The Great Man (1956)
- Summaries (3)
Joe Harris, preparing a eulogy for popular radio commentator Herb Fuller, finds that nobody has a good word to say about him.
On the death of popular national radio commentator Herb Fuller, underling Joe Harris undertakes to prepare an hour long, eulogistic program featuring interviews with Fuller's friends. But, though Fuller was beloved by 150 million of what all the pros term the "great unwashed," all Harris can find is victims, cynical users, and outright enemies of Fuller. Is this where the magic of editing comes in?
Beloved New York based national radio and television talk/variety show host Herb Fuller has just died in a car crash in Hartford, he affectionately referred to as a great man. At the end of the week in three days, the Amalgamated Broadcasting System, the network which airs most of his shows, plans on airing a one hour special in Herb's memory, it an all-star spectacular with celebrities who only knew Herb from being on his shows waxing poetic about him. Ambitious network executive Sid Moore, who discovered Herb at a small New England station but who was largely pushed out of Herb's shows when he became famous, wants to capitalize personally on Herb's death by endorsing Joe Harris, who hosts a New York man-about-town show for the local affiliate, as Herb's replacement, Sid signing Joe to a personal contract in the process. Company president Philip Carleton does assign the job of hosting the memorial show to Joe, Philip who implies that Joe getting Herb's job is largely dependent on how the memorial show turns out. Joe does want Herb's job, as, as a former investigative journalist, he hates his man-about-town gig, which he considers fluff. Not knowing Herb well - despite Sid wanting Joe to pretend they were great friends - and itching to use his investigative skills once again, Joe pitches the idea of making the memorial show instead an intimate portrait of Herb the man by telling the stories about him that the public doesn't know directly by those that did know him, including the talent who appeared on his shows, the regulars, including bandleader Eddie Brand and vocalist Carol Larson, referred to as the "Fuller Family". One of the most heart-wrenching of Herb's broadcasts - one which Joe wants to discover the behind the scenes stories - was made on the front lines during the war, where he was personally delivering blood plasma donated by a listener to an injured soldier who would have died without it. But as Joe progresses with his investigation, he finds that Herb was universally disliked by almost all that knew him, and those that did like him did so solely because of what direct benefit Herb was in their life. Joe also finds that much of what was Herb's on-air persona was smoke-and-mirrors, and not who Herb really was a a person. Joe has to decide if he too will resort to smoke-and-mirrors to give the public and the network brass what they want in memorializing Herb, the long term job on the line versus his journalistic morals.
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