Concept

Special Bulletin

Summary
Special Bulletin is a 1983 American drama television film directed by Edward Zwick and written by Marshall Herskovitz, based on a story by both. It was an early collaboration between the two, who would later produce such series as thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. The film was first broadcast March 20, 1983 on NBC as part of NBC Sunday Night at the Movies. In the film, a terrorist group brings a homemade atomic bomb aboard a tugboat in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina in order to blackmail the U.S. government into disabling its nuclear weapons, and the incident is caught live on television. It simulates a series of live news broadcasts on the fictional RBS Network. The entirety of the film is portrayed through the perspective of a news broadcast through the fictional RBS news network. It begins with promotional scenes from other RBS Network shows. One is cut off by the announcement "We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this Special Bulletin from RBS News." In Charleston, South Carolina, a skirmish is fought between Coast Guard personnel and a group of terrorists aboard a docked tugboat called Liberty May in Charleston Harbor. Caught in the battle while reporting an unrelated story, RBS reporter Steve Levitt and his cameraman George Takashima are taken hostage aboard the boat. As part of a deal to release the surrendered Coast Guardsmen, the terrorists; Doctors Bruce Lyman and David McKeeson, political activist Frieda Barton, social worker Diane Silverman, and mentally unstable ex-convict Jim Seaver, ask to broadcast their demands to the U.S. Government. Dr. Lyman demands the triggers for all 968 nuclear devices in the area (Charleston Naval Shipyard and the Polaris Missile Facility, Atlantic (POMFLANT) at the nearby Naval Weapons Station being an important staging ground for U.S. nuclear submarines) delivered to them, intending to destroy them by dropping them in the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Lyman states that failure to oblige to the demand or any deviation from the plan will result in the group detonating their own improvised nuclear device stowed aboard the ship.
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