MURROW (TV)

Summary

This made-for-television production is about the life of legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow. The program begins with Murrow broadcasting live on the radio from the BBC rooftop in London during the Blitz. Then, Murrow dines with fellow broadcaster William L. Shirer, who is dismayed about where his future at CBS is headed. Murrow discusses how one has to report the truth as he sees it when doing radio news. Later, after the United States is attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, Murrow follows through with plans to dine with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Roosevelt claims to have heard that Murrow is the most influential American in England. Roosevelt informs Murrow as to what really happened at Pearl Harbor. That night, Murrow recalls for his wife, Janet, what the president told him. Murrow wonders if Roosevelt's information was told "off the record," thinking he shouldn't reveal what he learned in a newscast. Murrow also worries about where his career is headed. Later, Murrow tags along on a bombing mission above Berlin. Murrow reports on his experience over the radio. Afterward, Murrow meets with CBS Chairman William Paley, who tells Murrow that his CBS show is the most popular program on the air. As they try to find a place to hide from air attacks, Paley cautions Murrow against putting his opinions in newscasts due to FCC complaints. Murrow talks about how Americans don't understand what he sees every day. After the war, Paley returns to New York City, hoping to get CBS back on top of the radio ratings game. Dining with Murrow and CBS President Frank Stanton, Paley asks Murrow for his thoughts on Winston Churchill's latest speech. Stanton mentions the new hysteria over the rise in communism. Afterward, Murrow discusses his problem with being promoted to CBS vice president and director of public affairs, talking about how he is uncomfortable with his new executive duties. Murrow further discusses his problems with "strident" American broadcasting, which is full of commercials. Murrow says he wants to hold up a "mirror to the nation and world." The next day, Murrow meets with newscaster Don Hollenbeck, who is angered about being accused of being a communist sympathizer. Then, Murrow gets an urgent call from Shirer, who soon tells him that he is losing his show due to sponsors' concerns over his "political attacks." Murrow admits discussing with higher-ups whether Shirer had become editorially lazy. But Shirer claims he was fired because he was the only broadcaster attacking the Truman Doctrine. Though Murrow says that CBS will keep him on, Shirer claims that Murrow no longer has integrity or guts. Afterward, a troubled Murrow speaks with Paley and Stanton about Shirer and his politics. Paley claims that CBS would never tolerate censorship. By the next day, people are picketing outside CBS due to Shirer's firing, claiming his views are being stifled. However, Shirer has already resigned, claiming that Murrow reminds him of a "good German." Later, on the golf course, Murrow tells Paley that he no longer wants to be a vice president at CBS, wanting to get back on the air. Meanwhile, television is now becoming more prominent. At a board of directors meeting, Stanton talks about the a group of former FBI agents calling the network "satisfying" for communists. Three ex-FBI men are hired to check all CBS employees for communist ties and loyalties. Soon, Murrow is being criticized for what is perceived as his leftist leanings in covering the news. Stanton also reveals that CBS is now beating NBC. Later, Murrow tells Paley that his new television show will be called "See It Now." Meanwhile, Senator Joseph McCarthy begins going after perceived communist sympathizers in America. Murrow's co-producer, Fred Friendly, wants Murrow to attack McCarthy. However, Murrow believes that now is not the time to "kill" the senator. Murrow and Friendly catch a break when they find a soldier, Milo Radulovich, who was kicked out of the Air Force due to his father and sister being thought to be leftists. Murrow interviews Radulovich and his father, who answer the allegations and charges against them. Then, Murrow and Friendly are called to meet with an Air Force general who doesn't understand why the men are so interested in the Radulovich story, trying to prevent them from airing the program. Later, Friendly informs Murrow that CBS won't pay for an ad to promote their program, causing the men to pay for it themselves. Then, "See It Now" with Radulovich airs and Murrow receives numerous favorable calls, but none from CBS management. However, the New York Times review gives plaudits to Murrow. Now, Murrow is ready to finally go after McCarthy as footage of the senator starts getting compiled. However, McCarthy's office claims that Murrow is a paid agent of the Soviet Union, based on a twenty-year-old newspaper clip. Later, Friendly tells Murrow that the CBS legal department is getting worried about McCarthy. Friendly wants to know if any CBS workers have anything in their past that would make them vulnerable to McCarthy, revealing some truths about himself. The next morning, Paley calls Murrow into his office to talk about that night's show on McCarthy. He tells him that McCarthy must be offered equal time should he want it. Murrow says that McCarthy is dealing in fear. Paley talks about envying how Murrow is able to "not give a damn" about CBS policies. That night, Murrow's attack of McCarthy finally airs live, with Hollenbeck immediately responding on-air that he supports the sentiments. However, no phone calls immediately come to the studio as news producer Don Hewitt forgot that he told operators to hold all calls. Freeing the lines, countless calls begin coming in, mostly favorable toward Murrow. That night, while walking on the street, a cab driver salutes Murrow's efforts. Eventually, McCarthy offers his own reply on film, claiming that Murrow was praised in the Daily Worker. Later, Stanton shares with Friendly some polling that shows that many Americans believe that McCarthy proved Murrow to be a communist. Stanton and the rest of the CBS board are troubled by the reaction toward Murrow and how it could affect sponsorships. Hollenbeck is also getting attacked. Soon thereafter, Murrow reveals on-air that a troubled Hollenbeck committed suicide. Later, the popularity of the new "$64,000 Question" has Paley asking for a new hour-long "See It Now" to be moved to a different time slot to accommodate the quiz show. Soon, CBS is not allowing Murrow full control over his show, making changes without his knowledge. Murrow is angered and accuses Paley of thinking of CBS as nothing more than a "business." However, Paley claims that he has always taken the heat for Murrow's controversial broadcasts. Murrow thinks broadcast news is dying. Later, an ever-coughing Murrow visits a doctor, who urges the chain-smoking newsman to get away from work for a while. That night, Stanton tells Murrow how the tide is changing. Eventually, Murrow and Janet vacation in London, where he hears about the quiz show scandals. Murrow tells his wife that Stanton claimed that Murrow is part of the "prevailing dishonesty" on television. Murrow quickly responds in kind. Stanton thinks it is an act of disloyalty to CBS. Then, Murrow is -- in essence -- fired from CBS as he becomes "the voice of America" for the U.S. Information Service. Meanwhile, Murrow's condition worsens as he suffers from pneumonia and has a lung removed. Murrow's declining health forces him to resign from his Washington job. Years later, Paley visits the ailing Murrow to reminisce and ask him to come back to CBS as a consultant. Murrow claims that his lung cancer is too far advanced. Finally, Murrow dies after a failed operation to remove a brain tumor. Paley prepares to offer an on-air memorial tribute to his friend, "a resolute and uncompromising man of truth whose death ended the first golden age of television journalism."

Details

  • NETWORK: HBO
  • DATE: January 19, 1986 Sunday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:54:31
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:08723
  • GENRE: Docudrama
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, historical
  • SERIES RUN: HBO - TV, 1986
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Herbert Brodkin … Executive Producer
    • Dickie Bamber … Producer
    • Robert Berger … Producer
    • Jack Gold … Director
    • Ernest Kinoy … Writer
    • Carl Davis … Music by
    • Daniel J. Travanti … Cast, Edward R. Murrow
    • Dabney Coleman … Cast, William Paley
    • John McMartin … Cast, Frank Stanton
    • Edward Hermann … Cast, Fred Friendly
    • Harry Ditson … Cast, Don Hollenbeck
    • David Suchet … Cast, William L. Shirer
    • Kathryn Leigh Scott … Cast, Janet Murrow
    • Bob Sherman … Cast, Don Hewitt
    • Christopher Muncke … Cast, Joe Wershba
    • Robert Vaughn … Cast, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Jeff Harding … Cast, Milo Radulovich
    • Frank Duncan … Cast, Old Radulovich
    • Lans Traverse … Cast, Kay Campbell
    • Ted Maynard … Cast, Howe
    • Robert Arden … Cast, Hummel
    • Martyn Stanbridge … Cast, Lancaster Captain
    • Stephen Churchett … Cast, BBC Technician
    • Philip Voss … Cast, Censor
    • Lorelei King … Cast, Waitress
    • Frank Dux … Cast, R. & D. Director
    • John Sterland … Cast, Board Member #1
    • Billy J. Mitchell … Cast, Board Member #2
    • Bill Hutchinson … Cast, Board Member #3
    • Leo Kharibian … Cast, Lighting Director
    • Manning Redwood … Cast, Air Force General
    • Dennis Creaghan … Cast, Staff Man #1
    • Blain Fairman … Cast, Staff Man #2
    • Adam Gavzer … Cast, Page
    • Anthony Bishop … Cast, New York Cabbie
    • William Roberts … Cast, First Journalist
    • Sam Douglas … Cast, Second Journalist
    • Paul Springer … Cast, Third Journalist
    • Douglas Lambert … Cast, Doctor
    • Andrea Browne … Cast, P.A.
    • Pat Starr … Cast, Paley's Secretary
    • Winston Churchill
    • Joseph McCarthy