During the five years Taxi was on TV, it was one of the funniest, entertaining, engaging and heartbreaking shows and it continues to be a favourite of millions around the world. Taxi focuses on a bunch of individuals who think they are destined to achieve great success but are stuck being cab drivers. The show has given us many memorable characters, including Alex Rieger, Bobby Wheeler, Elaine Nardo, Louie DePalma, Reverend Jim Ignatowski and Latka Gravas. Apart from its great acting, Taxi is also famous for making audiences cry as much as it makes them laugh and during its run, the show won 18 Emmy Awards. The show will always be remembered as an important sitcom that tackled important issues while keeping the audiences laughing, but more than anything it will be remembered for its weird misfits. So, let us tittle-tattle about the cast of Taxi.
Facts Verse Presents Behind the Scenes, the Taxi Cast was Bizarre. Before we tell you more, please like and subscribe to our channel and press the bell icon to stay updated about all our latest videos.
The Inspiration for the Show Came from a New York Magazine Article
A 1975 issue of the New York Magazine carried an article titled ‘Night Shifting for the Hip Fleet.’ The article told the story of David, a PhD student who rides cabs to make some money and keep him going until he receives his PhD and lands a decent-paying job, as well as thousands of others like him. This article gave James L.Brooks the idea of an ensemble show revolving around a New York taxi company. At the time, Brooks had formed a production company with David Davis, Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels. This is how the four started working on the idea for Taxi.
Judd Hirsch Didn’t Want to Be a Part of the Show
Judd Hirsch was a stage actor and had guest-starred on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where the show’s four creators worked. Brooks and the team were so impressed by Hirsch that they offered him a lead role in the Taxi. However, Hirsch did not want to commit to television and instead focus on theatre. So he responded with a counter-offer that he was convinced the producers of the show wouldn’t accept. To his surprise, not only was his offer accepted, but his name was also added over the title of the show. Hirsch then didn’t have any choice but to join the cast of Taxi.
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Danny DeVito Auditioned the Louie De Palma Way
Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson had warned Danny DeVito against doing television, as it is a big commitment. However, DeVito loved the scriptand when he went to audition for the role, he decided to audition as his character. In an interview, DeVito said that when he walked into the conference room where the show’s four creators were sitting, the first thing he asked them was ‘who wrote this shit?’ The producers and creators loved this first impression and immediately cast DeVito as Louie DePalma.
Tony Danza, Who Played Tony Banta, Was a Boxer in Real Life
When Brooks started working on Taxi, one of the characters he had in mind was an Irish heavyweight boxer. Brooks wanted to name this character Phil Ryan. Tony Danza was a professional boxer who used to train at the Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, where all the movie makers who are interested in boxing went to do research on the subject. It was at Gleason’s that producers Larry Gordon and Joel Silver, who were at the time casting for The Warriors, saw Tony and requested him to come and audition for the film. Tony was about to sign the film when Brooks requested him to audition for Taxi.
Brooks really liked Tony and therefore, decided to change Phil Ryan to ‘Tony’ Banta. This made Tony happy and he decided to quit the film and take the role in Taxi instead. Many years later, Ed Weinberger told Tony Danza that they had changed the character’s name to Tony Banta as they were convinced that Tony wouldn’t ever remember to respond to Phil.
Here’s a fun fact. The opening sequence of Taxi shows a cab moving across New York’s Queensboro Bridge. The person behind the drive wheel is Tony Danza.
Kaufman Was Asked to Shoot Only Twice a Week
The producers of the show were huge fans of Andy Kaufman and therefore, wanted him to play the role of the ‘Foreign Man’ in the series. However, Kaufman didn’t want to do television as it consumed a lot of time. Therefore, the producers decided to make concessions — Kaufman was asked to come to the studio only twice a week — he would come to the studio for run-throughs on Tuesday and for shooting on Friday. Most of the days, Kaufman used to be late, causing his co-stars to feel irritated.
Kaufman Wasn’t Easy to Work With
Kaufman did not only play Latka Gravas on the show but also Tony Clifton. When he was offered the role of Tony Clifton, he said that he would accept the role only if Tony had a separate contract, dressing room and parking spot. He also made it clear that everyone on the sets should call him ‘Tony’ and not ‘Andy.’ The producers agreed. However, Kaufman’s cast members rarely enjoyed shooting with him.
While shooting for the episode ‘A Full House for Christmas’, Andy arrived late on the set with two prostitutes and kept the team members waiting for an hour while he enjoyed their company. When they finally started shooting, Tony not only kept changing his lines but also added lines for his female friends. This irritated the other cast members so much that Jeff Conaway left the set and Judd Hirsch ended up entering into a full-blown tussle with Tony Clifton.
Jeff Conaway Was Supposed to Play John Burns and Not Bobby Wheeler
When the creators of the show wrote the character of Bobby Wheeler, they had made up their mind to cast a black actor in the role. Jeff Conaway, who played Bobby Wheeler, was actually going to be cast as John Burns. However, Conaway was convinced that he would make a better Bobby Wheeler. He, therefore, lobbied for the role, ultimately winning a reading with Hirsch, which got him the role.
The Story Goes That Conaway Was Fired from the Show
In 2001, Jeff Conaway claimed in an interview that he left Taxi because the producers and creators of the show disrespected their deal and agreement. However, the story goes that Sam Simon, producer and writer on Taxi, fired Conaway after he found him lying on the floor of his dressing room, too high on drugs to shoot any scenes. This made Sam livid. He decided to go ahead with the shoot with DeVito and Lloyd taking Conaway’s line. When the show aired, all of Conaway’s lines delivered by DeVito and Lloyd gathered great laughter from the audiences and that’s when the producers of the show realized that Bobby Wheeler wasn’t as important as they thought. So they fired Conaway.
When Christopher Lloyd Came to Audition, a Receptionist Thought He Was a Homeless Person
In season one, the character of Phil Ryan, Tony Danza’s character on the show, and that of John Burns, played by Randall Carver, began to overlap with each other — both were shown to be naive and dim-witted. Thus, as the season progressed, the producers decided to write off John Burns and instead, introduced Reverend Jim Ignatowski, a burnout hippie who audiences loved for his eccentricity and goofiness.
Christopher Lloyd played the role and most of Reverend Jim’s clothes actually came from Lloyd’s wardrobe. All the old unwashed jeans that Jim wore were actually Lloyd’s and the shoes belonged to his father-in-law. When Lloyd arrived for the audition in his worn-out jeans, his father-in-law’s shoes and a jacket he borrowed from his neighbour, the receptionist thought that some homeless person had walked into the studio. She was surprised to see his name on the audition list.
They Decided the Final Theme Song After Shooting Two Episodes
Initially, the show’s producers had decided to go with ‘Touchdown’ by Jazz artist Bob James as the show’s theme song. However, while shooting for the third episode of the show, the team landed on ‘Blind Date’ by the same artist and together decided that ‘Blind Date’ was more suitable as the show’s theme song.
Taxi Was Cancelled Twice
Taxi aired on ABC on September 12, 1978. However, the network decided to cancel the show abruptly. The show and its cast, therefore, said goodbye to its audiences. However, no sooner had it gone off the air that the producers came to know that both HBO and NBC were interested in picking the series. A bidding war ensued, which NBC won. The show aired for a single season on NBC, taking the Taxi’s total episode count to 114 and converting it into a good syndication package.
Taxi was unique in that it managed to find humour in a job otherwise considered monotonous and boring. During its entire first season, the show maintained its position in the top 10 and during its entire run, it won 18 Emmy Awards, including three Emmys for Best Comedy Series. Taxi was known for its on-screen misfits but the cast members of the show were no less crazy in real life. Did you enjoy these behind-the-scenes facts about the show? Is there some gossip about the show you want to share with us? If yes, please leave a comment.
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