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9.11

Tune in for almost endless TV specials and tributes, as the towers fall again and again and again.

By ERIC DEGGANS, Times TV Critic

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 8, 2002


Tune in for almost endless TV specials and tributes, as the towers fall again and again and again.

It may not seem possible, but the volume of television programming planned this week to commemorate the terrorist attacks will likely rival the deluge that filled TV screens one year ago.

Nearly every broadcast and cable channel with a news division or documentary unit is weighing in. In all, there will be more than 300 hours of specials, documentaries, concert tributes and memorial coverage.

Most outlets will avoid commercials during memorial services in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, scheduled between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday.

But no matter how much restraint broadcasters attempt, the sheer volume of programs means viewers likely will see images of the twin towers crumbling again and again.

NBC's coverage begins Tuesday with a 90-minute edition of Dateline NBC and continues Wednesday with a six-hour version of the Today show, a three-hour town meeting hosted by anchor Tom Brokaw at 1 p.m., an hourlong NBC Nightly News and a two-hour Concert for America (to be taped Monday) airing at 9 p.m.

CBS snagged the interview "get" of the evening, taping an interview with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office and Air Force One to air during an 8 p.m installment of 60 Minutes II Wednesday (a two-hour edition of parent show 60 Minutes also focuses on 9/11 at 7 tonight). The network's Early Show offers a five-hour edition at 7 a.m. Wednesday, an hourlong CBS Evening News at 6:30 p.m. and a rebroadcast of the documentary 9/11 at 9 p.m.

ABC's Peter Jennings has his own town hall discussion planned, as a new edition of his Answering Children's Questions special airing on Wednesday. The alphabet network's coverage kicks in at 9 p.m. Tuesday, with the two-hour film Report From Ground Zero, featuring the recollections of firefighters and based on the book by bestselling author Dennis Smith. Expect daylong coverage Wednesday from Good Morning America to World News Tonight, with a break at 5 p.m. for local news and a special edition of Nightline at 11:35 p.m.

Fox likely will offer network news broadcasts from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, along with a two-hour commercial-free special, 9/11 -- The Day America Changed at 8 p.m. On Tuesday at 10 p.m., PBS presents America Rebuilds, a documentary on efforts to reconstruct the World Trade Center site.

Also at 8 p.m. Wednesday, PBS will rebroadcast its Frontline documentary, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, followed by A Requiem for September, a performance of Verdi's Requiem by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and soloists from Rider University's Westminster Symphonic Choir.

All cable news channels have daylong stretches of coverage planned Wednesday, with Fox News reconstructing the attacks and examining the hunt for Osama bin Laden. CNN likely will emphasize its hard-news roots in stories from the United States, Afghanistan and elsewhere. MSNBC plans to continue its regular prime-time lineup of shows, with Donahue, Hardball with Chris Matthews and Ashleigh Banfield: On Location all expected to reflect 9/11 themes.

Elsewhere on cable: Showtime at 8 p.m. Monday presents Reflections From Ground Zero, nine short films by New York University students, hosted by Spike Lee. MTV on Tuesday begins 31 hours of coverage with inspirational music videos and discussions with musicians and viewers about terrorist attacks.

Discovery Networks (TLC, Travel Channel, Discovery Health) goes commercial-free Wednesday with shows including Discovery Channel's 8 p.m. telecast of Portraits of Grief, victim profiles based on the long-running New York Times series.

HBO at 8 p.m. Wednesday will rebroadcast its documentary In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01. Sundance Channel at 8 p.m. Wednesday presents 9 Views 9/11, nine short films by New York-area filmmakers.

-- Material from Times wires was used in this report.

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