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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 »



(teleplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
Won 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Woodley
Susan Myles
Steven Levitt
Dr. Bruce Lyman
Dr. David McKeeson
Frieda Barton
Jim Seaver
Diane Silverman
Robert Kay ...
George Takashima
J. Wesley Huston ...
Bernard Frost
Frank Dent ...
Dr. Jason Halpern
Charles Lanyer ...
Merritt Cunningham
Mie Hunt ...
Ellen Stevens
Bruce Fields ...
Walter S. Letteau


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







Release Date:

20 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Boletín especial  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Plutonium, with a yield of 19 kilotons per kilogram, and the bomb on board having 5.2 kilograms of plutonium, the constructed bomb has a theoretical yield of 98.8 kilotons. The Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki contained 6.2 kilograms of plutonium and yielded only 20 kilotons, but with better technology and design refinements, the terrorists probably got substantially more than 20 kilotons (but nowhere near the "ideal" 98.8 kilotons). See more »


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 »


Susan Myles: Good evening, this is News Watch. Emergency efforts continue in Charleston, South Carolina, where 3 days ago a nuclear explosion destroyed the heart of the city. Estimated at an yield of 23,000 tons of TNT was seen and heard up to 400 miles away and created a firestorm that is still burning in several areas. Due to early evacuations, the number of dead is estimated at less than 2,000, but at last count there were more than 25,000 injured. Many of those are burnt and have been flown to hospitals...
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 »

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User Reviews

7 October 2002 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I was in the studio of WMAR-TV the night this excellent "disaster" film was shown, due to the fact that the Management heard about our OTR Club and that we had WOTW in our collection. I was invited to watch the show and to compare it with the panic b/cast on the 11 o'clock news that followed.

I told them it was very well done, and was very realistic. Had they not had the disclaimers on the screen it could have well been taken for the real thing. I told them if they would have cast real reporters in the major roles it would have added something to the show. Orson Welles used real names of NY based reporters for the broadcast of WOTW which really gave it that authentic feeling. And with the "Secretary Of State" sounding like Roosevelt was the icing on the cake.

I pointed out that at the time Special Bulletin was aired the American public was not as gullible as they were in 1938.(We even played some clips of WOTW to compare it with Special Bulletin). We were on the brink of War and any program like that, would of course cause concern, which, unfortunately it did.

Al in all this film was very well done and was more or less a tribute to Orson Welles and WOTW.


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