50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays: Dave Itzkoff

This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.

Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.

cover of "Mad as Hell" by Dave ItzkoffMy guest today is Dave Itzkoff, whose latest book Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies was just released this month by Times Books. Dave is a culture reporter at The New York Times, where he writes regularly about film, television, theater, music, and popular culture. He has previously worked at Spin, Maxim, and Details, and his work has appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired, and other publications. He is the author of two previous books, Cocaine’s Son and Lads. He lives in New York City, and you can find him on Twitter as @ditzkoff.

Now if you’re a little fuzzy on Network, the 1976 movie that is the subject of Dave’s new book, its Wikipedia page (yeah, that’s right, I’m linking to Wikipedia) should get you back up to speed about the fictitious TV network that would do pretty much anything to get ratings.

Pretty far-fetched, I know.

And if you’re not familiar with Howard Beale’s iconic speech that led to Dave titling his book Mad as Hell … well, I’m here to serve:

I asked Dave about his muse:

In the 35-plus years since Network was released, television has changed in innumerable ways. Why has this movie endured?

Today I got a press release announcing a new television series called Naked Dating, where men and women meet each other in the nude before deciding if they want to go on more dates with each other. I can’t think of a better explanation why Network is still relevant.

I just checked, and it looks like Network is available on HBO GO until March 1, so if you have that, you can get Dave’s book and watch the movie—you know, make a whole weekend of it. It’s surely safer than making an audition tape for Naked Dating.


Huge thanks to Dave for stopping by this week, especially so close to the release of Mad as Hell.

Interested in being featured in “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays” or know someone who should be? Let me know. Also, feel free to check out the archive of past guests. But no pressure.

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