In the adaption of best-selling book The Loudest Voice in the Room, Showtime shines a spotlight on one of the biggest media figures of the 21st century: Fox News founder Roger Ailes.
Former chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes passed away in 2017 but the influence his media empire plays in shaping the modern Republican Party lives on. In Showtime’s seven-part series The Loudest Voice, Russell Crowe portrays Ailes’ epic career arc.
In Gabriel Sherman’s sweeping biography on Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country, the political commentator, author and fellow at the New America Foundation, follows Ailes from humble Ohio roots through the Nixon years to how he shaped the modern conservative media complex. In the Showtime mini television series adaptation of his work, the focus stays squarely on Ailes, played by Russell Crowe, and his rise and fall from grace as Chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Television Stations. We caught up with showrunner Alex Metcalf (Sharp Objects) to learn more about the seven part series which is slated to air June 30th.
Why did you choose to take on this project? ALEX METCALF: Roger Ailes is a uniquely American figure. Arguably one of the most influential of the last few decades. The opportunity to get inside such a man, to try and understand what makes him tick, is a challenge I couldn't resist. Also, Gabe’s book was such a detailed wealth of information, it’s rare to get such a well-sourced and uniquely placed piece of source material.
The influence of Fox News on American culture seems to having a moment. Why now? AM: The entire time we worked on this piece, the constant refrain was “we have to do it now. Now is the perfect moment.” But it took almost two years. And during that time, Fox became ever more important to the American political conversation. So it’s less a matter of “now” than it is understanding that Fox has been a uniquely powerful voice in our body politic for over two decades. It’s only since the last election, and with the profound link between Fox and President Trump, that makes it seem like it's Fox’s “moment.” In truth, it’s been Fox’s moment for quite a long time.
What surprised you most about this subject matter in researching it? AM: How much love and respect people had for Roger. While my initial impression of Roger was as a hard, unforgiving boss, I was always struck by the almost reverential way his employees and ex-employees talked about him. Not all of them, of course, but Roger was clearly a man who engendered great loyalty among most of those who worked for him.
How did you go about doing the research for the project? AM: The major point of research was the work of Gabe Sherman, both his book and his work on Fox and Roger for New York Magazine. While we did consult other sources, the show is a reflection of Gabe’s solid, uncompromising work.
How did we get to this point with Fox News playing such a direct role in the direction of our government? AM: I think that’s a function of both Roger and Trump. The Fox core audience seems ready-made to become Trump’s base. So the echo chamber between the two makes total sense. Roger and Trump are both showmen. And they’re playing to their audience.