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The Loudest Voice 

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7-part limited series about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, focusing on the past decade which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party's de facto leader and the sexual harassment accusations that brought his career to an end.
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931 ( 136)

Episodes

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1  
2019  
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Russell Crowe ...  Roger Ailes 7 episodes, 2019
Sienna Miller ...  Beth Ailes 7 episodes, 2019
Seth MacFarlane ...  Brian Lewis 7 episodes, 2019
Annabelle Wallis ...  Laurie Luhn 7 episodes, 2019
Simon McBurney ...  Rupert Murdoch 7 episodes, 2019
Aleksa Palladino ...  Judy Laterza 7 episodes, 2019
Naomi Watts ...  Gretchen Carlson 7 episodes, 2019
Josh Stamberg ...  Bill Shine 7 episodes, 2019
Rod McLachlan ...  Jimmy Gildea 5 episodes, 2019
Mackenzie Astin ...  John Moody 5 episodes, 2019
Susan Pourfar ...  Dianne Brandi 5 episodes, 2019
Lucy Owen ...  Suzanne Scott 5 episodes, 2019
Jenna Leigh Green ...  Irena Briganti 4 episodes, 2019
John Harrington Bland ...  Peter Johnson Jr. 4 episodes, 2019
Barry Watson ...  Lachlan Murdoch 3 episodes, 2019
Patch Darragh ...  Sean Hannity 3 episodes, 2019
Taylor Louderman ...  Carrie 3 episodes, 2019
David Whalen ...  Steve Doocy 3 episodes, 2019
Josh Charles ...  Casey Close 3 episodes, 2019
Dennis Staroselsky ...  Brian Kilmeade 3 episodes, 2019
Madison Cruz Madison Cruz ...  Mercedes 3 episodes, 2019
Meredith Holzman ...  Fox Exec #2 / ... 3 episodes, 2019
Onika Day ...  Vanessa 3 episodes, 2019
Guy Boyd ...  Chet Collier 2 episodes, 2019
Emory Cohen ...  Joe Lindsley 2 episodes, 2019
Jessica Hecht ...  Nancy Erika Smith 2 episodes, 2019
Timothy Busfield ...  Neil Mullin 2 episodes, 2019
David Cromer ...  David Axelrod 2 episodes, 2019
Josh Helman ...  James Murdoch 2 episodes, 2019
Nicholas J. Coleman ...  FOX Anchor 2 episodes, 2019
Eason Rytter ...  Zac Ailes / ... 2 episodes, 2019
Shaotian Cai ...  Crew Member 2 episodes, 2019
Brady Jenness ...  Zac / ... 2 episodes, 2019
Anthony Belfiore ...  Banquet guest / ... 2 episodes, 2019
Mark Lehneman ...  Newsroom Reporter 2 episodes, 2019
Sammy Peralta ...  Mike 2 episodes, 2019
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Storyline

This seven-part limited series from the bestselling book is about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News. To understand the events that led to the rise of the modern Republican party, one must understand Ailes. Focusing primarily on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the party's de facto leader, the series also touches on defining events in Ailes' life, including his experiences with world leaders that gave birth to his political career and the sexual harassment accusations and settlements that brought his Fox News reign to an end. Written by SHOWTIME

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Genres:

Biography | Drama

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TV-MA | See all certifications »
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Trivia

During an interview with Howard Stern on June 19 2019, Russell Crowe mentioned that the first application of the makeup and prosthetics took 6 hours to apply. Eventually they got it down to 2 hours and 17 minutes. See more »

Connections

Version of Bombshell (2019) See more »

User Reviews

 
A fine overview of a pivotal figure in American socio-political history and an insightful piece of cultural anthropology
10 July 2020 | by BertautSee all my reviews

Although it may seem bizarre to more rational minds, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of protective face masks has somehow become a partisan issue in the Divided States of America. How does a country get to this point - how does it become so ideologically at odds with itself that even the issue of breathing is a political battleground? It's easy to blame Trump - he is, after all, as incendiary as he is incompetent - but this division was gestating before his rise to power. The US from 2016 has been called Trump's America, but it is less his than another man's; the real architect of the partisan hatred we see today at all levels of society was Roger Ailes.

Based on The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country by Gabriel Sherman (2014), The Loudest Voice takes as its subject Ailes's rise and fall, and the concomitant rise and ongoing success of Fox News, the "fair and balanced" news network he founded in 1996, creating a nationwide platform for his particular brand of fear, intolerance, and xenophobia masquerading as patriotism. And whilst Bombshell (2019) focuses on the women who brought Ailes down, The Loudest Voice is more interested in the man himself. Depicting a man who believed (correctly, as it turned out) in the profitability of fudging the distinction between reporting the facts and offering opinions on them, the show illustrates the damage such an ideology can have on society as a whole. Does it tell us anything new? Not really. Is it biased? Absolutely. Is it subtle? Not even a little. However, it's well-written, brilliantly acted, extremely well-mounted, and, for the most part, it avoids caricature.

Rather than providing a straightforward biographical account of Ailes (played a superb Russell Crowe behind a layer of not-always-convincing prosthetics), the show instead focuses on seven key events, looking at one per episode, beginning with the formation of Fox News ("1995"). The following six deal with Ailes and Fox's response to 9/11 ("2001"); the rise of Barack Obama, who Ailes sees as a non-American Muslim-educated communist intent on destroying the country ("2008"); Ailes and his wife Beth (Sienna Miller in a performance every bit as good as Crowe's) purchasing a local newspaper in their home town of Garrison, New York ("2009"); Obama running for a second term ("2012"); the rise of Donald Trump ("2015"); and Ailes being sued by Gretchen Carlson (Naomi Watts) for sexual harassment ("2016").

The most immediately obvious element of Loudest Voice is the non-linear editing, which is not dissimilar to Oliver Stone's use of "vertical editing". So whilst 90% of any given scene will be cut fairly conventionally, the other 10% will be out of sequence - so a conversation, for example, might feature the occasional shot of one of the participants returning to their office.

The most impactful scene in this respect occurs in "2009"; a scene of Ailes compelling employee Laurie Luhn (Annabelle Wallis) to give him oral sex, intercut with her cleaning her mouth out in the bathroom afterwards. It's a horrific moment and a brilliant example of using the mechanics of the medium to comment on the events depicted without resorting to dialogue, showing us how disjointed editing can be thematic, telling us all we need to know about Luhn's attitude towards her relationship with Ailes, particularly the power disparity upon which it is built and upon which he depends.

While we're on the subject of Luhn, her storyline is one of the show's most effective. Her discomfit with the relationship is hinted at throughout the first two episodes, but it's only in "2008" that it takes centre stage, culminating in a horror show of mental collapse across two episodes. There's an obvious reason for structuring things this way; Luhn's role in the story is to serve as a precursor to Carlson. Additionally, the early scenes between her and Ailes are really the only ones that speak to his darker characteristics, which go on to be such an important theme in later episodes. Much like John Lithgow in Bombshell, Crowe initially plays Ailes as intelligent, inspiring, funny, charming, even nurturing, and the only real suggestion of the depravity beneath that veneer comes in the form of the increasingly disturbing sex scenes between him and Luhn.

Thematically, the show doesn't do a whole lot you wouldn't expect. So, for example, Ailes and Fox's roles in dividing the country along ideological lines is a major focus, and nowhere is it more paramount, or more effectively conveyed, than in "2009". Here, we see Ailes stoking the fires of division in Garrison by interjecting himself into a dispute amongst the locals about zoning regulations, supposedly playing the conscientious neighbour fighting for the little man, but really just out for himself. This is the microcosm. In the same episode, we see the increasingly volatile clashes between Obama supporters and those who oppose him, fuelled by Fox's anti-Obama vitriol and scaremongering, even as the network champions itself as standing up for the silent "real Americans". This is the macrocosm. Both strands depict Ailes fomenting division for his own ends, all the while claiming to be fighting for the common man. As visual metaphors go, cutting between a fractious townhall meeting in Garrison and news coverage of street clashes across the country is more than a little heavy-handed, but it is effective in getting the point across - Ailes was very good at breeding division, and even better at convincing people he was acting out of genuine grievances, a concern for working-class America, and a love of the flag. The show essentially suggests that Fox was the propagandistic manifestation of Ailes's conservatism - self-interested, permanently aggrieved, and unashamedly xenophobic.

And of course, there's the constant theme of Ailes and Fox's crimes against journalism (in an early quote, he hilariously argues, "at Fox, our aim is to be objective"). "2001" features a scene in which Ailes willingly turns Fox into the propagandist arm of the Republican Party, promising the Bush administration that the network will support an illegal war he knows has no justification in reality. An even clearer look at Ailes's lack of journalistic morality comes in "2008", when discussing the presidential election being contested by Obama and John McCain. Ailes pushes his staff to find evidence of Obama's Muslim education and Michelle's apparent racism, stating, "Obama has managed to trick the entire media, except for us, into getting behind him and his socialist ideas and manifestos. The last two guys who did that? Hitler and Stalin. That man is a danger to this country, and it is on us to make sure the voters know." Again, none of this is subtle, but neither was Ailes himself.

Of course, a lack of subtlety isn't the show's only issue, but none of its other problems are especially damaging. Although it improves exponentially as time goes on and Ailes grows older, the prosthetic work in the first couple of episodes is really poor, especially in bright light. Ailes's skin is far too smooth and plastic-like, as if he's been run through a Photoshop filter a dozen times too many. Another issue is that the high quality of the first two and last two episodes leads to some narrative sag in the middle three, and I'm not entirely convinced that seven hours were necessary. Tied to this is some unusual choices when deciding what content to include and what to leave out - so we get, for example, an entire episode on the purchasing of a local newspaper, but there's no mention of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in 1998, which was Fox's first big ratings win.

If Roger Ailes didn't exactly build the Divided States with his own hands, at the very least, those who did were working from his blueprint, and The Loudest Voice is a very fine deconstruction of that blueprint. Certainly, it's more interested in probing the political impact of Fox than examining the psychology of the man, and it's disappointingly silent on the question of why he did what he did - it never really deals, for example, with whether or not Ailes genuinely believed he was fighting the good fight or if he recognised that he was essentially a snake oil salesman. And accusations that it's one-sided can't be denied - it's a show that never advances beyond reinforcing everything the left already believe about Ailes and Fox. However, for all that, it's very enjoyable - the acting is top-notch, the aesthetic superb, and the events it recounts of great importance in today's cultural climate.


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Official Sites:

Official Facebook | SHOWTIME

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 June 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Loudest Voice See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Blumhouse Television See more »
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Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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