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Beale is the nighttime news anchor for UBS, a network struggling to come out of fourth place in the ratings. Beale is fired after fifteen years as an anchor, and tells his viewers to tune in next week because he’s going to blow his brains out on live tv. Beale is quickly fired, and soon brought back in an effort to reclaim ratings for the underperforming network. He soon becomes the laughing stock of serious newsmen but the darling of the public for telling the truth and worse, the puppet of the network who uses him for the ratings share he’s gained for them. But, once Howard tells a truth the parent corporation doesn’t want him to tell on live television, he is killed.
Diana Christensen is the head of scripted television at UBS. She is a relentless professional and her work is her life, and getting UBS to number one is what she desires. She convinces Hackett to give her Max’s job producing the news in order to raise ratings and bring the network out of the gutter, which she does by placing Howard Beale right where he shouldn’t be...in front of the camera, and letting him say anything that comes to his mind. Her plan begins to work, and she is hailed as a conquering hero by her network cronies until The Howard Beale Show begins to dip in ratings. Once there is the potential that she will lose ratings, she is willing to do anything to save her career and the network share, and is complicit in Howard’s murder.
Frank Hackett is the Executive Senior Vice President of the network. A new breed of management executive who seeks to become Arthur Jensen’s go-to man at the network. After CCA, a conglomerate corporation, has taken control of the network and Hackett is on board with them to completely change the structure of the network so that ratings and profits will increase, and he can get his promotion. Those are his most important goals, caring for people is not.
Max Schumacher is Head of the News Division at UBS, and Howard Beale’s friend. Max has been married for twenty five years when he falls in love with Diana Christensen and leaves his wife. Max is initially kept on as Head of News after Howard is asked to continue to anchor after his outbursts. Max is the one person we see who truly cares about Howard’s well being, and when he tells Hackett to pull Howard because he is having a breakdown, he’s fired and replaced by Diana. Max loses his way in this film, but comes around to the truth of who he is. Unfortunately not before Howard is murdered on live tv.
Edward George Ruddy
Edward George Ruddy is the Chairman of the board of UBS. A corporate man who opposes Howard’s ranting on live television, but before he can put a stop to it dies of a heart condition. Frank Hackett takes his position as Chairman and ensure Howard’s fate as news anchor.
Arthur Jensen owns CCA and thus owns UBS. He is the man Hackett is working to impress. Jensen is a former salesman and a capitalist that believes in the almighty dollar above any individualism, religion or democracy. He is the only one that is able to sway Howard’s thoughts about what he is doing on air.
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