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Special Bulletin (1983)

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director:

Edward Zwick

Writers:

Marshall Herskovitz (teleplay), Edward Zwick (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Flanders ... John Woodley
Kathryn Walker ... Susan Myles
Roxanne Hart ... Megan 'Meg' Barclay
Christopher Allport ... Steven Levitt
David Clennon ... Dr. Bruce Lyman
David Rasche ... Dr. David McKeeson
Rosalind Cash ... Frieda Barton
Ebbe Roe Smith ... Jim Seaver
Roberta Maxwell ... Diane Silverman
Robert Kay Robert Kay ... George Takashima
J. Wesley Huston J. Wesley Huston ... Bernard Frost
Frank Dent Frank Dent ... Dr. Jason Halpern
Charles Lanyer Charles Lanyer ... Merritt Cunningham
Mie Hunt Mie Hunt ... Ellen Stevens
Bruce Fields Bruce Fields ... Walter S. Letteau
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Storyline

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC area so they may be detonated at sea. They threaten to detonate a nuclear device of their own if their demand isn't met. Written by Keith Chang <changk@ucs.orst.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 March 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Boletín especial See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was part of a 1980s cycle of films about atomic bombs and nuclear warfare which had started in 1979 with The China Syndrome (1979). The films included Silkwood (1983), Testament (1983), Threads (1984), WarGames (1983), The Day After (1983), The Atomic Cafe (1982), The Manhattan Project (1986), Whoops Apocalypse (1982), Special Bulletin (1983), Ground Zero (1987), Barefoot Gen (Barefoot Gen (1983)), Rules of Engagement (1989), When the Wind Blows (1986), Letters from a Dead Man (Dead Man's Letters (1986)), Memoirs of a Survivor (1981) and The Chain Reaction (1980). See more »

Goofs

When the RBS newsroom transfers to their reporter Megan Barclay in Charleston, she begins her report saying; "The situation began approximately 1 hour ago". The report then screens some video from their reporting team and then shows some Super-8 footage which was filmed by a tourist on a sightseeing boat. Super-8 is a film, not video, format. Normally the cost of the film cartridge included postage to a Kodak laboratory where it would be developed and then mailed back to the owner. In this instance, After the boat had reached shore, it would have been necessary to take the film to a Kodak developing facility to be processed, after which it could be taken to the news studio. Due to the time required to get the film to a laboratory for processing and then to get to the news studio it would have been impossible to do this within the time allowed. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Bruce Lyman: We're a group, we're a group that believes in survival, and I am a former strategic weapons planner for the Pentagon, so I know whereof I speak. There has been a serious change in the strategic thinking of our leaders; they now believe that they can wage nuclear war, they believe that they will wage nuclear war and they believe they can win it. Now if that frightens you, that's good, we're here in Charleston today because Charleston is a major staging area for nuclear offense. You have Poseidon...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opens with a commercial advertising shows for the fictional RBS network, followed by the title "Special Bulletin" as the commercial is interrupted. There are no opening credits, making this one of the first TV movies ever produced without some sort of opening credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

The video release omits the "dramatization" on-screen disclaimer seen throughout the original TV broadcast. The DVD released through the Warner Archive Collection does contain the on-screen disclaimers. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Far ahead of its time
19 February 2005 | by mmears-1See all my reviews

Though this originally aired (on NBC, if I remember correctly) in 1984, it was prescient in how it depicted news media coverage of a "breaking news" event.

Complete with glitzy (for their time) graphics, concerned anchors, wall-to-wall coverage, talking heads, and gripping live reports, it does not seem dated (except for the hair styles!), even today.

Though it depicts the coverage of a hostage crisis by a fourth broadcast network, this aired a year before the Fox network came into existence. The RBS network's graphics, promotional spots, and anchors are so realistic that the real network that aired the film really didn't have any choice but to continually remind viewers that what they were watching was fiction. And though we're all familiar today with the news networks' saturation coverage of live events, this originally aired only 4 years after the inception of CNN -- before that network was the major force that it is today.

Depicting a gripping series of events, it's as much or more of a commentary on how the news media handles such situations than anything else. The way that the events are presented will seem eerily familiar to anyone in today's world, but remember that terrorism was not a big concern to many people 20 years ago.

The acting and production values combine to make for one of the most powerful films ever produced for television. I highly recommend this film not only for its impact, but for its almost too accurate portrayal of events that are all too easy to imagine in today's world.


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