There was a bit of astonishment when word came out that Blumhouse was going to produce The Loudest Voice, a Showtime miniseries about Fox News founder Roger Ailes. Why would the production company that gave us =Paranormal Activity, The Purge and the latest installment of Halloween be interested in the politically driven and recently deceased figure? Well five minutes into the first episode, it’s pretty easy to see the appeal. Roger Ailes was a supernatural monster. If Michael Myers wouldn’t shut up as he terrorized people, he’d be Roger Ailes. He is beyond horrific in his approach to journalism and politics mixing. Ailes proves to be a nightmare to all employees – especially any females trapped inside the ultra secure Fox New Studios.
The second episodes each represent a pivotal time for Ailes (Gladiator‘s Russell Crowe) and Fox News. The first episode “1995” covers how Ailes was fired from CNBC for his behavior. As part of his severance package, Ailes is agrees not to work for various media outlets. But he notices that NBC didn’t make any mention of starting his own news network. This is perfect since his next bold move was to work with Rupert Murdoch ( Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1‘s Simon McBurney) to create a channel that can complete with CNN and the upcoming MSNBC. While News Corp executives project a channel that will appeal to everyone, Ailes wants it targeted at conservative viewers who hate reporters. This is exactly what he gives them when he centers Fox News not on reporters, but commentators. As Ailes once said, “People don’t want to be informed, they want to feel informed.” “2001” is when he truly turns the corner in the ratings when he uses 9/11 as a way to turn the channel super patriotic. He wants to go to war with Iraq as much as his friends in the White House. “2008” has him and his network go to war with the White House when Obama gets elected after the channel went after the candidate. He believes the channel lost and not merely John McCain.
The series isn’t just about achievements in shady journalism. There’s a lot of coverage about how hands on Ailes was with his female staffers and on air personalities. He basically forces Laurie Luhn (Peaky Blinders‘ Annabelle Wallis) into having a long term affair. He keeps wanting to do the same with Gretchen Carlson (King Kong‘s Naomi Watts) so he can be with his third Miss America. Even though she doesn’t play much of a reporter on her morning show, Carlson wisely tapes her private encounters with Ailes as things get rocky for her at the channel. This leads towards the ultimate showdown for Ailes.
Russell Crowe’s performance as Ailes allows us to see how this slightly charming guy can turn into a monster once the doors are shut. The make up transforms the former Gladiator into an overweight and elderly perv. The make up is so effective, you’d think Russell Crowe has just gone to hell over the last few years. This is one of his finest acting jobs as he turns on the charm and also the darkness. The scenes with him videotaping a barely willing Luhn in their hotel room are so emotionally dark. He doesn’t make us feel any false sympathy for this monster of a man. His conspiracy rants aren’t comical, but fearful. How can someone who thinks this way obtain so much power? He was a disturbing person who’d say anything to get his way. Even more frightening is how Ailes becomes the guiding hand behind getting Donald Trump to run for president. Ailes even offered the candidate plenty of help while still running Fox News. He didn’t see that as a conflict of interest because what’s the point of having so much power and not using it?
The Loudest Voice establishes is how Fox News was a cult that dared not question the genius of Roger Ailes. No one on staff needed to deeply investigate and verify any of the conspiracy theories that he wanted pushed on the air by his commentators. They merely had to use the phrase “I’ve heard other say….” and there’s no need to provide real proof. Ailes talks about how merely wants to control how his audience feels about the news and not what they think about. You see that attitude even more now. The Loudest Voice gets deep into the master manipulations of Ailes.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The resolution lets you see how much Russell Crowe could do even when turned into Ailes without showing any seems in the make up. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and a stereo mix. The creepy scenes where Roger is molesting his talent sounds as nasty as it looks. The episodes are subtitled.
Creating The Loudest Voice (4:57) is a quickie piece on the miniseries and Ailes.
CBS DVD presents The Loudest Voice. Starring: Russell Crowe, Seth MacFarlane, Sienna Miller, Simon McBurney, Annabelle Wallis, Aleksa Palladino & Naomi Watts. Boxset Contents: 7 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: December 10, 2019.
Tags: Blumhouse Productions, Russell Crowe, Showtime, The Loudest Voice