Based on the book The Loudest Voice In The Room by Gabriel Sherman, this is the story of Roger Ailes, the man who advised Republican politicians – all the way to White House level – and created Fox News, the conservative-slanting pay television channel.
In 2016, the chairman and CEO resigned over multiple allegations of sexual harassment; he died the following year of complications caused by haemophilia.
Playing Ailes is Russell Crowe, virtually unrecognisable under layers of prosthetics and fat suits. This is quite the disappointment; we’d all be far more impressed if he’d gorged himself on doughnuts and pizza. As Charlese Bramesco (The Guardian) comments: “you know Christian Bale would’ve gained the weight”.
Crowe’s likeness to Ailes is as close as damnit, in the facial features to the way he walks. The manner of the man seems suitably unpleasant. It’s Crowe’s first major television starring role. He previously appeared in Neighbours nearly 30 years ago (along with two more tiny parts barely worth mentioning), which is every Australian’s rite of passage.
The Loudest Voice picks up Ailes’s life story at the launch of Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News in 1996, but here’s some more background: Ailes was a long-time political advisor, including to Richard Nixon – who famously botched his first television appearance opposite JFK, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush.
Ailes worked on Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign, and in 2016, he became an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign.
Oh, Donald. He’s always been great fan of Fox News, which is unashamedly a mouthpiece for his policies, and he used to be a regular ranting guest on various shows long before his political career.
Naomi Watts plays Gretchen Carlson, the former beauty queen and commentator, journalist and author who called Ailes out for sexual harassment when her contract with Fox News ended. The company settled to the tune of $20 million.
It wasn’t the first time such a deal had been struck.
Bill O’Reilly, who hosted The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, saw his media career in tatters after several New York Times investigations revealed he had paid six women nearly $50 million to settle various sexual harassment lawsuits.
Then there is Bill Shine, Fox News co-president for less than a year, who was named in at least four lawsuits against Fox alleging sexual harassment or racial discrimination by the company. He was White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications in the Trump administration, a post he resigned in March 2019 to become senior advisor for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
Also in the cast of The Loudest Voice is Sienna Miller (similarly made up and prosthetically enhanced) as Roger’s wife Beth. Seth MacFarlane plays former Fox News VP Brian Lewis. His misconduct was of the financial kind.
This charming bunch show us we don’t have to look far from the real world to find creepy villains.