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+

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