“TIMES SQUARE ‘package’ due shortly”

Posted on 12th March 2015 in "Times Square"
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Scene Vol 11 No 32, Aug. 21-27, 1980
 
Even the culturally barren industrial wasteland of Northeast Ohio was receiving word of the impending great event. I’m kidding, of course; Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown… this area birthed Pere Ubu, the Dead Boys, and Devo, so it seems right that not only did the August 21 1980 Scene make the release of Times Square in two months front-page news, but it gave the story a title that seems a bit cynically bored with the obvious commercialism. The focus is already on pitching the music before the film. In fact, the movie seems to be an afterthought — this article is promoting a media assault on all fronts by the Robert Stigwood Organization, not a neat little film by Allan Moyle.

This may be the only pre-release article that describes the soundtrack by only listing artists who are actually on it, with no mention of Tom Petty or David Bowie. I wonder if it’s possible this was written after the soundtrack had been completely finished, but published before… well, there’s at least one more article that promotes Tom Petty. This article also calls the soundtrack “long-awaited” — was there that much pre-release buzz about the music? I’d be very interested to see mentions of it before this in the music press.

Sadly, although Times Square was front-page news, it didn’t rate a photograph.

TIMES SQUARE "package" due shortly

So, I’ll stretch this post by including the text of the article:

Soundtrack LP, singles and films:

TIMES SQUARE “package” due shortly

Everyone is aware that movie soundtracks are now selling extraordinarily well. Well, you may not have seen nothin’ yet. Soon to be released is the long-awaited soundtrack to TIMES SQUARE, the first in-house movie / music marriage produced by the Robert Stigwood Organization (RSO) since its phenomenally successful projects, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and GREASE. The latter LPs are the two biggest selling soundtrack albums in history.

Two singles — “Rock Hard” (written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman) sung by Suzi Quatro and “Help Me!” performed by Robin Gibb and Marcy Levy — are to be released prior to the album’s release date. The LP is expected to follow the initial singles’ release by about three weeks; TIMES SQUARE, the film, will open nationally in the Fall.

The film has been called something of a SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER with the exception of its musical focus. TIMES SQUARE is paced by a new wave beat. Certainly the soundtrack seems to support that claim. Listed among the talent line-up are: Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, Patti Smith, XTC, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The Ruts, Desmond Child and Rouge, Levy and Gibb, D.L. Byron and David Johansen. Whew…

TIMES SQUARE is the first of several major features to be filmed by Robert Stigwood in New York City. It’s an original story about two teenage girls (Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado) who run away to Times Square. Tim Curry (of singing and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW fame) plays the role of the all-night disc jockey who sympathizes with the girls.

 

 

“TIMES SQUARE ‘package’ due shortly”
“Scene,” Vol 11 No 32, August 21-27 1980, p.1
(“Scene:”) 17.5 in (H) x 11.5 in (W), 20 pp. (work);
1080 px (H) x 690 px (W), 96 dpi, 601 kb (image)
(article:) 1080 px (W) x 570 px (H), 96 dpi, 519 kb (image)

 

Scene ©1980 Northeast Scene, Inc

 

“The Trend Settles in New York”

Posted on 13th February 2015 in "Times Square"
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I confess I don’t quite understand what that title means. Am I missing something clever?

 
"The Trend Settles In New York," by Tony DeSena, "The Aquarian," April 23-30, 1980, p. 22 (10-A)

This article was published at the end of April 1980, from an interview done when there were two weeks left of principal photography, and is chock full of things to raise an eyebrow at. To start with, director Allan Moyle starts off saying that the lab ruined the footage of the crane shot of the crowd at the concert in Times Square. Evidently enough survived to edit into the film, since the movie closes with a shot exactly as he describes, but more interestingly, that was one of the first things shot, and he’s only now finding out that the footage was destroyed? Wasn’t it shot in November of 1979? How long was the shooting schedule anyway? I’m guessing the interview was probably done in December 1979, and then held until the timing was better for advance publicity. (On the Anchor Bay Times Square DVD commentary track, Moyle describes all sorts of things going wrong during the concert shoot, and footage being destroyed during production isn’t one of them.)
 

Moyle is described as “optimistic,” and Robert Stigwood

has been described as “very supportive,” which usually translates into, “He’s not breathing down our necks — he’s letting us work.”

Stop laughing. Oh, you’re crying? I’m sorry.

Regarding the soundtrack, the first artist mentioned is Tom Petty, who isn’t on the soundtrack. This announcement is later repeated in other pre-release articles.

On the day I spoke with him, Allan Moyle was shooting inside the old San Juan Theatre, on 165th Street on Upper Manhattan’s West Side. The scene being shot was a tender reconciliation between father and daughter, near the end of the film.

No such scene appears in the film, or in the early draft of the screenplay we have. This theater must have been doubling for another location, or perhaps had a set built inside it, or the article’s author was describing the scene incorrectly… we may never know. Maybe it was a wrong description of Mr. Pearl’s speech that sets Pammy off?

Also, unlike the movie, the article spells Allan Moyle’s first name correctly.

The article concludes saying the production is “aiming for a late summer release date next year,” which would be 1981. Times Square opened October 17, 1980; assuming the article was written in 1979 and not re-edited when it was published five months later, it’s correct.

I can’t say with 100% certainty, but so far it looks like the two images that accompany this article were published in other magazine articles, but didn’t appear in any of the publicity packages released by AFD or EMI. If I find them, though, you’ll be the first to know.

One last thing: although I may very likely have been reading The Aquarian in April 1980, I never saved any of them, and this article at the time wouldn’t have meant anything to me anyway. This item is a photocopy I came across while going through my Robin Johnson stuff for this project, and I don’t know where it came from.

 

 

“The Trend Settles In New York”
DeSena, Tony; “The Aquarian,” April 23-April 30 1980, p. 22 (10-A) [photocopy of article]
8.5 in (H) x 11 in (W) (work)
839 px (H) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 685 KB (image [jpg])

 

 

WJAD

Posted on 23rd October 2014 in "Times Square"
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The originals of these first two images weren’t collected by me. They’re located on an old, apparently long-abandoned Angelfire site on which Mr. Charles E. Rowe, Jr. documented some of his career in radio, part of which was spent at the Bainbridge, Georgia station WJAD (now WGEX). When these call letters were used for the fictional New York City station in Times Square, it was an important event, so of course he documented it. Unfortunately, two of Mr. Rowe’s four images have not survived, having vanished from the Web even before Archive.org’s first crawl of the site in 2001. (Or their links or filenames were mis-written — either way, they’re inaccessible.)"Stigwood's Flick Set For Summer" from Radio and Records 1980 So we don’t have the picture he captioned “Letter from Ron Stigwood requesting permission to use Station Call Lettters WJAD for ‘Times Square’ Movie” (Ron Stigwood was Times Square‘s Location Manager). I might have a copy of his “Promotional Flier Cover Page for the newly released movie,” but I may never know for sure what the image was he was describing.

We do have his “Radio and Records announcement of the production of the movie,” and it’s the earliest piece of advance promotion I know of. And the destiny of the film’s production is right there plain as day. As you might remember from a few episodes ago, Jacob Brackman’s screenplay from Allan Moyle’s story had a soundtrack of early 70’s FM soft rock and a little disco. This article makes it firmly “Stigwood’s flick,” and defines it as “A New Wave ‘Saturday Night Fever.'” Not one frame had yet been shot, and the focus had already shifted to the soundtrack, to be made up entirely of songs that had no place in the original concept.

(Yes, this publication was for radio professionals who of course would be more interested in the music than the film itself. And yes, the New Wave focus of the soundtrack is one of the best things about the finished movie. That’s not the point. The moment Robert Stigwood agreed to produce the film, it became a tool for him to sell records and its fate was set.)

"Picture of Station Call Letters WJAD sign of steel and neon construction on a downtown building, in the Big Apple"

 

 

Mr. Rowe described this photograph “Picture of Station Call Letters WJAD sign of steel and neon construction on a downtown building, in the Big Apple.” Actually, it’s not downtown at all; it’s the Candler Building, 220 West 42nd St., in the heart of Times Square right where Johnny LaGuardia says it is. Directly across the street from the Times Square Theater. The neon sign is facing east, as far as I can tell. The right side of the building in the picture is facing north and 42nd Street.

I don’t know where the interiors of WJAD were shot, but all the exteriors were shot there at the top of the Candler Building. The early shots in the film showing the Carter Hotel, the Times Square Building, and the Milford Plaza (which I think hadn’t yet been reopened under that name) were taken from there. That much was accurate; if the station was supposed to be located there, that’s exactly what Johnny was seeing when he went outside.

WJAD New York, in "the Heart of the Beast"

 

 

 

 

In this screencap from the film, you can just make out Johnny’s telescope.

 

Yeah, other than the mention in that Stigwood article, there’s no Robin in this post. Sorry about that. I’ll do better next time.

 

 

TimesSqPromo.jpg
315 px (W) x 377 px (H), 100 dpi, 42.9 KB (image)
ca. 1980
retrieved on 2014-03-23 from http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/charlierowejr/times.html
 
WJADintheBigApple.jpg
346 px (W) x 465 px (H), 100 dpi, 31.6 KB (image)
ca. 1980
retrieved on 2014-03-23 from http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/charlierowejr/times.html
 
vlcsnap-2014-10-16-21h04m08s42.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 404 KB (image)
screen capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-10-18
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+