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Old 08-06-2021, 12:10 AM   #1
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Question Why was Judd Hirsch's name billed on top of the credits before the title of the show

Yes, Alex was clearly the nominal lead character and voice of reason but Taxi was always more of an ensemble show. The story that I've been told was that the producers really wanted Judd for the role. But he was reluctant to commit to doing a weekly TV series. So he asked for a lot of money. Not only did the producers give him the money that he was asked for, they even threw in placing his name over the title.

Was Judd Hirsch, with all do respect, really a "name" actor prior to Taxi? I'm aware that he was an accomplished stage actor and he had an Academy Award nomination for Ordinary People, but the latter came in the middle of his stint on Taxi.
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Old 08-06-2021, 11:38 AM   #2
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And why did Jeff Conaway's name appear next? Was he expected to play a more significant role in the series?

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Old 08-06-2021, 12:25 PM   #3
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Perhaps I'm being overly simplistic, but I never heard of ANY of the cast members prior to Taxi. So, with Alex Rieger being the only non-eccentric among the cast, it just made sense to me that his role was the central one .

So, perhaps it wasn't so much a matter of Hersh getting top billing, as it is giving Rieger front row center attention?
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Old 08-06-2021, 01:10 PM   #4
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TMC said:

"Was Judd Hirsch, with all do respect, really a "name" actor prior to Taxi? I'm aware that he was an accomplished stage actor and he had an Academy Award nomination for Ordinary People, but the latter came in the middle of his stint on Taxi".

Judd Hirsch had already starred in a TV series, "Delvecchio" (he played the lead character) during the 1976-77 TV season so in fact he was already a TV star going into Taxi. I'm sure the series creators saw the character of Alex as the central character (take a look at how the series opens a lone taxi driving across the Queensboro Bridge), he's introduced to the TV audience as the only person in the garage who's just a taxi driver.

Sarah Bellum said:

"And why did Jeff Conaway's name appear next"

I think the series creators envisioned the Wheeler character as being a bigger part of the show than the character turned out to be. Based on the creators vision and the fact that Conaway did have IMD credits he was in a good negotiating when it came to when his name would appear. I believe Conaway could have done more with the role than he did, as a result he was written out of the series.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GentlemanJim View Post
Perhaps I'm being overly simplistic, but I never heard of ANY of the cast members prior to Taxi. So, with Alex Rieger being the only non-eccentric among the cast, it just made sense to me that his role was the central one .

So, perhaps it wasn't so much a matter of Hersh getting top billing, as it is giving Rieger front row center attention?
Of course, I wasn't around at the time, but I would assume that people would've at the very least, recognized Jeff Conaway, since he was off the heels of appearing in a mega-blockbuster in Grease. And Andy Kaufman was making a name for himself with his appearances on SNL and other variety and talk shows (like Van Dyke and Company with Dick Van Dyke and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson) doing his "Foreign Man" act and Elvis Presley impersonation.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:47 PM   #6
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Hirsch was the star of the show, the lead.

A lead, in many cases, will have his name above the title.

Billing is negotiated by either the manager or agent.
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