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WGN Channel 9 - WGN Thursday Night Movie - "Taxi Driver TV Disclaimer Ending" (1982)

On WGN Channel 9, the Thursday Night Movie one particular evening was Martin Scorsese' Taxi Driver - what you might call a "difficult" film to air on regular broadcast television. Besides making some comical expletive overdubs, they added this curious disclaimer to the end of the film, which was not present in the theatrical or DVD releases, as seen here:

"TO OUR TELEVISION AUDIENCE - In the aftermath of violence, the distinction between hero and villain is sometimes a matter of interpretation or misinterpretation of facts. TAXI DRIVER suggests that tragic errors can be made. - The Filmmakers"

This aired on local Chicago TV on Thursday, November 18th 1982.

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This clip aired on Thursday, November 18th 1982, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

Thanks for posting this. I remember seeing this at the end of a presentation by KOMO in Seattle. The film was sponsored by Craftmatic Beds, as a sort of infomercial for the bed company. I had assumed that Craftmatic placed that disclaimer at the end of the movie to distance themselves from the controversy..
Comment posted by visaman on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 12:44am.

That would had been great for a special feature on a DVD. This is one of the best movies that was released in 1976 besides "Carrie", "Network" and the Oscar winner "Rocky".
Comment posted by betamax75 on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 7:27am.

What an awesome year for movies, eh?
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 7:41am.

If it's the certain Chicago station that I'm thinking of, I'm surprised that they even attempted it (I lived in Chicago at the time but really didn't pay much attention to that station). Interesting that what was difficult to show on broadcast TV in 1982 is no big deal today.
Comment posted by HUdson 3-2700 on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 8:34am.

I'd bet the story of this is out there somewhere. Just who exactly are "The Filmmakers" and why/how were they compelled to stick this awkward frame before the credits?
Comment posted by AbeFroman on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 9:56am.

This certain station between 8 and 10 aired Pulp Fiction one night in the 90s. It was overnight on a Saturday, major scenes were deleted, and entire sections of dialogue (lasting as long as a minute) were deleted.

You almost had to ask why they bothered airing it.

Comment posted by SuperCFL on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 4:43pm.

Couldn't they have waited until AFTER the closing credits to stick that in there? Instead, it's just pasted randomly into the movie as if something onscreen was being censored.

Imagine watching the movie in your dark living room, when suddenly it jump cuts to this "warning" frame from out of nowhere. That would've startled me considerably.

Comment posted by Studio76Art on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 9:32pm.

Or, here's a better idea - treat television viewers like adults and not have *any* disclaimer. Seriously, are TV viewers supposed to need more looking after than theater patrons?
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 10:21pm.

TV executives don't insert stupid notices like this, marketing managers who are worried about upsetting their sponsors do.
Comment posted by Officedrone1 on Thursday, May 14th 2009 at 11:44pm.

Sorry, Rick, that'd make too much sense. Considering that Taxi Driver is hardly a kids' movie, you'd think the network would know better than to insult the intelligence of its audience and expect them to believe that the filmmakers actually conceived this empty disclaimer. Guess not.

However, the difference is that theaters weren't under such pressure to placate sponsors and moviegoers consequently weren't bombarded with 20 minutes of commercials like they are now.

Comment posted by Studio76Art on Friday, May 15th 2009 at 8:58pm.

Staring: Frank Adu as Angry Black Man! :'P
Comment posted by BabyBear on Saturday, May 16th 2009 at 1:44am.

It adds a sort of porno vibe to the movie, especailly with that music bed. Oohh, we just saw a dirty movie!
Comment posted by visaman on Saturday, May 16th 2009 at 4:21am.

I hate to break a few bubbles but that disclaimer was obviously not added by the station. That was added to the film print they bought. The TV version that the film studio sold. Watch it again and you will notice the softness of the graphic's lettering. If it had been added by the station it would have been a lot sharper. Wouldn't surprise me if it came edited for TV right from the film studio.

As for the assumption that TV viewers are sophisticated. Well sorry but this is America. Don't confuse it with the rest of the world where language, body parts and sexuality are the norm on TV. We don't like any of that nasty stuff. Just ask our politicians who make up all the FCC rules.

Comment posted by telefrank on Tuesday, May 19th 2009 at 10:21am.

Yeah, I instinctively knew it was on the film print too - but the more important question is, who *insisted* the film studio put it on there? Probably the marketing managers, as someone else said.

We're used to them cutting out nudity and profanity, but this was something all together different. They're placing a note at the end of a film in an effort to prevent us from making some "wrong" interpretation of the movie. Maybe they did this after Reagan was shot and the whole Jodie Foster-connection was revealed?

Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, May 19th 2009 at 1:47pm.

Fuzzy, I think you just nailed it right on the head.
Comment posted by kietdoke on Tuesday, May 19th 2009 at 2:59pm.

The ending looks suspiciously like the opening of "Nightbeat"...I'm surprised WGN didn't try to sue them.
Comment posted by yarsdad on Wednesday, May 20th 2009 at 7:44pm.

yarsdad - LoL :-)
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Wednesday, May 20th 2009 at 8:42pm.

"Taxi Driver" is now available on Blu-ray for the first time.
Comment posted by Betamax75 on Tuesday, April 5th 2011 at 10:04am.

Found an article about a 1979 showing of the movie in a NY newspaper, that has the full disclaimer as well, which would mean that they didn't put it in there specifically for the Hinkley Assassination... but, it does appear it was part of whatever "TV version" was floating around being used by stations.

It is the only mention in newspapers/magazines I could find online about the disclaimer.

Comment posted by afdave on Friday, November 18th 2011 at 7:59am.

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This clip has been viewed 3885 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Wednesday, May 13th 2009.
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Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Super Cartoon Sunrise (Jetsons Bumper #2, 1984) by OldTVNut on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 2:42pm CT

OOOPS! It seems that somebody got Jane Jetson's & Judy Jetson's hair colors mixed up LOL.


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This aired the day I was born!


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by HUdson 3-2700 on Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 8:52pm CT

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Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by GalagaFleetCommander on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 9:23pm CT

Johnny Unitas did WHAT? I can't believe that! He's got that perfect haircut you can set a watch to like Abe Simpsons said! I wonder if he made anyone any significant amount of money.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by ER3017 on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 7:37am CT

About 2 years ago, my brother and I was on our way to the park and I saw boxes and boxes of videos, and my brother and I agreed to get almost all of them. Unfortunately, due to my strength, I didn't carry a lot, so I grabbed like 2 boxes and some videos are quite interesting I tell you. I'am still waiting to deliver these to you because if I wait, not only they'll rot but worried that these will be in the dumpster like my mom did but retrieved by me thank god.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 12:48pm CT

davismv - Thanks Mark! Well, we do have some late-breaking developments - once again provided by our researcher extraordinaire, Mr. Chris Tufts (Phantom). He found this interesting article on the development of Teletext in the U.S. as well as it's use on Nite-Owl. It's from New Scientist magazine and dates to July 22nd 1982. After reading this one has to wonder - what happened? Everything seemed so rosy. They had lots of viewers, and were making some advertising money apparently. So why did Nite-Owl quit just about a month later at the end of August 1982? Were they just tired of "giving it away for free"?

In any case, Chris found another interesting article, this time from Broadcasting Magazine dated September 7th 1981. In it, we finally learn that the true start date of Nite-Owl was early Friday, September 4th at 12 Midnight! Therefore, we can say with certainty that the clip you see here is the opening of Nite-Owl's Second Episode! We'll have to adjust the airdates of a few other clips to reflect this new information.

(T.K. - the answer to your question regarding Nite-Owl's music is also in this article - although who knows, perhaps they changed music providers at some point during the run of the show)

One other thing - the article mentions that WFLD was actually including teletext pages over its regular broadcasts since April of 1981. I had never heard this before. This information just leaves me wanting more. Did they transmit the teletext pages over every program that aired on WFLD since April 1981? Secondly, if you have a recording of a WFLD broadcast from that time period and you are able to fashion some kind of decoder, can you see the original teletext pages that aired during the broadcast? According to this article, there were at least 100 decoders floating around the Chicagoland area. Did anyone save one?

davismv - Regarding your questions: this was recorded by someone who was a "serial taper" but who also apparently had a short attention span. His tapes are filled up with 4-6 hours of material per tape, and rarely are there complete programs, but instead have little "snippets" (no pun intended) of news, sports, commercials, and whatever else struck his fancy I guess. There are a lot of good "bits" but unfortunately almost each one makes you wish he stuck with the recording at least a little longer. (but then again, if he recorded longer segments we wouldn't have the variety that he captured, so it's a six-of-one situation)

Regarding finding tapes: more and more I believe that the best way to find tapes is by asking neighbors, friends, or acquaintances. Why? Because unfortunately these home recorded tapes are seen by most people as virtually worthless most of the time, and if something is viewed as worthless it has way less of a chance of even making it to a thrift store or garage sale. People would just throw them out (which is sad, I know).

Also, some thrift stores now have policies of not letting "home-recorded" tapes make it to the shelf at all - they will just toss or recycle them if donated. The reason I've heard for this is that either someone complained before about something they found on one of the tapes ("adult" content perhaps), or the thrift store people are just being proactive and trying to avoid any issues like this from happening in the first place. In any case, it does stink. One idea I had that you might want to do is call all of your local thrift stores in your area and ask them if they ever get any home-recorded tapes and what they do with them. (first hurdle is making sure they understand what you're talking about - I usually use the term home-recorded tapes and then make sure it's clear by saying I'm not talking about "store-bought" movie type tapes - but tapes that people recorded themselves at home off of TV) If they say that their policy is to just throw them away or recycle them, tell them to save them for you. Give them your name and number and tell them you will pay for them too if they are what you're looking for. Make sure you're talking to a manager or someone at the store that actually has the power to make this change. Also remind the manager to inform his workers so that they are aware of what to do with the tapes too. And lastly, it couldn't hurt to call the stores again every couple months or so, and talk to the same manager if possible, to double check they are still saving tapes for you and that they haven't lost your contact info. :-)

One last tip - when buying tapes I don't buy them based on what is on the labels. The stuff written on the labels can be a red herring. I go by the age of the tapes. If you've been doing this long enough you can identify a pre-1985 videotape just by the box style as well as certain markings on the videotape itself. The stuff written on the labels can be a nice clue, but again I don't hold much stock in it. There could be a Sony K-60 Betamax tape that could potentially date to 1975 and the person could have recorded over most of it and wrote "Jurassic Park 2" on the label - doesn't matter - because you may still find an untouched 10-20 minutes at the end of the tape of a 1978 airing of Baretta with original commercial breaks for all you know. Anyway, happy hunting and of course please let me know if you find anything good. :-)


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by Phantom on Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 6:41pm CT

An article in Broadcasting Magazine in February 1982 says Nite-Owl had as many as 110,000 viewers on some nights.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by T.K. on Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 10:04pm CT

It struck me how much Keyfax resembles the graphics of the Prodigy online service several years later. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because they both used the NAPLPS graphics language, which was originally developed for videotex and teletext use.

Now I'm curious how Nite-Owl's music feed originated. Usually the all-night news tickers run by stations in other cities simply carried audio from a sister radio station or the local National Weather Service broadcast. It sounds like Nite-Owl had a dedicated playlist. Did WFLD have a full-blown radio automation system with multiple carts and reels run off a clock, like something by Harris or IGM? Or did someone just dub everything together onto a new reel for each night's playback? Or did the overnight master-control operator sit there and play each song back from its own cart?


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by Detroit4Chicago on Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 12:09pm CT

Kinda neat to see an early computer-based newsfax system up and running for a UHF Station in a big market about this time. I'm thinking WFLD was trying this out to see if it became successful, it would have been used within years at the other Field stations across the country. Another possibility was to compete locally against WGN, WBBM and possibly WSNS (with of course, ON-TV) in the wee hours of the morning.

But what's neater-than-neat? Watching the Empire State Building take off like a Saturn V rocket in Commodore 65 form!


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