An Unhappy Anniversary; 
TV struggles to find the right approach to revisiting Sept. 11



NBC plans a prime-time concert to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks while its two chief rivals are sticking with news coverage that night.

But CBS "60 Minutes II" correspondent Scott Pelley landed a big exclusive when President George W. Bush agreed to an interview about the aftermath of the attacks.

The interview will be shown during the network's Sept. 11 prime-time coverage, and the White House says it's the only interview the president is giving to mark the anniversary.

First lady Laura Bush will be on NBC's "Concert for America" at the Kennedy Center in Washington. She said she hopes it "will allow us to use the arts to soothe our emotions." Over the past few months, television network executives have been struggling with the issue of what tone to set with their Sept. 11 coverage and how extensive it should be, trying to anticipate the public's desire to reflect.

"My own strong impression is there has been a drifting away emotionally and intellectually" from the events of last Sept. 11, NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw said.

NBC hopes, with its news coverage, to remind people of what the country went through and tell what's been learned since then, he said.

ABC, CBS and NBC will all air expanded editions of their morning news shows that morning to cover planned commemorations. Many of those are timed to coincide with what happened exactly a year ago that day; the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:48 a.m.

From there, the network plans diverge. ABC News plans continuous coverage through prime-time, with breaks for local news.

NBC will also show news that afternoon, including a town meeting-format interview featuring Brokaw and rescue workers, survivors and family members.

CBS hasn't set its afternoon plans, in part because it's still trying to gauge the level of interest among the public and its affiliates.

The network will turn its prime-time schedule over to its newsmagazines, "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II," for Sept. 11-related programming.

CBS will also rerun its two-hour "9-11" documentary featuring footage from inside the World Trade Center.

Fox will air a two-hour prime-time special, "The Day America Changed," on Sept. 11.

ABC's prime-time news coverage will feature a minute-by-minute reconstruction of events within the World Trade Center that morning, the network said.

Brokaw said NBC was approached by the Kennedy Center about a concert, and the network thought the music would be "an important and necessary ingredient" to the coverage. He noted that the Concert for New York helped to elevate the public mood last fall.

Except for the National Symphony Orchestra, NBC hasn't announced the musicians that will participate, although Gloria Estefan and country singer Alan Jackson reportedly will be there

 

 


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