April 20, 2024

Media Decoder: CNBC Takes a Hollywood Turn

Every few minutes in “Too Big to Fail,” the film about the darkest days of the financial crisis in 2008 that will have its premiere Monday on HBO, something happens that once seemed unbelievable. Banks collapse. Balance sheets crumble. Government officials plot extraordinary interventions to curb the free fall.

And every few minutes, a news clip or a sound bite from CNBC pops up, seemingly as a reminder to the viewer that it all really happened in real time. In a sense, the news became an extra actor in the film.

In the movie, adapted from the book by
Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times, some of the news clips are exactly as heard or shown on CNBC as the crisis unfolded. But other scenes are amalgams of broadcasts from different times in the same week.

CNBC anchors and reporters reread, and in some cases, reshot some of their reports.

Erin Burnett, then a CNBC anchor, said she had “something like five outfits” for the reshoots and was “done in less than half an hour.”

HBO, which is owned by Time Warner, struck a licensing deal with CNBC, which is controlled by Comcast’s NBC Universal division, for the footage.

The film also uses footage from news programs on CNN, which, like HBO, is owned by Time Warner. But CNBC is still the sort of omnipresent narrator, giving a play-by-play about troubled banks and the federal response to the troubles.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and others from CNBC were among those at a film screening in New York last week. “As it was happening we knew we were on the front lines of something historic, so it makes sense that HBO would use CNBC as the voice, but it was thrilling and gratifying to actually watch it,” Ms. Caruso-Cabrera said in an e-mail.

The film also shows the role that CNBC played in funneling information between the government and Wall Street. In one pivotal scene, Henry Paulson, then the Treasury secretary, directs his staff to leak word that the government will not aid Lehman Brothers; in the next scene, Lehman executives direct their attention to the TV set as CNBC relays Mr. Paulson’s sentiments.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6a8e438fbe5e1761619d5897908ef0de

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