The search for the Weigman & Darnell films

I happen to come across this news article from about two years ago, where the late Gary Mack visited the archives of NBC5 in East Fort Worth.

The video shows the late Gary Mack of the 6th Floor Museum going into a room in a basement of NBC 5, where various boxes are standing on shelves which contain WBAP (later to become KXAS) film spools of the JFK Assassination and above all its aftermath, looking at this makes me think about all the excuses TV corporations and disinfo agents spread about the films being hard to find or ‘locked away’ when the video clearly shows that the films are just chucked in a box without any serious form of preservation and identification present.

Our quest is to find the best possible versions of the Dave Weigman and Jimmy Darnell films, they are very hard to find so it seems, and we have been trying to locate them for quite some time now.

Then UNT Libraries posts a release that they will house the complete news archive from NBC5/KXAS (formely WBAP)  from 1950 – 2012 and that the UNT Library will digitise all this material.

 

I contacted the UNT Library and conversed  with Morgan Gieringer, who told me that they had all the films except the JFK Assassination related material (why was this exception made?), since those, according to her message, went to the 6th Floor Museum (there was not a word about this in the press release).

The first thing I did when I was notified was to contact the 6th Floor Museum through Twitter and asked them if they had these films. To which I got the following reply.
twitter 6th floor museum asking where is the darnell film

 

In March 2015, Gary Mack had sent a few members of the Education Forum a PM which contained some info on these films, I quote from the PM Darren Hastings received (post #1649):

NBC owns the original Wiegman film but when producers of JFK: Death in Dealey Plaza asked them for it 12 years ago (at my request), NBC could only locate a 1960s-era video tape of it. We wound up using, I think, a 1963/1964 theatrical newsreel version held by UCLA.

NBC took the original Wiegman and Darnell films from the Dallas NBC affiliate to New York following the assassination weekend. Whether the network still has the original Darnell film is unknown, but as a former employee I know the affiliate does not have it or a copy. Nor does Jimmy Darnell.

Fortunately, a first-generation 16mm copy print was made in Dallas over that weekend and it is in the Museum’s collection; however, the Museum cannot do anything with it until copyright issues are resolved. It’ll happen, and sooner rather than later.

I contacted NBC 5 as well and Sharla Alford  assistant to the News Director/Custodian of Records got back to me promptly telling me that the University Of North Texas or the 6th Floor Museum has got all the JFK Assassination related film material from KXAS.

I replied and asked her if she could provide an inventory of the films, to which I got a reply from Brain Hocker, who is the VP of programming, research and digital media at NBC5.

He forwarded me to their online archive instead containing all the video screeners that were beamed across the nation that weekend and just after. Video, exactly the low resolution is not worth the bother, as the HD documentaries that have shown snippets of these films are in a larger resolution than what was offered to me. Furthermore the Darnell film was nowhere to be seen and the Weigman film was shown 3 times, and only once did it show the front of the TSBD.

I replied asking them (Brian Hocker at NBC5 and Megan Bryant at the 6th Floor Museum) several questions:

1/The film reels are clearly shown in the NBC5 news item, as shown above, just dormant in some boxes on a shelve in the basement at NBC5 archives, so where are they now?

2/Why are they not being digitised at ENT since everything else from that period of KXAS is?

3/Where are the original Darnell and Weigman films?

4/Can we get some high resolution still scans of the 1st gen. Darnell film that is at the 6th Floor Museum?

 

The ‘secrecy’ or better yet, the overall silence about this is deafening and looking at the video above with Gary Mack in the basement checking out the cardboard boxes holding these films one has to wonder how this stuff is being ‘treated’ for preservation.

As soon as I have the answers then so will you.