we put that lunatic
back on the air yelling bullshit?
Yes, I think we should put Beale
back on the air tonight and keep
him On. Did you see the Times
this morning? Did you see the
News? We've got press coverage
on this you couldn't buy for a
million dollars. Frank, that dumb
show jumped five rating points in
one night! Tonight's show has got
to be at least fifteen! We just
increased our audience by twenty
or thirty million people in one
night. You're not going to get
something like this dumped in your
lap for the rest of your days, and
you just can't piss it away!
Howard Beale got up there last
night and said what every American
feels -- that he's tired of all the
bullshit. He's articulating the
popular rage. I want that show,
Frank. I can turn that show into
the biggest smash in television.
What do you mean, you want that
show? It's a news show. It's not
I see Howard Beale as a latter-day
prophet, a magnificent messianic
figure, inveighing against the
hypocrisies of our times, a strip
Savonarola, Monday through Friday.
I tell you, Frank, that could just
go through the roof. And I'm talking
about a six dollar cost per thousand
show! I'm talking about a hundred,
a hundred thirty thousand dollar
minutes! Do you want to figure out
the revenues of a strip show that
sells for a hundred thousand bucks
a minute? One show like that could
pull this whole network right out
of the hole! Now, Frank, it's being
handed to us on a plate; let's not
HACKETT's intercom BUZZES.
Yes? ... Tell him I'll be a few
(clicks off, regards DIANA)
Let me think it over.
Frank, let's not go to committee
about this. It's twenty after ten,
and we want Beale in that studio
by half-past six. We don't want
to lose the momentum --
For God's sakes, Diana, we're
talking about putting a manifestly
irresponsible man on national
television. I'd like to talk to
Legal Affairs at least. And Herb
Thackeray and certainly Joe Donnelly
and Standards and Practices. And
you know I'm going to be eyeball
to eyeball with Mr. Ruddy on this.
If I'm going to the mat with Ruddy,
I want to make sure of some of my
ground. I'm the one whose ass is
going on the line. I'll get back
to you, Diana.
64. INT. EXECUTIVE DINING ROOM - 12:20 P.M.
A large room of white-linened tables, almost empty
save for the five men at one of the window tables,
with the spectacular view of midtown Manhattan.
The five are FRANK HACKETT, NELSON CHANEY, WALTER
AMUNDSEN (General Counsel Network,) ARTHUR ZANGWILL
(VP Standards and Practices,) and JOE DONNELLY (VP
(who is standing)
I don't believe this! I don't
believe the top brass of a national
television network are sitting
around their Caesar salads --
The top brass of a bankrupt national
television network, with projected
losses of close to a hundred and
fifty million dollars this year.
I don't care how bankrupt! You
can't seriously be proposing and
the rest of us seriously consider-
ing putting on a pornographic
network news show! The FCC will
Sit down, Nelson. The FCC can't
do anything except rap our knuckles.
I don't even want to think about
the litigious possibilities, Frank.
We could be up to our ears in
The affiliates won't carry it --
The affiliates will kiss your ass
if you can hand them a hit show.
The popular reaction --
We don't know the popular reaction.
That's what we have to find out.
The New York Times --
The New York Times doesn't advertise
on our network.
All I know is that this violates
every canon of respectable broad-
We're not a respectable network.
We're a whorehouse network, and we
have to take whatever we can get.
Well, I don't want any part of it.
I don't fancy myself the president
of a whorehouse.
That's very commendable of you,
Nelson. Now, sit down. Your
indignation has been duly recorded,
you can always resign tomorrow.
Look, what in substance are we
proposing? -- merely to add
editorial comment to our network
news show. Brinkley, Sevareid,
and Reasoner all have their comments.
So now Howard Beale will have his.
I think we ought to give it a shot.
Let's see what happens tonight.
Well, I don't want to be the
Babylonian messenger who has to
tell Max Schumacher about this.
(flagging a WAITER)
Max Schumacher doesn't work at
this network any more. Mr. Ruddy
fired him last night.
(to the WAITER)
A telephone, please --
(to his COLLEAGUES)
Bob McDonoguh's running the News
Division now --
A phone is placed before HACKETT, who promptly picks
it up and murmurs:
Bob McDonough in News, please --
65. INT. MAX'S OFFICE - 1:40 P.M.
MAX is on the phone and cleaning out his desk and
office at the same time. There are empty cartons
everywhere into which MAX is dumping his files. There
are piles of files on his desk, which he is skimming
through even as he talks on the phone --
-- I'm just fine financially,
Fred. I cashed in my stock
options back in April when CC
and A took over the network
(his other phone BUZZES)
That's my other phone, Fred, thanks
for calling --
(hangs up, picks up
the other phone)
Max Schumacher . .. Hi, Dick,
how's everything at NBC? --
HOWARD BEALE walks in, carrying an 8 x 12 photograph --
I don't know, Dick. I might teach,
I might write a book, whatever the
hell one does when one approaches
the autumn of one's years --
HOWARD puts the photograph on the desk in front of MAX.
(studying the photograph)
My God, is that me? Was I ever
Howard just showed me a picture
of the whole Ed Murrow gang when
I was at CBS. My God, Bob Trout,
Harry Reasoner, Cronkite, Hollenbeck,
and that's you, Howard, right? --
I'll see you, Dick --
(points to the photo)
You remember this kid? He's the
kid I think you once sent out to
interview Cleveland Amory on
(beginning to shake
That's him -- that's him --
They both begin wheezing with laughter. MILTON STEINMAN
pokes his head in --
What the hell's so funny?
66. INT. ROOM 509 - EXECUTIVE OFFICES, NEWS DIVISION
BOB McDONOUGH (VP Network News and interim head of the
division) enters, frowning. There is a clot of PEOPLE
spilling out from MAX SCHUMACHER's office from whence
sounds of LAUGHTER and SHOUTING emanate. Even the
SECRETARIES have left their desks to share the fun.
McDONOUGH, wondering what the hell it's all about,
makes his way through the CRUSH at the door, murmuring:
"Excuse me ... sorry, honey ... etc." When he finally
gets through the outer office and into --
67. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
-- what he sees is a room filled with News Executives
-- MAX, HOWARD, HARRY HUNTER, WALTER GIANINI (Legal
Affairs), MICHAEL SANDIES, MILTON STEINMAN, and a
COUPLE of younger PRODUCERS, delightedly listening to
this gang of middle-aged men remembering their maverick
-- I jump out of bed in my pajamas!
I grab my raincoat, run down the
stairs, run out into the middle of
the street, flag a cab. I jump in,
I yell: "Take me to the middle of
the George Washington Bridge!" --
HOWL of LAUGHTER --
-- The driver turns around, he
says: "Don't do it, kid, you
got your whole life ahead of you!"
The room ROCKS with LAUGHTER. When it subsides, BOB
McDONOUGH, standing in the doorway, says:
Well, if you think that's funny,
wait'll you hear this. I've
just come down from Frank
Hackett's office, and he wants
to put Howard back on the air
tonight. Apparently, the ratings
jumped five points last night,
and he wants Howard to go back
on and do his angry-man thing.
What're you talking about?
I'm telling you -- they want
Howard to go on yelling bullshit.
They want Howard to go on
spontaneously letting out his
anger, a latter-day prophet,
denouncing the hypocrisies
of our times --
Hey, that sounds pretty good --
Who's this they?
Hackett. Chaney was there, the
Legal Affairs guy, and that
girl from Programming.
Christenson? What's she got to
do with it?
GIANINI (in b.g.)
You're kidding, aren't you, Bob?
I'm not kidding. I told them:
"We're running a news department
down there, not a circus. And
Howard Beale isn't a bearded lady.
And if you think I'll go along
with this bastardization of the
news, you can have my resignation
along with Max Schumacher's right
now. And I think I'm speaking
for Howard Beale and everybody
else down there in News.
Hold it, McDonough, that's my
job you're turning down. I'll go
nuts without some kind of work.
What's wrong with being an angry
prophet denouncing the hypocrisies
of our times? What do you think,
Do you want to be an angry prophet
denouncing the hypocrisies of
Yeah, I think I'd like to be
an angry prophet denouncing
the hypocrisies of our times.
Then grab it.
68. INT. 5TH FLOOR CORRIDOR - 3:00 P.M.
MR. RUDDY, slim, slight, white-haired, imperially
elegant in banker's gray, comes down the corridor
towards Room 509. A VIDEOTAPE MAN, popping out of one
of the rooms that debouch off this corridor, quickly
stops, stands still --
Afternoon, Mr. Ruddy --
He passes on towards --
69. INT. ROOM 509
as RUDDY enters. The SIX SECRETARIES pecking away at
their typewriters all pause to murmur awed --
Good afternoon, Mr. Ruddy --
Good afternoon, Mr. Ruddy -- etc.
-- as RUDDY passes through to --
70. INT. MAX'S OUTER OFFICE
where MITZI (MAX'S SECRETARY), at her desk, murmurs:
He's waiting for you, Mr. Ruddy --
He goes into --
71. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
-- and closes the door.
Nelson Chaney tells me Beale may
actually go on the air this evening.
As far as I know, Howard's going
to do it. Are you going to sit
still for this, Ed?
(takes a folded piece
of paper from his
inside jacket pocket)
Yes. I think Hackett's overstepped
himself. There's some kind of
corporate maneuvering going on,
Max. Hackett is clearly forcing
a confrontation. That would
account for his behavior at the
stockholders' meeting. However,
I think he's making a serious
mistake with this Beale business.
C. C. and A. would never make such
an open act of brigandage,
especially against the News
Division. They are specifically
enjoined against any manipulation
of the News Division in the
consent decree. I suspect C. C.
and A. will be upset by Hackett's
presumptuousness, certainly Mr.
Jensen will. So I'm going to let
Hackett have his head for awhile.
He just might lose it over this
(places the paper
on MAX's desk)
I'd like you to reconsider your
(moves to the couch,
sits, crosses his legs,
I have to assume Hackett wouldn't
take such steps without some
support on the C. C. and A. board.
I'll have to go directly to Mr.
Jensen. When that happens, I'm
going to need every friend I've
got. And I certainly don't want
Hackett's people in all the
divisional positions. So I'd
like you to stay on, Max.
Of course, Ed.
Thank you, Max.
He opens the door and leaves.
72. INT. MAX'S OFFICE - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1 - 7:00 P.M.
MAX sitting alone behind his desk in a dark office lit
only by his desk lamp, watching the Network News Show
starring HOWARD BEALE on his office console --
The initial response to the new
Howard Beale was not auspicatory.
The press was without exception
hostile and industry reaction
negative. The ratings for the
Thursday and Friday show were
both 14 and with a 37 share,
but Monday's rating dropped
two points, clearly suggesting
the novelty had worn off --
On the office console, HOWARD BEALE doesn't seem too
much different than he had always been. He scowls,
frowns, seems to be muttering --
-- Indeed, Howard Beale played
his new role of latter-day
prophet poorly. He was, after
all, a newsman, not an actor.
He was uncertain, uncomfortable,
sometimes inaudible. The general
feeling around the network was
that this new Howard Beale would
be aborted in a matter of days --
73. INT. MAX'S OFFICE - LATER
On the office console, the Network News Show has come
to an end; the CLOSING THEME MUSIC emerges into
SOUND, and the show's CREDITS begin to roll. MAX
clicks off the set, folds his hands on the desk and
sits glumly regarding his folded hands. After a
moment, he becomes aware of another presence in the
room and looks to the doorway where DIANA CHRISTENSON
is standing, wearing a white blouse and dark slacks
and carrying her jacket and purse. If we haven't
already noticed how attractive she is, we do now --
standing as she is, framed in the doorway, backlit
by the lights of the deserted common room, suddenly
sensuous, even voluptuous.
(entering the office)
Did you know there are a number
of psychics working as licensed
brokers on Wall Street?
(she sits across from
MAX, fishes a cigarette
out of her purse)
Some of them counsel their clients
by use of Tarot cards. They're
all pretty successful, even in a
bear market and selling short.
I met one of them a couple of
weeks ago and thought of doing
a show around her -- The Wayward
Witch of Wall Street, something
like that. But, of course, if
her tips were any good, she
could wreck the market. So I
called her this morning and
asked her how she was on
predicting the future. She said
she was occasionally prescient.
"For example", she said, "I
just had a fleeting vision of
you sitting in an office with
a craggy middle-aged man with
whom you are or will be
And here I am.
She does all this with Tarot cards?
No, this one operates on
parapsychology. She has trance-
like episodes and feels things
in her energy field. I think
this lady can be very useful
to you, Max.
In what way?
Well, you put on news shows,
and here's someone who can
predict tomorrow's news for you.
Her name, aptly enough, is Sibyl.
Sybil the Soothsayer. You could
give her two minutes of trance
at the end of a Howard Beale show,
say once a week, Friday, which is
suggestively occult, and she
could oraculate. Then next week,
everyone tunes in to see how
good her predictions were.
Maybe she could do the weather.
Your network news show is going
to need some help, Max, if it's
going to hold. Beale doesn't
do the angry man thing well at
all. He's too kvetchy. He's
being irascible. We want a
prophet, not a curmudgeon. He
should do more apocalyptic doom.
I think you should take on a
couple of writers to write some
jeremiads for him. I see you
don't fancy my suggestions.
Hell, you're not being serious,
Oh, I'm serious. The fact is,
I could make your Beale show the
highest-rated news show in
television, if you'd let me
have a crack at it.
What do you mean, have a crack
I'd like to program it for you,
develop it. I wouldn't interfere
with the actual news. But teevee
is show biz, Max, and even the
News has to have a little
My God, you are serious.
I watched your six o'clock news
today -- it's straight tabloid.
You had a minute and a half on
that lady riding a bike naked in
Central Park. On the other hand,
you had less than a minute of
hard national and international
news. It was all sex, scandal,
brutal crimes, sports, children
with incurable diseases and
lost puppies. So I don't think
I'll listen to any protestations
of high standards of journalism.
You're right down in the street
soliciting audiences like the
rest of us. All I'm saying is,
if you're going to hustle, at
least do it right. I'm going to
bring this up at tomorrow's
network meeting, but I don't like
network hassles, and I was hoping
you and I could work this out
between us. That's why I'm here
And I was hoping you were looking
for an emotional involvement with
a craggy middle-aged man.
I wouldn't rule that out entirely.
They appraise each other for a moment; clearly, there
are the possibilities of something more than a
professional relationship here.
Well, Diana, you bring all your
ideas up at the meeting tomorrow.
Because, if you don't, I will.
I think Howard is making a goddam
fool of himself, and so does
everybody Howard and I know in
this industry. It was a fluke.
It didn't work. Tomorrow, Howard
goes back to the old format and
this gutter depravity comes
to an end.
She leans forward to flick her ash into MAX's desk ash
tray. Half-shaded as she is by the cone of light
issuing from the desk lamp, it is nipple-clear she is
bra-less, and MAX cannot help but note the assertive
swells of her body. DIANA moves languidly to the door
and would leave but MAX suddenly says:
I don't get it, Diana. You
hung around till half-past seven
and came all the way down here
just to pitch a couple of loony
show biz ideas when you knew
goddam well I'd laugh you out
of this office. I don't get
it. What's your scam in this
DIANA moves back to the desk and crushes her cigarette
out in the desk tray.
Max, I don't know why you
suddenly changed your mind
about resigning, but I do know
Hackett's going to throw you
out on your ass in January.
My little visit here tonight
was just a courtesy made out
of respect for your stature
in the industry and because
I've personally admired you
ever since I was a kid majoring
in speech at the University of
Missouri. But sooner or later,
now or in January, with or
without you, I'm going to take
over your network news show,
and I figured I might as well
I think I once gave a lecture
at the University of Missouri.
I was in the audience. I had
a terrible schoolgirl crush
on you for a couple of months.
She smiles, glides to the doorway again.
Listen, if we can get back for
a moment to that gypsy who
predicted all that about
emotional involvements and
middle-aged men -- what're
you doing for dinner tonight?
DIANA pauses in the doorway, and then moves back
briskly to the desk, picks up the telephone receiver,
taps out a telephone number, waits for a moment --
I can't make it tonight, luv,
call me tomorrow.
She returns the receiver to its cradle, looks at MAX;
their eyes lock.
Do you have any favorite
I eat anything.
Son of a bitch, I get the
feeling I'm being made.
You sure are.
I better warn you I don't do
anything on the first date.
She moves for the door. MAX stares down at his desk.
Schmuck, what're you getting into?
He sighs, stands, flicks off his desk lamp.
74. INT. A RESTAURANT
MAX and DIANA at the end of their dinner. In fact,
MAX is flagging a WAITER for two coffees, black --
(plying away at
her ice cream)
You're married, surely.
Twenty-six years. I have a
married daughter in Seattle who's
six months pregnant, and a
younger girl who starts at
Northwestern in January.
-- Well, Max, here we are --
middle-aged man reaffirming his
middle-aged manhood and a
terrified young woman with a
father complex. What sort of
script do you think we can
make out of this?
Terrified, are you?
(pushes her ice cream
away, regards him
Terrified out of my skull, man.
I'm the hip generation, man,
right on, cool, groovy, the
greening of America, man,
remember all that? God, what
humbugs we were. In my first
year at college, I lived in a
commune, dropped acid daily,
joined four radical groups and
fucked myself silly on a bare
wooden floor while somebody
chanted Sufi sutras. I lost six
weeks of my sophomore year
because they put me away for
trying to jump off the top floor
of the Administration Building.
I've been on the top floor ever
since. Don't open any windows
around me because I just might
jump out. Am I scaring you off?
I was married for four years and
pretended to be happy and had
six years of analysis and pretended
to be sane. My husband ran off
with his boyfriend, and I had an
affair with my analyst. He told
me I was the worst lay he had
ever had. I can't tell you how
many men have told me what a
lousy lay I am. I apparently
have a masculine temperament.
I arouse quickly, consummate
prematurely, and can't wait to
get my clothes back on and get
out of that bedroom. I seem
to be inept at everything except
my work. I'm goddam good at my
work and so I confine myself
to that. All I want out of life
is a 30 share and a 20 rating.
The WAITER brings the coffee.
The corridor gossip says you're
Frank Hackett's backstage girl.
(sipping coffee, smiles)
I'm not. Frank's a corporation
man, body and soul. He surrendered
his spirit to C. C. and A. years
ago. He's a marketing-merchandising
management machine, precision-
tooled for corporate success.
He's married to one C. C. and A.
board member's daughter, he
attends another board member's
church, his children aged two
and five are already enrolled
in a third board member's alma
mater. He has no loves, lusts
or allegiances that are not
consummately directed towards
becoming a C. C. and A. board
member himself. So why should
he bother with me? I'm not
even a stockholder.
How about your loves, lusts
They smile at each other.
Is your wife in town?
Well, then, we better go to
75. INT. DIANA'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM
Dark. Blinds drawn. MAX and DIANA lying naked on a
maelstrom of sheets, both still puffing from what
must have been an ebullient bout in the sack --
Wow, and you were the guy who
kept telling me how he was going
to be a grandfather in three
Hell, you were the girl who
kept telling me what a lousy
lay she was.
She bounces out of bed and stands naked in the shadowed
darkness, arms akimbo, looking happily down at MAX on
All right, enough of this
love-making. Are you going
to let me take over your
network news show or not?
Forget it. Tomorrow, Howard
Beale goes back to being a
straight anchorman. I'll tell
him first thing tomorrow morning.
76. INT. HOWARD BEALE'S BEDROOM
HOWARD BEALE, fast asleep in his dark, empty, hushed
I can't hear you. You'll have
to speak a little louder.
He gets up on one elbow, eyes still closed, cocks his
head as if he were listening to someone mumbling from
the rocking chair across the room.
You're kidding. How the hell
would I know what the truth is?
He sits up, gets out of bed, walks around and perches
on the foot of the bed, stares at the empty rocker,
nods his head as if he is following a complicated
What the hell is this, the
burning bush? For God's sake,
I'm not Moses --
Whoever he thinks he is talking to apparently gets up
and crosses the room to the overstuffed chair and sits
there, since HOWARD follows this movement with his eyes
and finally gets up and perches on the side of his bed
in order to continue the curious conversation.
Why me? I'm a deteriorating
HOWARD listens, sighs, shrugs:
77. EXT. UBS BUILDING - THURSDAY, OCT. 2, 9:00 A.M. - DAY
Bright sunny day to establish the next morning.
78. INT. ROOM 517 - NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM
MAX enters. The usual morning hum of activity. PHONES
RING. HARRY HUNTER, going over some wire releases with
his HEAD WRITER, looks up as MAX approaches --
Howard in his office?
Harry, I'm killing this whole
screwball angry prophet thing.
We're going back to straight
news as of tonight's show.
MAX veers off for --
79. INT. HOWARD'S OFFICE
HOWARD at his typewriter, clicking away. MAX leans
in through the open doorway --
Howard, we're going back to
straight news tonight. You
don't have to be the mad
prophet any more.
HOWARD turns to regard MAX in the doorway with a sweet
I must go on with what I'm doing,
Max. I have been called. This
is my witness, and I must make it.
This gives MAX pause, to say the least.
You must make what, Howard?
I must make my witness. I must
lead the people from the waters.
I must stay their stampede to
MAX takes a step into the office and closes the door.
You must stay their what,
I must stay their headlong
suicidal stampede to the sea.
for a moment)
Well, hallelujah, Howard, are
you putting me on or have you
flipped or what?
I have heard voices, Max.
You have heard voices. Swell.
What kind of voices, Howard?
Still small voices in the night
or the mighty thunder of God?
Howard, you've finally done it.
You've gone over the edge.
I have been called. This is
my witness, and I must make it.
Not on my goddam network news
He opens the door, goes back into --
80. INT. NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM
-- where he stops, turns and wheels back to HOWARD's
Now, look, Howard, I'm not
kidding around about this.
You go back to being a straight
anchorman tonight. I'm the
voice you're hearing now, and
this voice is telling you
we're doing a straight news
show from now on. Okay?
HOWARD seems not to have heard him, continues pecking
away at his typewriter. MAX scowls, turns, exits --
81. INT. NETWORK NEWS CONTROL ROOM
The wall CLOCK says 6:29. The control room STAFF are
all at their posts murmuring away. HARRY HUNTER is
on the phone --
(muttering into phone)
Max, I'm telling you he's fine.
He's been sharp all day, he's
been funny as hell. He had
everybody cracking up at the
rundown meeting ... I told him,
I told him ...
82. INT. NETWORK NEWS CONTROL ROOM - LATER
On the SHOW MONITOR, HOWARD BEALE at his desk,
shuffles his papers, looks up for his cue. The
wall CLOCK clicks to 6:30, the DIRECTOR murmurs into
his mike. HOWARD looks out from the screen to his
vast audience and says:
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
Last night, I was awakened from
a fitful sleep at shortly after
two o'clock in the morning by a
shrill, sibilant, faceless voice
that was sitting in my rocking
chair. I couldn't make it out at
first in the dark bedroom. I
said: "I'm sorry, you'll have to
talk a little louder." And the
Voice said to me: "I want you to
tell the people the truth, not
an easy thing to do; because the
people don't want to know the
truth." I said: "You're kidding.
How the hell would I know what
the truth is?" I mean, you have
to picture me sitting there on
the foot of the bed talking to
an empty rocking chair. I said
to myself: "Howard, you are
some kind of banjo-brain sitting
here talking to an empty chair."
But the Voice said to me: "Don't
worry about the truth. I'll put
the words in your mouth." And I
said: "What is this, the burning
bush? For God's sake, I'm not
Moses." And the Voice said to
me: "And I'm not God, what's
that got to do with it --"
83. INT. NETWORK NEWS CONTROL ROOM
HARRY HUNTER still on the phone as the rest of the
control room STAFF just sit there staring at HOWARD
on the MONITOR --
What do you want me to do? --
84. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
MAX behind his desk on his phone, chin cupped in his
right hand, staring glumly at HOWARD on his CONSOLE --
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
And the Voice said to me: "We're
not talking about eternal truth
or absolute truth or ultimate
truth! We're talking about
impermanent, transient, human
truth! I don't expect you people
to be capable of truth! But,
goddamit, you're at least capable
of self-preservation! That's
good enough! I want you to go
out and tell the people to
preserve themselves -- "
(mutters on phone)
Right now, I'm trying to remember
the name of that psychiatrist
that took care of him when his
wife died --
85. INT. STUDIO - NETWORK NEWS
TIGHT SHOT OF HOWARD, his voice rising, his eyes
glowing with increasing fervor --
And I said to the Voice: "Why me?"
And the Voice said: "Because
you're on television, dummy! -- "
86. INT. DIANA'S OFFICE
DIANA watching HOWARD on her CONSOLE --
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
"You have forty million Americans
listening to you; after tonight's
show, you could have fifty million.
For Pete's sake, I don't expect
you to walk the land in sackcloth
and ashes preaching the Armageddon.
You're on Teevee, man! -- "
87. INT. MAX'S OFFICE
MAX, no longer on the phone, is leafing through a
loose-leaf address book --
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
So I thought about it for
a moment --
MAX taps out a telephone number on his private line --
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
And then I said: "Okay -- "
Doctor Sindell? My name is Max
Schumacher, I'm at the Union
Broadcasting Systems, and I hope
you remember me? I'm a friend of
Howard Beale whom you treated for
a few months last year --
88. INT. FIFTH FLOOR CORRIDOR
as HOWARD and HARRY HUNTER, followed by the rest of
the control room STAFF, come out of the stairway and
head down the corridor to --
89. INT. ROOM 517 - NIGHTLY NEWS ROOM
where HUNTER and HOWARD move towards HOWARD's office
while the rest of the control room CREW disperse to
their own desks and to exchange muttered comments with
those Nightly News PERSONNEL still at their desks.
HOWARD walks straight as a ramrod, eyes uplifted,
serene to the point of beatitude. He and HUNTER
go into --
90. INT. HOWARD'S OFFICE
where MAX is sitting, waiting on the couch. He
Close the door, Harry --
HUNTER does so.
Sit down, Howard. Howard, I'm
taking you off the air. I
called your psychiatrist.
behind his desk)
What's happening to me, Max, isn't
mensurate in psychiatric terms.
I think you're having a breakdown,
require treatment, and Dr. Sindell
This is not a psychotic episode.
It is a cleansing moment of clarity.
(stands, an imbued man)
I am imbued, Max. I am imbued
with some special spirit. It's
not a religious feeling at all.
It is a shocking eruption of
great electrical energy: I feel
vivid and flashing as if suddenly
I had been plugged into some great
cosmic electromagnetic field. I
feel connected to all living
things, to flowers, birds, to
all the animals of the world
and even to some great unseen
living force, what I think
the Hindus call prana.
He stands rigidly erect, his eyes staring mindlessly
out, his face revealing the anguish of so transcendental
It is not a breakdown. I have
never felt so orderly in my life!
It is a shattering and beautiful
sensation! It is the exalted
flow of the space-time continuum,
save that it is spaceless and
timeless and of such loveliness!
I feel on the verge of some
great ultimate truth.
He stares haggardly at MAX, his breath coming with
great difficulty now; he shouts:
You will not take me off the air
for now or for any other
He promptly falls in a dead swoon onto the floor.
(hurrying to his friend's
Jesus Christ --
(from the door)
Is he okay?
(bent over HOWARD)
He's breathing anyway. I'll
have to take him to my house
again for the night --
A CRASH OF THUNDER --
91. INT. MAX'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT
THUNDER CRASHES outside. RAIN pelts against the
windows. The room is dark. MAX and his wife, LOUISE,
are fast asleep in their hushed room. CAMERA PANS,
DOLLIES slowly out of the bedroom and into --
92. INT. LIVING ROOM
Dark, hushed, sleeping. HOWARD is asleep on the living
room couch. Or rather he was asleep, for he now slowly
sits up, then stands in his borrowed pajamas, goes to
the hall closet, fetches out a raincoat, unchains,
unbolts and unlocks the front door of the apartment,
and goes out --
93. EXT. A STREET IN THE EAST 60'S - OVERCAST DAY
FRIDAY , OCTOBER 3 - 7:30 A.M.
Another CRASH and RUMBLE of THUNDER. RAIN slashes
through the streets. The sky is dark and lowering --
94. INT. MAX'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM
ALARM CLOCK BUZZING. MRS. LOUISE SCHUMACHER, a
handsome matron of 50, clicks it off and gets out of
bed. MAX turns in the bed, sleeps on. THUNDER and
RAIN O.S. LOUISE starts sleepily for the bathroom,
pauses, then goes out into the --
INT. BACK HALLWAY
-- and down that to --
INT. LIVING ROOM
-- where she stands, frowning. The couch, which had
been made up for a bed, has clearly been slept in
but is now empty. She looks back up the hallway to
the guest bathroom. The door is open, and there is
obviously nobody in the bathroom. She pads across
the living room-dining room area and pokes her head
into the kitchen, and then back to the back hallway,
pauses a moment outside her daughter's closed bedroom
door, opens it, looks in, closes it and then returns
INT. THE BEDROOM
She sits on MAX's side of the bed, shakes him awake.
Wake up, Max, because Howard's
gone. I'll make you some coffee.
She moves off.
He slowly sits up.
95. INT. FRANK HACKETT'S OFFICE
HACKETT in a rage, shouting at MAX slumped in a soft
chair. Others in the room are DIANA and HERB
What do you mean you don't know
where he is? The son of a bitch
is a hit, goddammit! Over two
thousand phone calls! Go down
to the mailroom! As of this
minute, over fourteen thousand
telegrams! The response is
sensational! Herb, tell him! --
THACKERAY starts to tell him, but HACKETT roars on --
Herb's phone hasn't stopped
ringing! Every goddam affiliate
from Albuquerque to Sandusky!
The response is sensational!
The PHONE RINGS, HACKETT seizes it.
What? ... All right
He hangs up, snaps at THACKERAY --
It's your office, Herb. You
better get back there.
THACKERAY exits. HACKETT roars on --
Moldanian called me! Joe
Donnelly called me! We've got
a goddam hit, goddam it! Diana,
show him the Times! We even
got an editorial in the holy
goddam New York Times. "A Call
to Morality!" That crazy son of
a bitch, Beale, has caught on!
So don't tell me you don't know
where he is!
I don't know where he is! He
may be jumping off a roof for
all I know. The man is insane.
He's no longer responsible for
himself. He needs care and
treatment. And all you
grave-robbers care about is
he's a hit!
You know, Max, it's just possible
that he isn't insane, that he is,
in fact, imbued with some special
My God, I'm supposed to be
the romantic; you're supposed
to be the hard-bitten realist!
All right. Howard Beale obviously
fills a void. The audience out
there obviously wants a prophet,
even a manufactured one, even
if he's as mad as Moses. By
tomorrow, he'll have a 50 share,
maybe even a 60 share. Howard
Beale is processed instant God,
and right now it looks like he
may just go over bigger than
Mary Tyler Moore.
I'm not putting Howard back on
It's not your show any more,
Max, it's mine.
You're nuts. You're nuttier
I gave her the show, Schumacher.
I'm putting the network news show
under programming. Mr. Ruddy
has had a mild heart attack and
is not taking calls. In his
absence, I'm making all network
decisions, including one I've
been wanting to make a long time
-- you're fired. I want you
out of this building by noon.
I'll leave word with the
security guards to throw you
out if you're still here.
Well, let's just say, fuck you,
Hackett. You want me out, you're
going to have to drag me out
kicking and screaming. And the
whole news division will walk
out kicking and screaming with
You think they're going to quit
their jobs for you. Not in
this depression, buddy.
When Ruddy gets back, he'll
have your ass.
I got a hit, Schumacher, and Ruddy
doesn't count any more. He was
hoping I'd fall on my face with this
Beale show, but I didn't. It's a
big, fat, big-titted hit, and I
don't have to waffle around with
Ruddy any more. If he wants to take
me up before the C.C. and A. board,
let him. And do you think Ruddy's
stupid enough to go to the CCA board
and say: "I'm taking our one hit
show off the air?" And comes
November Fourteen, I'm going to be
standing up there at the annual CCA
management review meeting, and I'm
going to announce projected earnings
for this network for the first time
in five years. And, believe me, Mr.
Jensen will be sitting there rocking
back and forth in his little chair,
and he's going to say: "That's very
good, Frank, keep it up." So don't
have any illusions about who's
running this network from now on.
You're fired. I want you out of
your office before noon or I'll
have you thrown out.
And you go along with this?
Well, Max, I told you I didn't
want a network hassle over this.
I told you I'd much rather work
the Beale show out just between
the two of us.
Well, let's just say, fuck you
Howard Beale may be my best friend!
I'll go to court. I'll put him
in a hospital before I let you
exploit him like a carnival
You get your psychiatrists,
and I'll get mine.
(heading for the door)
I'm going to spread this whole
reeking business in every paper
and on every network, independent,
group, and affiliated station in
this country. I'm going to make
a lot of noise about this.
Great! we need all the press
we can get.
MAX exits. HACKETT clicks his intercom.
Get me Mr. Cabell --
Something going on between
you and Schumacher?
Not any more.
(his PHONE BUZZES,
he picks it up)
Tom, Howard Beale has disappeared.
Tell Harriman to prepare a big
statement for the news media.
And call the cops and tell them
to find the crazy son of a bitch --
96. EXT. UBS BUILDING - SIXTH AVENUE - NIGHT - 6:40 P.M.
THUNDER CRASHES -- RAIN lashes the street. PEDESTRIANS
struggle against the slashing rain. The streets gleam
wetly, the heavy TRAFFIC heading uptown crushes and
HONKS along, erratic enfilades of headlights in the
shiny, black streets --
97. CLOSER ANGLE
of entrance to UBS Building. HOWARD BEALE, wearing a
coat over his pajamas, drenched to the skin, his mop of
gray hair plastered in streaks to his brow, hunched
against the rain, climbs the steps and pushes the glass
door at the entrance and goes into --
98. INT. UBS BUILDING - LOBBY
TWO SECURITY GUARDS at the desk watch HOWARD pass --
How do you Mr. Beale?
HOWARD stops, turns, stares haggardly at the SECURITY
(mad as a loon)
I have to make my witness.
(an agreeable fellow)
Sure thing, Mr. Beale.
HOWARD plods off to the elevators.
99. INT. NETWORK NEWS CONTROL ROOM
Murmured, efficient activity as in previous scenes.
DIANA stands in the back in the shadows. On the SHOW
MONITOR, JACK SNOWDEN, BEALE's replacement, has been
doing the news straight --
SNOWDEN (ON MONITOR)
... Oil ministers of the OPEC
nations meeting in Vienna still
haven't decided how much more to
increase the price of oil next
Wednesday. Iran and some of the
Arab states want to jack up the
price by as much as twenty
Five seconds --
Twenty-five in Vienna --
And ... two --
SNOWDEN (ON MONITOR)
The Saudi Arabians are being more
cautious. They just want a ten per-
cent increase. More on that story
from Edward Fletcher in Vienna --
All this is UNDER and OVERLAPPED by HARRY HUNTER
answering a BUZZ on his phone --
Yeah? ... Okay --
(hangs up, to DIANA)
He came in the building about
five minutes ago.
Ten seconds coming to one --
Tell Snowden if he comes in the
studio to let him go on.
(to the STAGE MANAGER)
Did you get that, Paul?
The STAGE MANAGER nods, passes on the instructions to his
A.D. on the studio floor. On the SHOW MONITOR, we see
footage of the OPEC Vienna meeting. Lots of Arab headdresses
and bearded Levantine faces at conference tables, and we are
hearing the VOICE of Edward Fletcher in Vienna --
FLETCHER (ON MONITOR)
This has probably been the most divisive
meeting the oil-producing states have
ever had. The thirteen nations of OPEC
have still not been able to decide by
how much to increase the price of oil --
On the SHOW MONITOR, the footage flicks to Sheik Zaki Yamani
being interviewed by a corps of correspondents outside the
meeting hall --
Saudi Arabian oil minister Sheik Zaki
Yamani flew to London yesterday for
further consultations with his government.
He returned to the Vienna meetings today--
Nobody in the control room is paying too much attention
to Yamani, they are all watching the double bank of
black-and-white monitors which show HOWARD BEALE
entering the studio, drenched, hunched, staring gauntly
off into his own space, moving with single-minded
purpose across the studio floor past cameras and
ASSISTANT DIRECTORS, CAMERAMEN, SOUND MEN, ELECTRICIANS
and ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS, to his desk which is being
vacated for him by JACK SNOWDEN. On the SHOW MONITOR,
the film clip of Yamani has come to an end.
-- and, suddenly, the obsessed face of HOWARD BEALE,
gaunt, haggard, red-eyed with unworldly fervor, hair
streaked and plastered on his brow, manifestly mad,
fills the MONITOR SCREEN.
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
I don't have to tell you things
are bad. Everybody knows things
are bad. It's a depression.
Everybody's out of work or scared
of losing their job, the dollar
buys a nickel's worth, banks are
going bust, shopkeepers keep a
gun under the counter, punks
are running wild in the streets,
and there's nobody anywhere who
seems to know what to do, and
there's no end to it. We know
the air's unfit to breathe and
our food is unfit to eat, and
we sit and watch our tee-vees
while some local newscaster
tells us today we had fifteen
homicides and sixty-three
violent crimes, as if that's
the way it's supposed to be.
We all know things are bad.
Worse than bad. They're crazy.
It's like everything's going
crazy. So we don't go out any
more. We sit in the house, and
slowly the world we live in
gets smaller, and all we ask is
please, at least leave us alone
in our own living rooms. Let me
have my toaster and my tee-vee
and my hair-dryer and my steel-
belted radials, and I won't say
anything, just leave us alone.
Well, I'm not going to leave you
alone. I want you to get mad --
ANOTHER ANGLE showing the rapt attention of the PEOPLE
in the control room, especially of DIANA --
I don't want you to riot. I
don't want you to protest. I
don't want you to write your
congressmen. Because I wouldn't
know what to tell you to write.
I don't know what to do about the
depression and the inflation and
the defense budget and the Russians
and crime in the street. All
I know is first you got to get
mad. You've got to say: "I'm
mad as hell and I'm not going
to take this any more. I'm a
human being, goddammit. My life
has value." So I want you to
get up now. I want you to get
out of your chairs and go to
the window. Right now. I want
you to go to the window, open
it, and stick your head out
and yell. I want you to yell:
"I'm mad as hell and I'm not
going to take this any more!"
How many stations does this
go out live to?
Sixty-seven. I know it goes out
to Atlanta and Louisville,
I think --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- Get up from your chairs.
Go to the window. Open it.
Stick your head out and yell
and keep yelling --
But DIANA has already left the control room and is
scurrying down --
100. INT. CORRIDOR
-- yanking doors open, looking for a phone, which
she finds in --
101. INT. AN OFFICE
(seizing the phone)
Give me Stations Relations --
(the call goes through)
Herb, this is Diana Christenson,
are you watching because I want
you to call every affiliate
carrying this live --
I'll be right up --
102. INT. ELEVATOR AREA - FIFTEENTH FLOOR
DIANA bursts out of the just-arrived elevator and
strides down to where a clot of EXECUTIVES and OFFICE
PERSONNEL are blocking an open doorway. DIANA pushes
through to --
103. INT. THACKERAY'S OFFICE - STATIONS RELATIONS
HERB THACKERAY on the phone, staring up at HOWARD
BEALE on his wall monitor --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
-- First, you have to get mad.
When you're mad enough --
Both THACKERAY'S SECRETARY's office and his own office
are filled with his STAFF. The Assistant VP Station
Relations, a 32-year-old fellow named RAY PITOFSKY,
is at the SECRETARY's desk, also on the phone. Another
ASSISTANT VP is standing behind him on the SECRETARY's
other phone --
(shouting to THACKERAY)
Whom are you talking to?
WCGG, Atlanta --
Are they yelling in Atlanta,
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
-- we'll figure out what to do
about the depression --
Are they yelling in Atlanta,
104. INT. GENERAL MANAGER'S OFFICE - UBS AFFILIATE - ATLANTA
The GENERAL MANAGER of WCGG, Atlanta, a portly
58-year-old man, is standing by the open windows of his
office, staring out into the gathering dusk, holding
his phone. The station is located in an Atlanta
suburb, but from far off across the foliage
surrounding the station, there can be heard a faint
RUMBLE. On his office console, HOWARD BEALE is
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
-- and the inflation and the oil
Herb, s0 help me, I think they're
105. INT. THACKERAY'S OFFICE
(at SECRETARY's desk,
on the phone)
They're yelling in Baton Rouge.
DIANA grabs the phone from him and listens to the
people of Baton Rouge yelling their anger in the
HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)
-- Things have got to change.
But you can't change them unless
you're mad. You have to get mad.
Go to the window --
(gives phone back to
PITOFSKY; her eyes
glow with excitement)
The next time somebody asks you
to explain what ratings are,
you tell them: that's ratings!
Son of a bitch, we struck the
106. INT. MAX'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
MAX, MRS. SCHUMACHER, and their 17-year-old daughter,
CAROLINE, watching the Network News Show --
HOWARD (ON THE SET)
-- Stick your head out and yell.
I want you to yell: "I'm mad
as hell and I'm not going to
take this any more!"
CAROLINE gets up from her chair and heads for the
living room window.
Where are you going?
I want to see if anybody's
HOWARD (ON TV SET)
Right now. Get up. Go to
your window --
107. INT./EXT. MAX'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
CAROLINE opens the window and looks out on the
rain-swept streets of the upper East Side, the
bulking, anonymous apartment houses and the occasional
brownstones. It is thunder dark; a distant clap of
THUNDER CRASHES somewhere off and LIGHTNING shatters
the dank darkness. In the sudden HUSH following the
thunder, a thin voice down the block can be heard
THIN VOICE (O.S.)
I'm mad as hell and I'm not
going to take this any morel
HOWARD (ON TV SET)
-- open your window --
MAX joins his daughter at the window. RAIN sprays
against his face --
108. MAX'S P.O.V.
He sees occasional windows open, and, just across
from his apartment house, a MAN opens the front door
of a brownstone --
I'm mad as hell and I'm not
going to take this any more!
OTHER SHOUTS are heard. From his twenty-third floor
vantage point, MAX sees the erratic landscape of
Manhattan buildings for some blocks, and, silhouetted
HEADS in window after window, here, there, and then
seemingly everywhere, SHOUTING out into the slashing
black RAIN of the streets --
I'm mad as hell and I'm not
going to take this any morel
A terrifying enormous CLAP of natural THUNDER, followed
by a frantic brilliant FULGURATION of LIGHTNING; and now
the gathering CHORUS of scattered SHOUTS seems to be
coming from the whole, huddled, black horde of the
city's people, SCREAMING together in fury, an
indistinguishable tidal roar of human rage as formidable
as the natural THUNDER again ROARING, THUNDERING,
RUMBLING above. It sounds like a Nuremberg rally, the
air thick and trembling with it --
109. FULL SHOT - MAX
standing with his DAUGHTER by the open terrace window-
doors, RAIN spraying against them, listening to the
stupefying ROARS and THUNDERING rising from all around
him. He closes his eyes, sighs, there's nothing he
can do about it any more, it's out of his hands.
110. EXT. LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - WEDNESDAY,
OCTOBER 16 - 12:00 NOON - DAY
A jumbo 747 touches down at L.A. Airport --
By mid-October, the Howard Beale
show had settled in at a 42
share, more than equaling all
the other network news shows
111. AIRPORT - LATER
DIANA and BARBARA SCHLESINGER, carrying attach, cases,
scripts, hand baggage, deplane --
In the September rating book,
the Howard Beale show was listed
as the fourth highest-rated show
of the month, surpassed only by
All in the Family, Rhoda, and
Chico and the Man -- a phenomenal
state of affairs for a news
112. EXT. UBS BUILDING - L.A. - DAY
A towering glass building on Santa Monica Boulevard.
And, on October the Sixteenth,
Diana Christenson flew to Los
113. INT. WEST COAST UBS BUILDING - A CONFERENCE ROOM
DIANA at a luncheon meeting (sandwiches and containers
of coffee), with her West Coast Programming
-- for what the trade calls
pow-wows and confabs with her
West Coast programming execs --
These are FOUR MEN and TWO WOMEN; GLENN KOSSOFF and
BARBARA SCHLESINGER; the THREE OTHER MEN are the
Assistant VP Program Development West Coast, Head
of the Story Department West Coast, and a MAN from
Audience Research; the WOMAN is VP Daytime Programming
West Coast. They are all sitting around a typical
mod-shaped conference table except for DIANA who is
moving towards a large display board at the far end
of the table stretching the length of the wall. This
is an improvised programming "board". It shows --
through movable heavy cardboard pieces -- what all
four networks have on by the half hour for all seven
days of the week --
Wednesday night looks weak on
all three of the other networks
for next September, so we
concentrate on Wednesday night.
We're going to expand the Howard
Beale show to an hour in
January, which'll give us a
hell of a lead-in to eight
o'clock. So, on Wednesday
nights, I want to follow that
with two strong dramatic hours,
no sit-coms, nothing lightweight --
BILL HERRON pokes his head into the room --
I've got Laureen Hobbs' lawyer
on the phone. Is five-thirty okay,
and where would you like to meet,
here or at the hotel?
Let's put Hy Norman at five --
Five-thirty is fine, and at my
office, if they don't mind.
(back to her "board"
and her exhortation
to the programming
-- What I want right now are movies
of the week we can use for pilots.
I want five movies of the week ready
by March at the outside, preferably
114. INT. UBS BUILDING WEST COAST - DIANA'S OFFICE
An utterly bland office kept for visiting firemen.
DIANA is behind the desk. BARBARA SCHLESINGER is
sitting on the couch. GLENN KOSSOFF is ushering TWO
GENTLEMEN out, spots someone in the outer office --
Hy, come on in --
He ushers in a silver-haired, suntanned, fresh-from-
the-tennis-court man dressed in California elegance,
rakish blazer, archetype of all L.A. television pack-
agers -- HY NORMAN --
Hy, I think you know Barbara
Schlesinger, but I don't know
if you know Diana Christenson --
(sinking casually into
the visitor's chair,
crossing his legs,
flashing a fully-capped
set of teeth)
As a matter of fact, I think we
met during the 1972 McGovern-for-
President campaign, of which, I
am proud to say, I was a principal
fund raiser --
(leaning across the desk
to shake his hand)
No, I'm afraid not. Now, Hy, we're
running a little late, so I'd like
to get right to it. I have an idea
for an hour television series, and
I'd like to lay it in your lap.
Here's the back-up story. The hero
is white-collar middle-class, an
architect, aviation engineer,
anything, a decent law-abiding
man. He lives with his wife and
daughter in a large city. His
wife and daughter are raped and
he's mugged. He appeals to the
police, but their hands are tied
by the Warren Court decisions.
There's nothing but pornography
in the movies, and vandals bomb
his church. The animals are
taking over. So he decides to
take the law into his own hands.
He buys a gun, practices till he's
an expert. He takes up karate,
becomes a black belt, an adept in
Kung Fu and all the other martial
arts. Now, he starts walking the
streets of the city, decoying muggers
into preying on him. He kung fu's
them all. Pretty soon, he's joined
by a couple of neighbors. What
we've got now is a vigilante group.
That's the name of the show -- the
Vigilantes. The idea is, if the
law won't protect the decent people,
they have to take the law into their
That may be he most fascistic idea
I've heard in years.
And a shameless steal from a movie
called "Death Wish."
I know. And, so far, "Death Wish"
has grossed seventeen million domes-
tic. It obviously struck a pulse in
Americans. I want to strike the
same pulse. Now, let me finish, Hy.
The format is simple. Every week a
crime is committed, and the police
are helpless to deal with it. The
victim turns to our group of vigi-
lantes. What the hell, it's FBI,
Mission Impossible, Kojack, except
the heroes are ordinary citizens,
your neighbors and mine.
I find the whole thing repulsive.
You give me a pilot script we can
use as a movie of the week for
January, and I'll commit to twelve
segments on the basis of that script.
You'll commit on the basis of the
That's what I said. That's a three
million dollar commitment. I figure
you could skim a quarter of a million
for yourself out of that. Of course,
we all know you're a highly principled
political liberal, and you may find
this kind of show repulsive --
(slowly sitting again)
Well -- not necessarily. I deplore
vigilante tactics, of course, but
the vigilante tradition is a profound,
even proud tradition in the American
social fabric. This sort of program
also offers opportunities for coming
to grips with the burning issues of
our times, to do meaningful drama and
at the same time providing mass enter-
Who do I talk numbers with,
Right. I'll call Charlie and tell
him we'll go to forty thousand
for the first script. If you come
in with anything good, Hy, I'll
slot you on Wednesday nights at
eight coming right off the Howard
Beale Show, and that's the best
lead-in you'll ever get.
NORMAN opens the door to leave, looks out into the
outer office, closes the door, turns to DIANA.
Is that Laureen Hobbs out there?
What the hell is Laureen Hobbs
doing out there?
We're going to put the Communist
Party on prime-time television, Hy.
I wouldn't doubt it for a minute.
115. DIANA'S OFFICE - LATER
He opens the door and goes out. On his heels, GLENN
KOSSOFF is already ushering in BILL HERRON, LAUREEN
HOBBS, (a handsome black woman of 35 in Afro and
dashiki); SAM HAYWOOD, (late 50's, a shaggy, unkempt
lawyer in the Clarence Darrow tradition, galluses,
string-tie, folksy drawl and all).; a younger lawyer,
ROBERT MURPHY, (early 30's, Harvard intellectual type);
and THREE AGENTS from the William Morris Office named
LENNIE, WALLIE and ED, (all in their mid-30's, all
wearing trim blue suits and all indistinguishable from
each other). DIANA rises to greet them, extends her
hand to LAUREEN HOBBS --
Christ, you brought half the William
Morris West Coast office with you.
I'm Diana Christenson, a racist lackey
of the imperialist ruling circles.
I'm Laureen Hobbs, a bad-ass Commie
Sounds like the basis of a firm
We're going to need more chairs --
In b.g., meanwhile, SCHLESINGER is exchanging hellos
with the THREE WILLIAM MORRIS AGENTS and is being
introduced to the LAWYERS and looking at baby pictures
proffered to her by one of the agents. It's all jolly
as hell, a lot of chuckling and smiling --
Anybody want coffee?
Black with Sucaryl --
KOSSOFF and a SECRETARY are hauling in chairs --
(introducing to DIANA)
This is my lawyer, Sam Haywood,
and his associate, Robert Murphy --
Handshakes, nods, smiles, everybody begins to sit. The
SECRETARY goes around taking coffee orders
(an old union lawyer,
given to peroration)
Well, MS. Christenson, just what
the hell's this all about? Because
when a national television
network in the person of bubby
-- comes to me and says he wants
to put the ongoing struggle of the
oppressed masses on prime-time
television, I have to regard this
More chairs are brought in. DIANA would answer HAYWOOD
but he booms along, beginning to hit his stride
I have to figure this as an
antithetical distraction. The
thesis here, if you follow me, is
that the capitalist state is in a
terminal condition now, and the
anti- thesis is the maturation of
the fascist state, and when the
correlative appendages of the
fascist state come and say to me
they want to give the revolution a
weekly hour of prime-time
television, I've got to figure this
is preventive co-optation, right? --
The necessary chairs are in by now, and everyone is
seated. The SECRETARY has gone off to fetch the coffee.
A sudden HUSH follows HAYWOOD's Hegelian instruction,
and DIANA would answer, but HAYWOOD is now center-stage,
into the full swell of rhetoric --
The ruling classes are running
scared, right? You turned the full
force of your cossack cops and
paramilitary organs of repression
against us. But now the slave masters
hear the rumble of revolution in their
ears. So you have no alternative but
to co-opt us. Put us on teevee and
pull our fangs. And we're supposed
to sell out, right? For your gang-
stergold? Well, we're not going to
sell out, baby! You can take your
fascist teevee and shove it right
up your paramilitary ass! I'm here
to tell you, we don't sell out! We
don't want your gold! We're not
going on your teevee!
A moment of HUSH, in which everybody digests this opening
Oh, shit, Mr. Haywood, if you're not
interested in my offer, why the hell
did you bring two lawyers and three
agents from the William Morris office
What Mr. Haywood was saying, Ms.
Christenson, was that our client,
Ms. Hobbs, wants it up front that
the political content of the show
has to be entirely in her control.
She can have it. I don't give a
damn about the political content.
What kind of show'd you have in
We're interested in doing a weekly
dramatic series based on the Ecumen-
ical Liberation Army, and I'll tell
you what the first show has to be --
a two-hour special on Mary Ann Gifford.
We open this two-hour special with
that bank rip-off footage, which is
terrific stuff, and then we tell
the story of how a rich young heiress
like Mary Ann Gifford becomes a
flaming revolutionary. Would you
people be interested in making such
a movie for us?
Everybody looks to LAUREEN HOBBS.
The Ecumenical Liberation Army is
an ultra-left sect creating political
confusion with wildcat violence and
pseudo-insurrectionary acts, which
the Communist Party does not endorse.
The American masses are not yet ready
for open revolt. We would not want
to produce a television show cele-
brating historically deviational
Even better. I see the story this
way. Poor little rich girl kid-
napped by ultra-left sect. She
falls in love with the leader of
the gang, converts to his irrespon-
sible violence. But then she meets
you, understands the true nature of
the ongoing people's struggle for
a better society, and, in an emotion-
drenched scene, she leaves her devia-
tional lover and dedicates herself to
you and the historical inevitability
of the socialist state.
That would be better, of course.
What kind of numbers are we talking,
We'll give you our top deal, which
I think is two fifteen and twenty-
five. You'll have to talk to
Charlie Kinkaid about that. But
as long as we're talking series
now, I'll tell you what I want.
I want a lot more film like the
bank rip-off the Ecumenicals sent
in. The way I see this series is
every week we open with the authen-
tic footage of an act of political
terrorism, taken on the spot and
in the actual moment; then we go
into the drama behind the opening
film footage. That's your job, Ms.
Hobbs. You've got to get the
Ecumenicals to bring in that film
for us. The network can't deal
with them directly. They are,
after all, wanted criminals.
The Ecumenicals are an undisciplined
ultra-left gang, and the leader is
an eccentric to say the least. He
calls himself the Great Ahmed Khan
and wears a hussar's shako.
Ms. Hobbs, I'm offering you an hour
of prime-time television every week
into which you can stick whatever
propaganda you want. We're talking
about thirty to fifty million people
a shot. That's a lot better than
handing out mimeographed pamphlets
on ghetto street corners.
I'll have to take this matter to
the Central Committee, and I'd
better check this out with the
Great Ahmed Khan.
I'll be in L.A. until Saturday, and
I'd like to get this thing rolling.
(smiles at SCHLESINGER,
HERRON and KOSSOFF)
That's going to be our Wednesday
night. Seven to eight -- Howard
Beale; eight to nine -- the
Vigilantes; nine to ten -- the Mao
Tse Tung Hour.
God, fascism and the revolution all
on one night.
(tired, rubs her eyes)
I suppose that's what's called
116. EXT. A SMALL ISOLATED FARMHOUSE IN ENCINO - NIGHT
LAUREEN HOBBS, sitting on the stoop of the front porch
talking to another member of the Central Committee,
a middle-aged white man named WITHERSPOON. The door
behind them opens, and DOWLING, a young white man in
his 20's, wearing a fatigue jacket and torn Levi's and
dark sunglasses, pokes his head out:
LAUREEN and WITHERSPOON rise, go up the steps and
follow DOWLING into --
117. INT. THE ECUMENICALS' HEADQUARTERS - ENTRANCE FOYER
Dark. An absolute shambles. Cartons, crates, news-
papers and scraps of food have been littered about.
A young black man, WATKINS, (early 20's, standing on
the stairway to the second floor holding an army rifle),
watches LAUREEN and WITHERSPOON following DOWLING, and
himself follows them into --
118. INT. DINING ROOM
-- or what had been the dining room. A naked overhead
BULB is the only light in here. Sitting on a wooden
folding chair is the GREAT AHMED KHAN, a powerful,
brooding black man in his early 30's. He wears a
hussar's shako and the crescent moon of the Midianites
hanging pendant around his neck. The chair he sits on
is the only visible piece of furniture. There are two
tattered sleeping bags on the floor, part of a general
welter of torn newspapers, empty grocery bags, ham-
burger leftovers, etc. The walls are bare except for
blowups of Che Guevara, Mao, Marlon Brando and Jane
Fonda, scotch-taped to the torn wall-paper. Cartons
and crates here and there, automatic guns leaning
against the walls. Boxes of ammunition and grenades
and mortar shells stacked against a wall. In atten-
dance on the GREAT AHMED KHAN is a young black woman
in her late 20's, named JENKINS, and a young white
woman in her early 20's, MARY ANN GIFFORD, who is a
fire-eating militant with a bandolier of cartridges
across her torn shirt and with a B.A.R. held in her
hands. LAUREEN pulls up an empty crate, sits, waves
a limp hand of hello to the others and regards the
GREAT KHAN --
Well, Ahmed, you ain't going to
believe this, but I'm going to
make a teevee star out of you.
Just like Archie Bunker. You're
going to be a household word.
What the fuck are you talking about?
MUSIC: A RATAPLAN OF KETTLEDRUMS AND A TARANTARA OF
119. INT. UBS BUILDING - NEW YORK - A CONTROL ROOM - MONDAY,
JANUARY 27, 1975
Everybody murmuring away --
(murmurs into mike)
-- and one --
The Show Monitor cuts to a beaming ANNOUNCER --
Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear
it -- how do you feel?
SHOW MONITOR now shows packed AUDIENCE happily roaring:
We're mad as hell, and we're not
going to take this any more!
120. INT. THE STUDIO
The ANNOUNCER beaming away in front of a curtain --
Ladies and Gentlemen! The Network
News Hour! --
121. INT. CONTROL ROOM
The SHOW MONITOR --
ANNOUNCER (ON MONITOR)
-- with Sybil the Soothsayer, Jim
Webbing and his It's-the-Emmes-
Truth Department, Miss Mata Hari
tonight another segment of Vox
Populi, and starring --
MUSIC: A FLOURISH OF DRUMS.
-- the mad prophet of the airways,
Howard Beale! --
MUSIC: A FULL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA SOARS INTO AN
IMPERIAL CRESCENDO --
122. INT. THE STUDIO
-- as the HOUSE LIGHTS go to BLACK. The curtain slowly
rises. An absolutely bare stage except for one stained
glass window, suspended by wires high above stage left
through which shoots an overpowering SHAFT of LIGHT
as if emanating from heaven. HOWARD BEALE, in an
austere black suit with black tie shambles on from the
wings, finds the SPOTLIGHT and stands there for a moment
shielding his eyes from the blinding light. TUMULTUOUS
APPLAUSE from the AUDIENCE.
(erupts into a Savonarola-
Edward George Ruddy died today!
Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman
of the Board of the Union Broad-
casting Systems -- and woe is us
if it ever falls in the hands of
the wrong people. And that's why
woe is us that Edward George Ruddy
died. Because this network is now
in the hands of CC and A the
Communications Corporation of
America. We've got a new Chairman
of the Board, a man named Frank
Hackett now sitting in Mr. Ruddy's
office on the twentieth floor. And
when the twelfth largest company in
the world controls the most awesome
goddamned propaganda force in the
whole godless world, who knows what
shit will be peddled for truth on
this tube? So, listen to me!
Television is not the truth! Tele-
vision is a goddamned amusement
park, that's what television is!
Television is a circus, a carnival,
a travelling troupe of acrobats and
story-tellers, singers and dancers,
jugglers, side-show freaks, lion-
tamers and football players. We're
in the boredom-killing business!
If you want truth, go to God, go
to your guru, go to yourself because
that's the only place you'll ever
find any real truth! But, man,
you're never going to get any truth
from us. We'll tell you anything
you want to hear. We lie like hell!
We'll tell you Kojack always gets
the killer, and nobody ever gets
cancer in Archie Bunker's house.
And no matter how much trouble the
hero is in, don't worry: just look
at your watch -- at the end of the
hour, he's going to win. We'll
tell you any shit you want to hear!
We deal in illusion, man! None of
it's true! But you people sit there
-- all of you -- day after day, night
after night, all ages, colors, creeds
-- we're all you know. You're
beginning to believe this illusion
we're spinning here. You're be-
ginning to think the tube is reality
and your own lives are unreal. You
do whatever the tube tells you. You
dress like the tube, you eat like
the tube, you raise your children
like the tube, you think like the
tube. This is mass madness, you
maniacs! In God's name, you people
are the real thing! We're the illu-
sions! So turn off this goddam
set! Turn it off right now! Turn
it off and leave it off. Turn it
off right now, right in the middle
of this very sentence I'm speaking
At which point, HOWARD BEALE, sweating and red-eyed with
his prophetic rage, collapses to the floor in a pro-
123. INT. CC AND A CONFERENCE ROOM - CC AND A BUILDING -
MONDAY, JANUARY 27
A Valhalla of a room taking up the 43rd and 44th floors
of the CC and A Building. It is dark and theatrical,
the lighting at the moment being provided by the shaft
of LIGHT issuing from a slide projector at the back of
the room onto a large SCREEN on the raised podium where
FRANK HACKETT in banker's gray stands making his annual
report. On the SCREEN, we see charts of figures, one
after the other, which accompany HACKETT's explication.
A little red ARROW darts from one figure to another as
HACKETT drones on. Seated in a semi-circular arrange-
ment like a miniature United Nations are 214 SENIOR
EXECUTIVES, (late 40's, 50's, and 60's). They each
have their own little desks with swivel chairs, pin-
spot lights, piles of bound company reports, and name
plates giving their names and companies they represent.
NOTE one specific CHAIR in the dead center of the first
row that swivels back and forth, back and forth --
-- UBS was running at a cash-flow
breakeven point after taking into
account one hundred and ten million
dollars of negative cash-flow from
the network. Note please the added
thirty-five millions resulting from
the issuance of the subordinated sink-
ing debentures. It was clear the fat
on the network had to be flitched off --
ANOTHER CLOSER ANGLE on the CHAIR in the first row that
keeps swiveling back and forth.
(on podium, as a new
glide of charts flashes
Please note an increase in pro-
jected initial programming rev-
enues in the amount of twenty-one
million dollars due to the phenom-
enal success of the Howard Beale
show. I expect a positive cash-
flow for the entire complex of
forty-five million achievable in
this fiscal year, a year, in short,
ahead of schedule --
ANOTHER ANGLE closer on the swiveling CHAIR but still
not revealing its occupant.
I go beyond that. This network may
well be the most significant profit
center of the communications complex --
FULL SHOT of HACKETT barely concealing his pride --
-- and, based upon the projected rate
of return on invested capital, and if
merger is eventually accomplished,
the communications complex may well
become the towering and most profit-
able center in the entire CC and A
empire. I await your questions and
comments. Mr. Jensen?
CAMERA PANS ACROSS the huge dark room of tiered seats
to the swiveling CHAIR in the front row which now
swivels to face CAMERA, revealing a short, balding,
bespectacled man with a Grant Woods face. This is
ARTHUR JENSEN, the President and Chairman of the Board
of CC and A.
Very good, Frank. Exemplary.
Keep it up --
TIGHT SHOT of HACKETT, basking in this praise, suffused
with pride --
124. INT. TEMPLE EMANUEL - NEW YORK - TUESDAY, JANUARY 28 -
EDWARD GEORGE RUDDY lying in state.
ANOTHER ANGLE showing the vaulted reaches of the Temple
packed with a standing room audience of condolers with
the white yarmalka-ed RABBI in b.g. officiating. All
the NETWORK BRASS are spotted around the congregation.
CLOSER ANGLE ACROSS MAX among the condolers, following
his eyes to several rows of pews down on the other side
of the aisle where DIANA is sitting. Aware of MAX's
eyes on her, she turns her face a bit so that their eyes
meet briefly. She smiles, turns back to the RABBI's
125. EXT. 65TH STREET - MAIN ENTRANCE - TEMPLE EMANUEL - DAY -
SNOW drifting down. CROWD of overcoated condolers flood-
ing the sidewalk. A cortege of black limousines lined
up in front of the temple as FUNERAL DIRECTORS guide
condolers into their respective limousines. A curious
crowd of PASSERSBY watch. MAX SCHUMACHER threads his
way through the CRUSH to where DIANA CHRISTENSON stands,
murmuring to NELSON CHANEY and WALTER AMUNDSEN, all
bundled up in winter coats. There are muttered "Hello,
Max, how are you's" and "How's everything, Walter," etc.
Buy you a cup of coffee?
Good-byes all around, and MAX and DIANA move off through
the fringe of the CRUSH on the sidewalk. CAMERA DOLLIES
with them. They turn the corner onto --
126. EXT. FIFTH AVENUE - DAY - SNOW
They head downtown. They walk silently. SNOW drifts
down on them. CAMERA DOLLIES with them.
Do you have to get back to the
Nothing that can't wait.
They walk on silently.
(after a moment)
I drop down to the news studios
every now and then and ask Howard
Beale about you. He says you're
doing fine. Are you?
Are you keeping busy?
After a fashion. This is the
third funeral I've been to in two
weeks. I have two other friends
in hospital whom I visit regularly.
I've been to a couple of christenings.
All my friends seem to be dying or
You should be a grandfather about
now. You have a pregnant daughter
in Seattle, don't you?
Any day now. My wife's out there
for the occasion. I've thought
many times of calling you.
I wish you had.
They both suddenly stop on Fifth Avenue between 65th
and 64th Streets and regard each other. An occasional
snowflake moistens their cheeks, wets their hair.
I bumped into Sybil the Soothsayer
in the elevator last week. I said:
"You know, Sybil, about four months
ago, you predicted I would get
involved with a middle-aged man,
and, so far, all that's happened
is one many-splendored night. I
don't call that getting involved."
And she said: "Don't worry. You
will." It was a many-splendored
night, wasn't it, Max?
Yes, it was.
Are we going to get involved, Max?
Yes. I need to get involved very
much. How about you?
I've reached for the phone to call
you a hundred times, but I was sure
you hated me for my part in taking
your news show away.
I probably did. I don't know any
more. All I know is I can't keep
you out of my mind.
They stare at each other, bemused by the abrupt fragile
explosion of their feelings. The SNOW drifts down.
PEDESTRIANS move back and forth around them. The Fifth
Avenue TRAFFIC honks and grinds its way downtown.
My God, she's uncanny.
Sybil the Soothsayer. We've got
a modern-day Greek drama here, Max.
Two star-crossed lovers ordained
to fall disastrously in love by
the gods. A December-May story.
Happily married middle-aged man
meets desperately lonely young
career woman, let's say a violinist.
They both know their illicit love
can only end in tragedy, but they
are cursed by the gods and plunge
dementedly in love. For a few
brief moments, they are happy. He
abandons devoted wife and loving
children, and she throws away her
concert career. Their friends plead
with them to give each other up, but
they are helpless playthings in the
hands of malignant gods. Their love
sours, embittered by ugly little
jealousies, cryptic rancors. The
soothsayer appears again and warns
the girl she will die if she per-
sists in this heedless love affair.
She defies the soothsayer. But
now one of the man's children is
rushed to the hospital with a
mysterious disease. He rushes
back to his family, and she is left
to throw herself on the railroad
tracks. Give me a two-page outline
on it, Max. I might be able to
sell it to Xerox.
A bit too austere for teevee, I
You're right. We wouldn't get
an 11 rating. How about a twist
on Brief Encounter? Happily
married man meets woman married
to her career.
NBC did Brief Encounter last year,
and it sank.
Well, we're both a bit long in the
tooth to try for Romeo and Juliet.
Why don't we just wing it?
She laughs, then he. A PASSERBY darts them a curious
127. INT. MAX'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - MONDAY, FEBRUARY
MAX and his wife, LOUISE, in the middle of an ugly
domestic scene. LOUISE sits erect on an overstuffed
chair, her eyes wet with imminent tears; MAX strides
around the room. He is clearly under great stress.
How long has it been going on?
(prowling around the room)
A month. I thought at first it
might be a transient thing and
blow over in a week. I still
hope to God it's just a menopausal
infatuation. But it is an infa-
tuation, Louise. There's no sense
my saying I won't see her again
because I will. Do you want me
to clear out, go to a hotel?
Do you love her?
I don't know how I feel. I'm
grateful I still feel anything.
I know I'm obsessed with her.
Then say it! Don't keep telling me
you're obsessed, you're infatuated
-- say you're in love with her!
I'm in love with her.
Then get out, go to a hotel, go
anywhere you want, go live with
her, but don't come back! Because
after twenty-five years of building
a home and raising a family and all
the senseless pain we've inflicted
on each other, I'll be damned if I'll
just stand here and let you tell me
you love somebody else!
(now it's she striding
around, weeping, a
Because this isn't just some con-
vention weekend with your secretary,
is it? Or some broad you picked up
after three belts of booze. This
is your great winter romance, isn't
it?, your last roar of passion be-
fore you sink into your emeritus
years. Is that what's left for me?
Is that my share? She gets the great
winter passion, and I get the dotage?
Am I supposed to sit at home knitting
and purling till you slink back like
a penitent drunk? I'm your wife,
damn it! If you can't work up a
winter passion for me, then the
least I require is respect and
allegiance! I'm hurt! Don't you
understand that? I'm hurt badly!
She stares, her cheeks streaked with tears, at MAX
standing at the terrace glass door, staring blindly
out, his own eyes wet and welling. After a moment,
he turns and regards his anguished wife.
Say something, for God's sake.
I've got nothing to say.
He enfolds her; she sobs on his chest.
(after a moment)
Are you that deeply involved with
I won't give you up easily, Max.
He struggles to restrain his tears. She releases her-
self from his embrace.
I think the best thing is if you
did move out. Does she love you,
I'm not sure she's capable of any
real feelings. She's the television
generation. She learned life from
Bugs Bunny. The only reality she
knows is what comes over her teevee
set. She has devised a variety of
scenarios for us all to play, as
if it were a Movie of the Week.
And, my God!, look at us, Louise.
Here we are going through the obli-
gatory middle-of-Act-Two scorned
wife throws peccant husband out scene.
But, no fear, I'll come back home
in the end. All her plot outlines
have me leaving her and returning
to you because the audience won't
buy a rejection of the happy
American family. She does have
one script in which I kill myself,
an adapted for television version
of Anna Karenina in which she's
Count Vronsky and I'm Anna.
You're in for some dreadful grief,
128. INT. UBS BUILDING - N.Y. - DIANA'S OFFICE, FRIDAY,
FEBRUARY 28, 1975
DIANA, murmuring into her squawk box and, at the same
time, putting last minute things into a weekend bag.
She is ebullient --
(on squawk box)
... I know what NBC offered them,
Marty, so I'm saying go to three
point five, and I want an option
for a third run on all of them
... Marty, I'm in a big hurry, and
you and Charlie are supposed to be
negotiating this, so goodbye and
good luck, and I'll see you Monday ...
Clicks off her squawk box, snaps her weekend bag shut,
whisks her sheep wool-lined coat out of her closet and
strides out into --
129. INT. DIANA'S SECRETARY'S OFFICE
-- where there is no one sitting, and continues out
130. INT. PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT - COMMON ROOM
where a few SECRETARIES are still at their desks.
TOMMY PELLEGRINO is just coming out of his office --
(calls to DIANA)
Jimmy Caan's agent just called
and says absolutely nix.
You can't win them all.
Where can I reach you later today?
You can't. I'll be gone all weekend.
PELLEGRINO turns to BARBARA SCHLESINGER now poking her
head out of her office --
I think the Dragon Lady got her-
self a dragon fellow.
131. EXT. UBS BUILDING - SIXTH AVENUE - AFTERNOON - DAY
DIANA, now wearing her sheep wool-lined coat and carry-
ing her weekend bag, comes striding happily out through
the entrance doors, heads for 55th Street, spots a
double-parked car, and heads heedless of traffic
across the street to --
132. EXT. 55TH STREET - DAY
MAX SCHUMACHER in a rented Chevy, leaning across to
open the door for her. She slips into the front seat,
slams the door shut, nestles her head on MAX'S over-
coated shoulder, as he starts the ignition --
(happy and in love)
NBC's offering three point two
and a half mil per for a package
of five James Bond pictures, and
I think I'm going to steal them
for three point five with a third
They move out into the heavy traffic of Sixth Avenue --
133. EXT. DESERTED BEACH IN THE HAMPTONS - DUSK
Traditional lyric love scene. The two mackinawed
lovers walking hand-in-hand on a lovely stretch of
deserted winter beach. The tide is coming in --
The vigilante show is sold firm.
Ford took a complete position at,
so help me, five-fifty CPM. In
fact, I'm moving the vigilante
show to nine and I'm going to
stick the Mao Tse Tung Hour in
at eight because we're having a
lot of trouble selling the Mao
Tse Tung Hour. This way we give
it a terrific lead-in from the
Howard Beale Show and we'll back
into the vigilantes, and it
certainly ought to carry its own
time slot --
134. INT. A ROMANTIC LITTLE ITALIAN RESTAURANT
The obligatory Italian restaurant, checkered table-
cloth, candles, wine, etc. DIANA and MAX at dinner,
utterly rapt in each other --
(pouring out her heart)
That Mao Tse Tung Hour is turning
into one big pain in the ass.
We're having heavy legal problems
with the federal government right
now. Two FBI guys turned up in
Hackett's office last week and
served us with a subpoena. They
heard about our Flagstaff bank
rip-off film, and they want it.
We're getting around that by
doing the show in collaboration
with the News Division, so Hackett
told the FBI to fuck off; we're
standing on the First Amendment,
freedom of the press, and the
right to protect our sources --
135. EXT. MOTOR COURT - NIGHT
DIANA and MAX getting out of their car and heading
for one of the ground-level rooms, MAX unlocking the
(chirping merrily along)
-- Walter thinks we can knock out
the misprision of felony charge --
They go into --
136. INT. MOTOR COURT - THEIR ROOM
MAX flicks the light on, kicks the door shut, and they
are instantly into each other's arms in a passionate
-- but he says absolutely nix
on going to series. They'll hit
us with inducement and conspiracy
to commit a crime --
She busily removes her shoes and unbuttons her blouse
and whisks out of her slacks; and, down to her bikini
panties, she is now scouring the walls for a thermostat.
Christ, it's cold in here --
(she turns up
You see we're paying these nuts
from the Ecumenical Liberation Army
ten thousand bucks a week to bring
in authentic film footage on their
revolutionary activities, and that
constitutes inducement to commit
a crime; and Walter says we'll all
wind up in federal prison --
Nubile and nearly naked, she entwines herself around
MAX, who, by now, has stripped down to his trousers;
and the two hungering bodies slide down onto the bed
where they commence an affable moment of amative
and unzippering MAX's
-- I said: "Walter, let the government
sue us! We'll take them to the
Supreme Court! We'll be front page
for months! The Washington Post
and the New York Times will be doing
two editorials a week about us!
We'll have more press than Watergate!"
Groping, grasping, gasping and fondling, they contrive
to denude each other, and, in a fever of sexual hunger,
DIANA mounts MAX, and the SCREEN is filled with the
voluptuous writhings of love, DIANA crying out with
increasing exultancy --
(in the throes
-- All I need -- is six weeks
of federal litigation -- and the
Mao Tse Tung Hour -- can start
carrying its own time slot!
She screams in consummation, sighs a long, deliciously
shuddering sigh, and sinks softly down into MAX's
embrace. For a moment, she rests her head on MAX's
chest, eyes closed in feline contentment.
(after a moment,
What's really bugging me now is my
daytime programming. NBC's got a
lock on daytime with their lousy
game shows, and I'd like to bust
them. I'm thinking of doing a
homosexual soap opera -- The Dykes
-- the heart-rending saga of a
woman helplessly in love with her
husband's mistress. What do you
The Mary Ann Gifford pilot movie
went on the air March 14th --
137. EXT. A SMALL ISOLATED FARMHOUSE IN ENCINO - NIGHT
A black LIMOUSINE winds its way up the dirt road to
the front porch, where the car is halted and checked
out by an armed guard (DOWLING) --
-- It received a 47 share in its
first hour, climbing to a 51 during
its second hour --
Slivers of lights slither out from behind the drawn
shades of the farmhouse, and we can hear the sounds of
TWO AGENTS from ICM disgorge from the limousine -- a
young man in his early 30's, FREDDIE, carrying a large
manila envelope, and a fat young woman in her mid-30's,
HELEN MIGGS, carrying an attach, case --
-- showing sustained and increasing
audience interest. The network
promptly committed to fifteen
MIGGS and FREDDIE go up the porch and into --
138. INT. THE FARMHOUSE - ENTRANCE FOYER
Cartons, crates, newspapers, scraps of food, torn
grocery bags, stacks of pamphlets, cases of weapons and
ammunition, broken furniture and sleeping bags are
littered every which way about. There seems to be some
sort of conference going on in the living room, O.S.
-- with an option for ten more --
139. As the TWO ICM AGENTS head for the living room,
we can see LAUREEN HOBBS and the three William
Norris agents, WALLIE, LENNIE and ED, perhaps
remembered from earlier scenes. We can also see
the GREAT AHMED KHAN, still wearing his shako, MARY
ANN GIFFORD, still wearing her bandoliers of bullets,
and OTHER MEMBERS of the Khan's group in fatigues
and bearing arms. There is also a middle-aged LAWYER
from ICM named WILLIE STEIN. Everybody -- with the
exception of the GREAT KHAN's retinue -- is seated
on broken chairs and cartons and crates --
-- There were, of course, the usual
production difficulties --
Everybody in the living room conference is studying
80-page contracts from which one of the agents (WALLIE)
is reading --
-- "herein called either 'the
Production Fee' or 'overhead' equal
to twenty percent two-oh (except
such percentage shall be thirty
percent three-oh for ninety minute
or longer television programs --
140. INT. THE FARMHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
(a nervous man, to the new
arrivals, now entering)
Where the hell have you been?
Ahmed, sweet, that dodo you sent
for a driver couldn't find this
There is a genial exchange of helloes and waves between
the phalanxes of AGENTS --
Let's get on with this before
they raid this place, and we all
wind up in the joint.
(to FREDDIE now
pulling up a crate)
We're on Schedule A, page seven,
small c small i --
(whisking through her
copy of the contract)
Have we settled that sub-licensing
thing? We want a clear definition
here. Gross proceeds should consist
of all funds the sublicensee receives
not merely the net amount remitted
after payment to sublicensee or
We're not sitting still for over-
head charges as a cost prior to
(whose nerves have
worn thin, explodes:)
Don't fuck with my distribution
costs! I'm getting a lousy two-
fifteen per segment, and I 'm already
deficiting twenty-five grand a week
with Metro. I'm paying William
Morris ten percent off the top!
-- And I'm giving this turkey ten
thou a segment and another five for
this fruitcake --
(meaning MARY ANN GIFFORD)
And, Helen, don't start no shit
with me about a piece again!
I'm paying Metro twenty percent of
all foreign and Canadian distribution,
and that's after recoupment! The
Communist Party's not going to see
a nickel out of this goddam show
until we go into syndication!
Come on, Laureen, you've got the
party in there for seventy-five
hundred a week production expenses.
I'm not giving this pseudo in-
surrectionary sectarian a piece
of my show! I'm not giving him
script approval! And I sure as
shit ain't cutting him in on my
distribution charges I
MARY ANN GIFFORD
(screaming in from
Fuggin fascist! Have you seen the
movies we took at the San Marino
jail break-out demonstrating the
rising up of a seminal prisoner-
You can blow the seminal prisoner-
class infrastructure out your ass!
I'm not knocking down my goddam
The GREAT KHAN decides to offer an opinion by SHOOTING
his PISTOL off into the air. This gives everybody
something to consider, especially WILLIE STEIN who
almost has a heart attack.
THE GREAT KHAN
Man, give her the fucking over-
How did I get here? Who's going
to believe this? I'm sitting here
in a goddam farm in Encino at ten
o'clock at night negotiating over-
head charges with cowboys!
THE GREAT KHAN
Let's get to page twenty-two,
five, small a, subsidiary rights.
Everybody starts flipping through their contracts.
Where are we now?
Page twenty-two, middle of the
page, subsidiary rights --
(begins to read)
"As used herein, 'subsidiary
rights' means, without limitation,
any and all rights with respect
to theatrical motion picture
rights, radio broadcasting, legiti-
mate stage performances, printed
publications (including, but not
limited to, hard-cover books, but
excluding paperback books and comic
books) and/or any other uses of a
similar or dissimilar nature --
141. EXT. FRONT OF THE CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL - WEDNESDAY,
MAY 28 - 6:00 P.M. - DAY
A HOTEL MARQUEE which reads:
WELCOME UBS AFFILIATES CONVENTION
Across the marquee, looking down on the CRUSH of station
managers, program executives and sales vice-presidents
from the various affiliates, all tuxedoed and
evening-gowned and milling about. Spotted in the
cheerful CRUSH can be seen DIANA, MR. AND MRS. AMUNDSEN,
MR. AND MRS. ZANGWILL, jollying it up with the
affiliates' executives and their wives --
142. INT. GRAND BALLROOM - COCKTAIL AREA - CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL
A huge BANNER reading UBS AFFILIATES 1975 hanging
high over the ballroom.
PAN DOWN to show 1000 tuxedoed and evening-gowned
PEOPLE, mostly middle-aged in the vast shuffle of
cocktail time -- HUBBUB, intermingling flux and a
slow general shuffling surge through the doors
leading into --
143. INT. GRAND BALLROOM
CLOSER ANGLE of the CRUSH of PEOPLE at the doors.
HERBERT THACKERAY, (VP Stations Relations,) and NORMAN
MOLDANIAN (VP Owned Stations,) with their WIVES and
carrying their drinks and exchanging pleasantries with
the GENERAL MANAGER of WJGL Cincinnati and his WIFE and
the GENERAL MANAGER of KBEX Albuquerque and his WIFE as
well as the SALES MANAGER of that station and his WIFE.
High CHATTER and HUBBUB, lots of hearty chuckles and
general Rotarian bonhomie. In b.g., FRANK HACKETT and
his WIFE exchanging Rotarian bonhomie with some other
GENERAL MANAGERS and PROGRAM DIRECTORS and SALES
MANAGERS of various affiliates and their WIVES --
144. ANOTHER ANGLE as DIANA, evening-gowned, beautiful,
glowing and effulgent, leans down from her place on the
dais to accept congratulatory comments from the SALES
MANAGER of KGIM, Boise, and his WIFE standing on the
floor level --
(pumping DIANA's hand)
-- Millard Villanova, Sales Manager,
KGIM, Boise -- my wife, here, Maureen --
My pleasure --
I just want to tell you we saw your
great stuff this afternoon, Di --
it was great --
Great, Millard --
She turns to accept some more enthusiastic greetings
from another GENERAL MANAGER and his WIFE being brought
down the dais to her by WALTER AMUNDSEN, (General
Counsel Network) --
145. WIDE ANGLE SHOT of the whole ballroom, dark, everybody
seated at their tables now, listening to an address by
NELSON CHANEY (President UBS Network), a spotlighted
figure at the podium --
-- Over the past two days, you've
all had opportunity to meet Diana
Christenson, our Vice President
in charge of programming. This
afternoon, you all saw some of
the stuff she's set up for the
new season --
CLOSER SHOT of CHANEY --
You all know she's the woman behind
the Howard Beale show. We know
she's beautiful. We know she's
brainy. I just think, before we
start digging into our Chateau-
briands, we ought to let her know
how we feel about her --
An OVATION from the AUDIENCE. In response to CHANEY's
beckoning, DIANA rises from her chair in the glistening
shadows of the dais and comes down to the podium. She
stands there -- showered with APPLAUSE, beaming,
We've got the number one show in
And, at next year's affiliates'
meeting, I'll be standing here
telling you we've got the top
ANOTHER ANGLE ACROSS HACKETT at the dais with DIANA
in b.g. An ASSISTANT MANAGER leans across HACKETT
and murmurs to him --
Last year, we were the number
four network -- next year, we're
HACKETT rises, murmurs apologies to his neighbors,
follows the ASSISTANT MANAGER through the shadows of
the dais and heads out --
It is exactly seven o'clock here
in Los Angeles. And right now over
a million homes using television
in this city are turning their dials
to channel 3-- and that's our channel!
MUSIC: A RATAPLAN OF KETTLEDRUMS AND A TARANTARA
146. INT. COCKTAIL AREA OF THE GRAND BALLROOM
A portable Teevee set perched on a bar --
ANNOUNCER (ON TV)
Ladies and gentlemen! -- let's
hear it! -- how do you feel?! --
STUDIO AUDIENCE (ON TV)
(happily roaring out)
We're mad as hell, and we're not
going to take this any more!
PULL BACK to show we are in the vast cocktail area of
the Grand Ballroom, now being cleared away by a staff of
WAITERS and BUSBOYS -- hors d'oeuvres, spreads and booze
being carried away, table and chairs being packed off,
linens being whisked and folded. A couple of WAITERS
are watching the Howard Beale show on the portable TV
set perched on the room's bar --
STUDIO ANNOUNCER (ON TV)
Ladies and gentlemen -- the mad
prophet of the airways -- Howard
On the TV set, the house lights go down, the curtain
rises, and, as before, bare stage, shimmering stained
glass window, an ethereal shaft of light, and HOWARD
BEALE in his austere black suit trudges out and
HOWARD (ON TV)
All right, listen to me! Listen
carefully! This is your goddam life
I'm talking about today! In this
country, when one company takes over
another company, they simply buy up
a controlling share of the stock.
But first they have to file notice
with the government. That's how
C.C. and A. -- the Communications
Corporation of America -- bought up
the company that owns this network.
And now somebody's buying up C.C.
and A! Some company named Western
World Funding Corporation is buying
up C.C. and A! They filed their
notice this morning! Well, just who
the hell is Western World Funding
Corporation? It's a consortium of
banks and insurance companies who
are not buying C.C. and A. for
themselves but as agents for
147. LONG WIDE ANGLE SHOT with TV set in f.g. showing the
spacious cocktail area being cleared away, as far across
the room the doors to the Ballroom open and HACKETT
follows the ASSISTANT MANAGER in. HACKETT lingers at
the doors while the ASSISTANT MANAGER gets a WAITER to
bring a jack phone to one of the tables still standing --
HOWARD (ON TV)
Well, who's this somebody else?
They won't tell you! They won't
tell you, they won't tell the
Senate, they won't tell the SEC,
the FCC, the Justice Department,
they won't tell anybody! They say
it's none of our business! The
hell it ain't! --
REVERSE ACROSS HACKETT as a jack phone is brought to
his table; the cluster around the TV set in b.g.
This is Mr. Hackett, do you have
a New York call for me?
(calls to cluster
around TV set)
Do you want to turn that down,
REVERSE ACROSS TV set with HACKETT in b.g.
HOWARD (ON TV)
(volume a bit down)
Well, I'll tell you who they're
buying C.C. and A. for. They're
buying it for the Saudi-Arabian
Investment Corporation! They're
buying it for the Arabs!
REVERSE ON HACKETT.
(on phone, the
Clarence? Frank Hackett here I
How's everything back in New York?
How's the good lady? --
(his face sobers)
-- All right, take it easy,
Clarence, I don't know what you're
take it easy. The Howard Beale
show's just going on out here. You
guys get it three hours earlier in
New York ... Clarence, take it
easy. How the hell could I see it?
It's just on now -- Well, when did
Mr. Jensen call you?
REVERSE ACROSS TV set. In b.g., HACKETT has hung up and is
slowly walking toward the group around the TV set --
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- We know the Arabs control more
than sixteen billion dollars in this
country! They own a chunk of Fifth
Avenue, twenty downtown pieces of
Boston, a part of the port of New
Orleans, an industrial park in Salt
Lake city. They own big hunks of
the Atlanta Hilton, the Arizona Land
and cattle Company, the Security
National Bank in California, the
Bank of the Commonwealth in Detroit!
They control ARAMCO, so that puts
them into Exxon, Texaco and Mobil
oil! They're all over - New Jersey,
Louisville, St.Louis, Missouri! And
that's only what we know about!
There's a hell of a lot more we
don't know about because all those
Arab petro-dollars are washed
through Switzerland and Canada and
the biggest banks in this country!
HACKETT peers over the shoulder of a WAITER to watch the
television show --
HOWARD (ON TV)
For example, what we don't know
about is this C.C.A. deal and all the
other C.C.A. deals!
Right now, the Arabs have screwed us
out of enough American dollars to
come back and, with our own money,
buy General Motors, IBM, ITT, A T
and T, Dupont, U.S. Steel, and
twenty other top American companies.
Hell, they already own half of England.
148. INT. A VIDEOTAPE ROOM - UBS BUILDING - LOS ANGELES
HACKETT, NELSON CHANEY and WALTER AMUNDSEN, all
tuxedoed, and DIANA, evening-gowned, sit and stand
in the dark smallish room, cluttered with electronic
equipment, watching a replay of the Howard Beale show
on the big screen. TWO TECHNICIANS fiddle with their
HOWARD' (ON SCREEN)
Now, listen to me, goddammit! The
Arabs are simply buying us! They're
buying all our land, our whole
economy, the press, the factories,
financial institutions, the
government! They're going to own
us! A handful of agas, shahs and
emirs who despise this country and
everything it stands for --
democracy, freedom, the right for me
to get up on television and tell you
about it -- a couple of dozen
medieval fanatics are going to own
where you work, where you live, what
you read, what you see, your cars,
your bowling alleys, your mortgages,
your schools, your churches, your
libraries, your kids, your whole
The son of a bitch is effective
all right --
HACKETT, who's seen all this already, isn't even watching.
He is sprawled in his chair, eyes closed, numbed, even
serene with despair.
HOWARD (ON SCREEN)
-- And there's not a single law on
the books to stop them! There's
only one thing that can stop them --
you! So I want you to get up now.
I want you to get out of your chairs
and go to the phone. Right now. I
want you to go to your phone or get
in your car and drive into the
Western Union office in town. I
want everybody listening to me to
get up right now and send a telegram
to the White House --
(sighs in soft anguish)
HOWARD (ON SCREEN)
By midnight tonight I want a million
telegrams in the White House! I
want them wading knee-deep in
telegrams at the White House! Get
up! Right now! And send President
Ford a telegram saying: "I'm mad as
hell and I'm not going to take this
any more! I don't want the banks
selling my country to the Arabs! I
want this C.C. and A. deal stopped
Oh, God --
HOWARD (ON SCREEN)
I want this C.C. and A. deal stopped
now! I want this C.C. and A. deal
At which point, HOWARD keels over in his now familiar
prophetic swoon. On SCREEN, ATTENDANTS come and carry
HOWARD off --
(to a TECHNICIAN)
Is that it? Does he come back
later in the show?
That's it. This is one of those
shows he just zonks out.
Do you want to see any more, Frank?
(HACKETT sits in
All right, turn it off --
The other TECHNICIAN pushes a button and the SCREEN
goes white. The first TECHNICIAN flicks the room
Do you want to go to your office?
HACKETT stares silently into space.
(to the TECHNICIANS)
Look, could we have the room?
149. The two TECHNICIANS exit. SILENCE fills the cluttered
room. AMUNDSEN and HACKETT sit in their chairs, CHANEY
leans against a side wall, DIANA lounges against a rear
wall. After a moment, AMUNDSEN stretches, stands --
Well, I'd like to see a typescript
and run it a couple of more times,
but I don't think he said anything
seriously actionable. But, as for
this whole C.C. and A. deal with the
Saudis, you'd know a lot more about
that than I would, Frank, is it
Yes. C.C. and A. has two billions
in loans with the Saudis, and they
hold every pledge we've got. We
need that Saudi money bad.
(he stands, so
wretched he is
A disaster. This show is a disaster,
an unmitigated disaster, the death
knell. I'm ruined, I'm dead, I'm
Maybe we're overstating Beale's
clout with the public.
An hour ago, Clarence McElheny called
me from New York. It was ten o'clock
in the East, and our people in the
White House report they were already
knee-deep in telegrams. By tomorrow
morning, they'll be suffocating in
Well, can the government stop the
They can hold it up. The SEC could
hold this deal up for twenty years
if they wanted to. I'm finished.
Any second that phone's going to
ring and Clarence McElheny's going
to tell me Mr. Jensen wants me in
his office tomorrow morning so he
can personally chop my head off.
Tears stream shamelessly down his cheeks as he shuffles,
a broken man, around the room.
Four hours ago, I was the sun God
at C.C. and A., Mr. Jensen's hand-
picked golden boy, the heir apparent.
Now I'm a man without a corporation!
(comes off the
Let's get back to Howard Beale.
You're not seriously going to pull
Beale off the air.
Mr. Jensen is unhappy with Howard
Beale and wants him discontinued.
He may be unhappy, but he isn't
stupid enough to withdraw the number
one show on television out of pique.
Two billion dollars isn't pique!
That's the wrath of God! And the
wrath of God wants Howard Beale
What for? Every other network
will grab him the minute he walks
out the door. He'll be back on
the air for ABC tomorrow. And
we'll lose twenty points in audience
share in the first week, roughly a
forty million loss in revenues for
I'm going to kill Howard Beale!
I'm going to impale the son of a
bitch with a sharp stick through
And let's not discount federal
action by the Justice Department.
If C.C. and A. pulls Beale off the
air as an act of retribution,
that's a flagrant violation of
network autonomy and an egregious
breach of the consent decree.
(beginning to like his
new train of thought)
I'll take out a contract on him.
I'll hire professional killers.
I'll do it myself. I'll strangle
him with a sashcord.
No, I don't think Jensen is going
to fire anybody. He's sitting up
there in his office surrounded by
lawyers and senior vice presidents,
and right about now, they've begun
to realize the extraordinary impact
of television. That impact can be
focused, manipulated, utilized.
If Howard Beale can hurt them, he
can help them.
The PHONE RINGS. A moment of anxious silence. HACKETT
picks it up --
Hackett -- Yes, Clarence, I've
already booked my flight ... Well,
can you give me a little more time
than that? I've got the red-eye
flight, I won't be back in New York
till six tomorrow morning ... That'll
be just fine. I'll see you then --
He returns the phone to its cradle, regards DIANA for
Mr. Jensen wants to meet Howard
Beale personally. He wants Mr. Beale
in his office at ten o'clock tomorrow
150. EXT. THE C.C. AND A. BUILDING - PARK AVE. AND 46TH
STREET - MORNING
A black limousine pulls to the curb in front of the C.C.
and A. Building, disgorging HACKETT, and, a moment
later, HOWARD BEALE, both dressed in banker's gray. As
they move for the building's entrance, HACKETT herding
HOWARD along, it becomes clear that HOWARD is in a
beatified state. His eyes glisten transcendentally, and
he smiles the smile of the elevated spirit. He suddenly
pulls up abruptly, raises his arms over his head, and
announces at the top of his lungs:
The final revelation is at hand!
I have seen the shattering
fulgurations of ultimate clarity!
The light is impending! I bear
witness to the light!
This outburst doesn't seem to bother most of the PEOPLE
passing by except for ONE or TWO who murmur: "Hey,
that's Howard Beale, isn't it?" The outburst does
appall FRANK HACKETT, who stares in distress and
entreaty to some god in the heavens, and clutches at
HOWARD's arm to get him moving again.
151. INT. ARTHUR JENSEN'S OFFICE
An enormous office with two walls of windows towering
over the Manhattan landscape and through which SUNLIGHT
streams in. ARTHUR JENSEN is rising from behind his
massive desk --
Good afternoon, Mr. Beale. They
tell me you're a madman.
CAMERA DOLLIES to include HOWARD just coming into the
(closing the door
How are you now?
(as mad as a hatter)
I'm as mad as a hatter.
Who isn't? Don't sit down.
I'm taking you to our conference
room which seems more seemly a
setting for what I have to say
He takes HOWARD'S arm and moves him to a large oaken
door leading out of JENSEN'S office --
I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale.
I sold sewing machines and automobile
parts, hair brushes and electronic
equipment. They say I can sell
anything. I'd like to try and sell
something to you --
They pass into --
152. INT. THE CONFERENCE ROOM - C.C. AND A. BUILDING
The overwhelming cathedral of a conference room
remembered perhaps from an earlier scene where Frank
Hackett gave his annual report. When last seen, it was
in pitch darkness, but now the enormous curtains are up,
and an almost celestial light pours in through the huge
windows. Being on the 43rd and 44th floors, the sky
outside is only sporadically interrupted by the towers
of other skyscrapers. The double semi- circular bank of
seats are all empty, and the general effect is one of
hushed vastness --
Valhalla, Mr. Beale, please sit
He leads HOWARD down the steps to the floor level,
himself ascends again to the small stage and the podium.
HOWARD sits in one of the 200 odd seats. JENSEN pushes
a button, and the enormous drapes slowly fall, slicing
away layers of light until the vast room is utterly
dark. Then, the little pinspots at each of the desks,
including the one behind which HOWARD is seated, pop on,
creating a miniature Milky Way effect. A shaft of white
LIGHT shoots out from the rear of the room, spotting
JENSEN on the podium, a sun of its own little galaxy.
Behind him, the shadowed white of the lecture screen.
JENSEN suddenly wheels to his audience of one and roars
You have meddled with the primal
forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I
won't have it, is that clear?! You
think you have merely stopped a
business deal -- that is not the
case! The Arabs have taken billions
of dollars out of this country, and
now they must put it back. It is
ebb and flow, tidal gravity, it is
ecological balance! You are an old
man who thinks in terms of nations
and peoples. There are no nations!
There are no peoples! There are no
Russians. There are no Arabs!
There are no third worlds! There is
no West! There is only one holistic
system of systems, one vast and
immane, interwoven, interacting,
dominion of dollars! petro-dollars,
Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and
shekels! It is the international
system of currency that determines
the totality of life on this planet!
That is the natural order of things
today! That is the atomic,
subatomic and galactic structure of
things today! And you have meddled
with the primal forces of nature,
and you will atone! Am I getting
through to you, Mr. Beale?
You get up on your little twenty-
one inch screen, and howl about
America and democracy. There is no
America. There is no democracy.
There is only IBM and ITT and A T
and T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide
and Exxon. Those are the nations of
the world today. What do you think
the Russians talk about in their
councils of state -- Karl Marx?
They pull out their linear
programming charts, statistical
decision theories and minimax
solutions and compute the price-cost
probabilities of their transactions
and investments just like we do. We
no longer live in a world of nations
and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The
world is a college of corporations,
inexorably deter- mined by the
immutable by-laws of business. The
world is a business, Mr. Beale! It
has been since man crawled out of
the slime, and our children, Mr.
Beale, will live to see that perfect
world in which there is no war and
famine, oppression and brutality --
one vast and ecumenical holding
company, for whom all men will work
to serve a common profit, in which
all men will hold a share of stock,
all necessities provided, all
anxieties tranquilized, all boredom
amused. And I have chosen you to
preach this evangel, Mr. Beale.
Because you're on television, dummy.
Sixty million people watch you
every night of the week, Monday
HOWARD slowly rises from the blackness of his seat so
that he is lit only by the ethereal diffusion of light
shooting out from the rear of the room. He stares at
JENSEN spotted on the podium, transfixed.
I have seen the face of God!
In b.g., up on the podium, JENSEN considers this
curious statement for a moment.
You just might be right, Mr. Beale.
That evening, Howard Beale went
on the air to preach the corporate
cosmology of Arthur Jensen.
153. INT. NETWORK NEWS CONTROL ROOM
The CREW at their various control panels. Business
as usual. If anything, EVERYBODY in the control room
appears a little more bored. On the SHOW MONITOR,
HOWARD BEALE stands in his stained-glass-filtered
spotlight, but, rather than his old enraged self, he
seems sad, resigned, weary --
HOWARD (ON MONITOR)
(sad, resigned, weary)
Last night, I got up here and asked
you people to stand up and fight for
your heritage, and you did and it
was beautiful. Six million
telegrams were received at the White
House. The Arab takeover of C.C.
and A. has been stopped. The people
spoke, the people won. It was a
radiant eruption of democracy. But
I think that was it, fellers. That
sort of thing isn't likely to happen
again. Because, in the bottom of
all our terrified souls, we all know
that democracy is a dying giant, a
sick, sick dying, decaying political
concept, writhing in its final pain.
I don't mean the United States is
finished as a world power. The
United States is the most powerful,
the richest, the most advanced
country in the world, light-years
ahead of any other country. And I
don't mean the Communists are going
to take over the world. The
Communists are deader than we are.
What's finished is the idea that
this great country is dedicated to
the freedom and flourishing of every
individual in it. It's the
individual that's finished. It's
the single, solitary human being
who's finished. It's every single
one of you out there who's finished.
Because this is no longer a nation
of independent individuals. This is
a nation of two hundred odd million
whiter- than-white, steel-belted
bodies, totally unnecessary as human
beings and as replaceable as piston
It was a perfectly admissible
argument that Howard Beale advanced
in the days that followed; it was,
however, also a very tedious and
depressing one. By the end of
the first week in June --
154 INT. DIANA'S APARTMENT - THURSDAY - JUNE 19 - ENTRANCE
FOYER - 7:15 P.M.
-- as MAX lets himself into the apartment. MAX seems
-- the Howard Beale show had dropped
one point in the ratings, and its
trend of shares dipped under forty-
eight for the first time since last
MAX moves into the living room as DIANA's VOICE erupts
shrilly from the bedroom --
-- You're his goddam agent, Lew!,
I'm counting on you to talk some
sense into the lunatic!
155. INT. DIANA'S BEDROOM
DIANA perched on her bed, shrilling into the telephone --
We're starting to get rumbles from
the agencies. Another couple of
weeks of this, and the sponsors will
be bailing out! ... This is breach of
contract, Lew! This isn't the Howard
Beale we signed. You better get him
off this corporate universe kick or,
so help me, I'll pull him off the
air! ... I told him, Lew! I've been
telling him every day for a week!
I'm sick of telling him! Now, you
She slams the receiver down, sits in silent rage on the
bed, turns up the volume on her remote control unit.
HOWARD'S VOICE suddenly emanates from the television set
across the room from her --
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- Well, the time has come to say:
is dehumanization such a bad word?
Because good or bad, that's what's
so. The whole world is becoming
humanoid, creatures that look human
but aren't. The whole world, not
just us. We're just the most
advanced country, so we're getting
there first --
DIANA reaches for the phone again, dials briskly. She looks
up to note MAX regarding her from the doorway. She regards
him sullenly. They are both clearly in foul tempers.
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- The whole world's people are
becoming mass-produced, programmed,
wired, insensate things useful only
to produce and consume other
mass-produced things, all of them as
unnecessary and useless as we are --
I'm sorry I'm late --
They exchange dully sullen looks. MAX turns back into --
156. INT. THE LIVING ROOM
-- where he sprawls morosely on one of the soft chairs --
HOWARD (ON TV O.S.)
-- that's the simple truth you
have to grasp, that human existence
is an utterly futile and purposeless
158. INT. THE BEDROOM
DIANA perched on her bed, cross-legged --
Barbara? Diana --
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- because once you've grasped that,
then the whole universe becomes
orderly and comprehensible --
Listen, I had another howling
session with Howard Beale today,
and he's impenetrable. We better
start shoring up the dykes --
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- We are right now living in what
has to be called a corporate
society, a corporate world, a
corporate universe. This world
quite simply is a vast cosmology of
small corporations orbiting around
larger corporations who, in turn,
revolve around giant corporations --
(stares at set, mutters)
Jesus Christ --
HOWARD (ON TV)
-- and this whole, endless, ultimate
cosmology is expressly designed for
the production and consumption of
useless things --
DIANA clicks the remote control thing, and the TV set
Let's start looking around for
possible replacements. I hear ABC's
grooming a mad prophet of their own
in Chicago as our com- petition for
next season. See if you can get a
tape on him. Maybe we can steal
him. And let's start building up
the other segments on the show.
Sybil the Soothsayer, Jim Webbing.
The Vox Populi segment is catching
on; let's make that a daily feature --
159. INT. THE LIVING ROOM
MAX sprawled on the soft chair. We notice that, in the
back of the living room, a bridge table has been set up
as a makeshift desk. It has a typewriter on it and a
welter of papers and books and filing folders. DIANA
appears in the bedroom doorway, regards MAX coldly --
You know, you could help me out
with Howard if you wanted to.
He listens to you. You're his
best friend --
I'm tired of this hysteria about
Every time you see somebody in
your family, you come back in one
of these morbid middle-aged moods!
(raging around the room)
And I'm tired of finding you on the
goddamned phone every time I turn
around! I'm tired of being an
accessory in your life!
He finds himself by the upstage typewriter, which he
sweeps crashing off the bridge table, sending the
welter of papers there flying off in a storm --
-- and I'm tired of pretending to
write this dumb book about my
maverick days in those great early
years of television! Every execu-
tive fired from a network in the
last twenty years has written this
dumb book about the great early
days But don't
worry about me. I'll manage.
I always have, always will. I'm
more concerned about you. Once
I go, you'll be back in the eye
of your own desolate terrors.
Fifty dollar studs and the
nightly sleepless contemplation
of suicide. You're not the
boozer type, so I figure a year,
maybe two before you crack up or
jump out your fourteenth floor
Stop selling, Max. I don't need
She exits out into --
166. INT. THE LIVING ROOM
-- and across that to the --
167. INT. THE KITCHEN
-- where a kettle is steaming. She fetches a cup and
saucer from the cupboard and would make some instant
coffee but she is overtaken by a curious little spasm.
Her hand holding the cup and saucer is shaking so much
she has to put them down. With visible effort, she
pulls herself together. She moves out of the kitchen to
168. INT. THE LIVING ROOM
-- where she stands in the middle of the room and
shouts at MAX through the opened bedroom doorway.
I don't want your paint I don't
want your menopausal decay and
death! I don't need you, Max.
You need me badly! I'm your
last contact with human reality!
I love you, and that painful,
decaying menopausal love is the
only thing between you and the
shrieking nothingness you live
the rest of the day!
He slams the valise shut.
Then don't leave me!
It's too late, Diana! There's
nothing left in you that I can live
with! You're one of Howard's
humanoids, and, if I stay with you,
I'll be destroyed! Like Howard
Beale was destroyed! Like Laureen
Hobbs was destroyed! Like
everything you and the institution
of television touch is destroyed!
You are television incarnate, Diana,
indifferent to suffering,
insensitive to joy. All of life is
reduced to the common rubble of
banality. War, murder, death are
all the same to you as bottles of
beer. The daily business of life is
a corrupt comedy. You even shatter
the sensations of time and space
into split-seconds and instant
replays. You are madness, Diana,
virulent madness, and everything you
touch dies with you. Well, not me!
Not while I can still feel pleasure
and pain and love!
He turns back to his valise and buckles it. DIANA finds
a chair, sits in it. A moment later, MAX comes out of
the bedroom, lugging a raincoat as well as the valise.
He lugs his way across the living room, then pauses for
a moment, reflects --
It's a happy ending, Diana.
Wayward husband comes to his senses,
returns to his wife with whom he
has built a long and sustaining love.
Heartless young woman left alone
in her arctic desolation. Music
up with a swell. Final commercial.
And here are a few scenes from
next week's show.
He disappears down the foyer. We can hear the CLICK
of the front door being opened and the CLACK of the
door closing. DIANA sits in her chair, pulling the
shower robe around her, alone in her arctic desolation.
169. INT. 20TH FLOOR - UBS BUILDING - LOBBY, LOUNGE,
CORRIDOR - 10:15 P.M.
A solemn FRANK HACKETT in blue suit walks down the long,
empty, hushed corridor to the large double doors of his
office (which had originally been EDWARD RUDDY's office).
At the doors, NELSON CHANEY is waiting for him.
How'd it go?
HACKETT sighs, enters --
170. INT. SECRETARY'S OFFICE
-- where HERB THACKERAY and JOE DONNELLY are lounging.
Everybody follows HACKETT into --
171. INT. HACKETT'S OFFICE (ONCE RUDDY'S OFFICE)
Nighttime outside, the crepuscular grandeur of
Manhattan glittering below us. Waiting in the office,
seated here and there, are WALTER AMUNDSEN and DIANA.
HACKETT sits behind his desk. The others all find
places around the room.
Mr. Jensen was unhappy at the
idea of taking Howard Beale off
the air. Mr. Jensen thinks Howard
Beale is bringing a very important
message to the American people, so
he wants Howard Beale on the
air. And he wants him kept on.
Nobody has anything to say to this.
Mr. Jensen feels we are being too
catastrophic in our thinking. I
argued that television was a
volatile industry in which success
and failure were determined week by
week. Mr. Jensen said he did not
like volatile industries and
suggested with a certain sinister
silkiness that volatility in
business usually reflected bad
management. He didn't really care
if Howard Beale was the number one
show in television or the fiftieth.
He didn't really care if the Beale
Show lost money. The network should
be stabilized so that it can carry a
losing show and still maintain an
overall profit. Mr. Jensen has an
important message he wants conveyed
to the American people, and Howard
Beale is conveying it. He wants
Howard Beale on the air, and he
wants him kept on. I would describe
his position on this as inflexible.
Where does that put us, Diana?
(taking papers out
of her attache case)
That puts us in the shithouse,
that's where that puts us.
(holds up her
sheaf of papers)
Do you want me to go through this?
I have an advance TVQ report here.
The Beale show Q score, which was
forty-seven in the May book, is down
to thirty-three and falling. Most
of this loss occurred in the child
and teen and eighteen-thirty-four
categories, which were our core
markets. NBC Nightly News, by
contrast, has gone up to a
twenty-nine Q, and, at this rate,
will pass us by the end of July.
Everybody here knows the Neilsen and
share-trend scores. Let me just
capsulate our own AR demographic
reports which have been extensive.
It is the AR department's carefully
considered judgment -- and mine --
that if we get rid of Beale, we
should be able to maintain a very
respectable share in the high
twenties, possibly thirty, with a
comparable Q level. The other
segments on the Beale show -- Sybil
the Soothsayer, Jim Webbing, the Vox
Populi -- have all developed their
own audiences. Our AR reports show
without exception that it is Howard
Beale that's the destructive force
here. Minimally, we are talking
about a ten point differential in
shares. I think Joe ought to spell
it out for us. Joe?
A twenty-eight share is eighty-
thousand dollar minutes, and I
think we could sell complete
positions on the whole. As a
matter of fact, we're just getting
into the pre-Christmas gift-sellers,
and I'll tell you the agencies are
coming back to me with four dollar
CPMs. If that's any indication,
we're talking forty, forty-five
million dollar loss in annual
You guys want to hear all the flak
I'm getting from the affiliates?
We know all about it, Herb.
And you would describe Mr. Jensen's
position on Beale as inflexible?
Intractable and adamantine.
So what're we going to do about
this Beale son of a bitch?
A sad silence settles over the top management of UBS-TV
as they lounge about the enormous room.
I suppose we'll have to kill him.
Another long contemplative silence.
I don't suppose you have any ideas
on that, Diana.
Well, what would you fellows say
to an assassination? --
172. INT. THE LOBBY - UBS BUILDING - A FEW DAYS LATER - 6:00 P.M.
Bustling and crowded. Long lines of PEOPLE, four
abreast, roped off and waiting to get into the HOWARD
BEALE show. Uniformed USHERS here and there,
occasionally chatting with the waiting CROWD. OVER
THIS, the VOICES of the network meeting just interrupted
-- I think I can get the Mao Tse
Tung people to kill Beale for us.
As one of their programs. In
fact, it'll make a hell of a kick-
off show for the season. We're
facing heavy opposition from the
other networks on Wednesday nights,
and the Mao Tse Tung Hour could
use a sensational show for an opener.
The whole thing would be done right
on camera in the studio. We ought
to get a fantastic look-in audience
with the assassination of Howard
Beale as our opening show --
173. INT. THE LOBBY - UBS BUILDING - ELEVATOR AREA
-- as the waiting AUDIENCE is herded into the elevators.
OVER THIS, the VOICES of the meeting CONTINUE:
Well, if Beale dies, what would
be our continuing obligation to
the Beale corporation? I know our
contract with Beale contains a buy-
out clause triggered by his death
or incapacity --
174. INT. UBS BUILDING - FOURTH FLOOR
-- as the elevator load of AUDIENCE is led out of the
elevator and down the long, carpeted corridors, past
the large wall photographs of TV stars, glass-enclosed
control rooms, and other showpieces of the network's
electronic glory. OVER THIS, the VOICES CONTINUE:
There must be a formula for the
computation of the purchase price.
Offhand, I think it was based on
a multiple of 1975 earnings with
the base period in 1975. I think
it was fifty percent of salary plus
twenty-five percent of the first
year's profits --
175. INT. HACKETT'S OFFICE
The meeting is still going on --
(continuing above speech)
-- multiplied by the unexpired
portion of the contract. I don't
think the show has any substantial
syndication value, would you say,
Syndication profits are minimal.
176. INT. THE BEALE SHOW STUDIO AND AUDIENCE AREA
The new load of AUDIENCE finds seats in the rapidly-
filling auditorium. On the floor of the studio, the
CREW is setting the cameras, checking the booms. The
stage curtain is down. OVER THIS, the VOICES of the
We're talking about a capital crime
here, so the network can't be
I hope you don't have any hidden
tape machines in this office,
177. INT. THE BEALE SHOW STUDIO - SHOWTIME
The warm-up is over; the stage footlights are on; the
AUDIENCE sits expectantly. The big wall CLOCK shows:
6:29, clicks to 6:30. On the studio stage, the
ANNOUNCER strides out from the wings, bellows happily
at the audience
Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear
it -- how do you feel?
178. REVERSE SHOT of the AUDIENCE. Suddenly SPOT the GREAT
AHMED KHAN and some of his FOLLOWERS, right in the
middle, happily joining all the others in their communal
AUDIENCE AND THE KHAN
We're mad as hell, and we're not
going to take this any more!
Ladies and gentlemen! The Network
News Hour! With Sybil the Sooth-
sayer, Jim Webbing and his It's-
the-Emmes-Truth Department, Miss
Mata Hari, tonight another segment
of Vox Populi, and starring --
MUSIC: A FLOURISH OF DRUMS
-- the mad prophet of the airways,
MUSIC: A FULL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA SOARS INTO AN IMPERIAL
179. -- as the HOUSE LIGHTS go to BLACK. The curtain slowly
rises. The bare stage, the stained glass window, the
celestial SHAFT of light. HOWARD BEALE, in his black
suit and tie, strides on from the wings, stands basking
in the SPOTLIGHT. APPLAUSE UP.
180. INT. HACKETT'S OFFICE
The meeting is still going on.
Well, the issue is: shall we
kill Howard Beale or not. I'd
like to hear some more opinions
on that --
I don't see we have any option,
Frank. Let's kill the son of a
181. INT. THE BEALE STUDIO
The APPLAUSE for HOWARD BEALE has died. HUSH --
suddenly, the HUSH is shattered by a HORRENDOUS
ENFILADE of GUNFIRE. An embroidery of red bullet
holes perforate HOWARD'S shirt and jacket, and we
might even see the impact of a head wound as he
pitches backwards dead.
182. A BANK OF FOUR COLOR TELEVISION MONITORS
It is 7:14 P.M., WEDNESDAY, July 9, 1975, and we
are watching the network news programs on CBS, NBC,
ABC and UBS-TV. The AUDIO is ON: head shots of
WALTER CRONKITE, JOHN CHANCELLOR, HOWARD K. SMITH,
HARRY REASONER, and JACK SNOWDEN, substituting for
HOWARD BEALE, interspersed with tapes of the horrible
happening at UBS the day before, flit and flicker
across the four television screens. Television
continues relentlessly on.
This was the story of Howard Beale
who was the network news anchorman
on UBS-TV, the first known instance
of a man being killed because he
had lousy ratings.