Stage Version of ‘Network,’ Starring Bryan Cranston, Sets Broadway Opening

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Are audiences ready to get mad as hell all over again?

The National Theater’s stage version of “Network,” Paddy Chayefsky’s searing film satire about a mentally unraveling TV news anchor and the manipulative executives who seek to use him for their advantages, will transfer to Broadway in the fall.

As in its London production, the Broadway play will be directed by Ivo van Hove and will star Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale, the anchorman of the fictional UBS channel, whose troubling on-air diatribes earn him the title of “mad prophet of the airwaves.”

“Network,” the original 1976 motion picture written by Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, starred Peter Finch as Howard Beale; William Holden as the depleted news president Max Schumacher; and Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen, a cynical programming executive who becomes Schumacher’s lover as well as his workplace rival.

At its release, “Network” earned the disdain of the TV news business for depicting the industry as an arena where furious passion and uninhibited anger could supplant sober fact. The film nonetheless became a commercial and critical success, winning Academy Awards for Chayefsky’s screenplay and the performances of Beatrice Straight, Ms. Dunaway and Finch (who died two months before the Oscars ceremony).

The National’s production was adapted by Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) from Chayefsky’s script, and opened to acclaim last November. Reviewing the play for The New York Times, Ben Brantley praised it as “a bravura exercise in torturously applied pressure,” adding that it “feels as pertinent to our time as it did to its own.”

Mr. Cranston, a Tony Award winner for “All the Way” and four-time Emmy Award winner for “Breaking Bad,” said in a statement that, in a “post-truth era,” the Chayefsky film “shines a spotlight on today’s society with prescient clarity.”

He added, “I’m thrilled to be able to continue ‘Network’ in New York where the story originated over 40 years ago. It’s remarkable to see how things have changed … and what has not.”

Mr. van Hove is also directing a new Broadway version of “West Side Story,” with choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, that is planned to begin performances in December 2019 and open in February 2020. He won the Tony for directing his recent Broadway revival of “A View From the Bridge,” which ran in the same season as his revival of “The Crucible.”

Press representatives for the Broadway production of “Network” said in a statement that it will be presented at the Cort Theater. The limited 18-week run will begin previews on Nov. 10 with an opening night scheduled for Dec. 6. Its producers include David Binder, who next year will become artistic director for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The London production of “Network” also starred Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) as Diana Christensen and Douglas Henshall (“Shetland”) as Max Schumacher. Casting for these and other roles for the Broadway transfer was not immediately announced.

Original Article

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