9/11 on TV: a comprehensive guide to the best 10th-anniversary specials
'Children of 9/11,' among the best, represents the wide variety
September 4, 2011 4:00 AM
Brothers Peter and Tommy Langone, 9/11 first responders, both died at the World Trade Center. This photo is from "Children of 9/11," which will air on NBC at 10 p.m. Monday.
By Maria Sciullo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tommy Langone was a New York City police officer and volunteer firefighter who died on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. His daughter, Caitlin, was 12 at the time.
There is a point in the documentary "Children of 9/11" where she says, "I would give anything in the world just to give my dad a hug again," and it's clear that the span of 10 years cannot truly diminish her pain.
Monday's presentation represents the wide variety of this week's programming across various platforms on almost every major network. Focusing on the children gives the horrors of 9/11 a more human face; many other programs concentrate on the progress made in rebuilding the World Trade Center and its new memorials, including Discovery and Science Channels' "Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero" and Fox's "FOX News Reporting Freedom Rising With Shepard Smith."
More than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11, and NBC's presentation of "Children of 9/11" at 10 p.m. catches up with 11 of them.
Some were older, like Caitlin, a few were born just days before or after their fathers died. Rodney Ratchford, whose mother died at the Pentagon, was 11 at the time, got angry at the world and spiralled downward into drugs. But he has rebuilt his life.
Tom Burnett died on one of the airplanes. "We stopped dancing before bed -- we stopped everything," recalls one of his daughters. Home video shows Mr. Burnett surrounded by three little girls, gleefully jumping around the room.
Mohammad Chowdhury, a Muslim, was killed while working at the World Trade Center. His young family eventually moved out of the state in search of calm.
Produced and directed by Janice Sutherland, "Children" is at times heartbreaking, but the overall message is that children are resilient, if not always able to understand the reasons for the awful things that can happen.
"I hope the documentary allows people to remember and understand that there were real people affected and are continued to be affected," Caitlin Langone said recently. Her uncle, a firefighter, also died in the attacks. "But you don't have to coddle us ... you don't have to treat us with kid gloves.
"You know, you don't have to feel awkward about it or anything. Just if we want to talk, just listen. Like, that's what we need."
The Discovery and Science Channels' program is Part 1 of a six-hour special that made its premiere last week but will encore over the next few days. We've all seen and heard about the plans to create a "new" World Trade Center, but attention to detail and focus on the people -- from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the guys riveting girders -- makes this an inspiring show.
With Steven Spielberg among the executive producers, that's no surprise. There is a scene in the first episode, which looks at the design and creation of the National 9/11 Museum, where a crushed Ladder 3 firetruck nicknamed "Big Red" is lowered into the below-ground museum space. Complete with firemen honor guard and bagpipers in the background, it's a moving event.
Earlier, the collection of some of the museum's oral histories and artifacts are shown, including the story of Abe Zelmanowitz. His brother, Jack, presented Abe's cracked and bent photo ID to the museum and explained that Abe refused to leave behind a friend and co-worker who was in a wheelchair. Both died when the Towers collapsed.
Artifacts manager Mark Wagner points out a scarred bicycle rack: "All these guys did was come to work that day; I don't know if they survived or perished."
The six-hour series airs Sept. 11 beginning at 5 p.m.
"Fox News Reporting Freedom Rising" is partly about history, partly about real estate, partly a political analysis. Host Shepard Smith notes that "America is about creation," setting up the background on the original World Trade Center.
Who knew that an artists' colony had been set up in an adjacent building of the WTC, where painters are documenting the rebirth of Building No. 1, a.k.a. "The Freedom Tower"?
The program checks in on their recording "vision of freedom rising," and it also features behind-the-scenes glimpses of the folks who are creating this new symbol of America. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's soaring, cathedral-like plans for the new Port Authority hub, for example, is as impressive inside as out.
There will be many hours of many programs showing details for the new WTC in the coming weeks, but one of the most poignant facts is noted here: the names of the dead will be memorialized at the foot of the 1,776-foot tower in a list arranged by "meaningful adjacency."
Friends and co-workers will have their names grouped together. The passengers on the two flights that hit the Towers will be together. First responders will be remembered by units.
It airs tonight at 9 and will be rebroadcast next Saturday and Sunday.
Given the overwhelming amount of 9/11 programming in the next week, not every listing could be included. But here is a good sampling.
Coverage begins Friday across various CBS News platforms, with "The Early Show" and "CBS Evening News" broadcasting from Ground Zero and content on CBS Radio News, CBSNews.com, CBS Newspath and CBS News' polling and survey unit.
"The Early Show on Saturday" also broadcasts from Ground Zero.
Six hours of coverage on Sept. 11 begins with an 8 a.m. CBS News special, "America Remembers," anchored by Scott Pelley. Other programming includes "Face the Nation," and "60 Minutes."
That night, a special "60 Minutes" will be followed by "9/11: 10 Years Later" (see story, Page E-3), an update to a critically acclaimed documentary originally broadcast on CBS less than a year after the attacks.
CBS's coverage beyond television will include a live webcast of Sept. 11 events, a five-part CBS Radio News series, "Justice In a Time of Terror," and a long-form weekend roundup, "9/11: America Remembers."
The network also provides conversation through Twitter (@CBSNewsPress) and Facebook.
A three-hour morning special next Sunday, "America Remembers," will include coverage of the official memorial ceremonies at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, with Brian Williams, David Gregory and Lester Holt anchoring from the respective sites.
In addition, the network revisits the original 2001 broadcast of the attacks. "America Remembers" will be streamed live at msnbc.com.
On Monday, the network begins incorporating 9/11 coverage into its daily news programs.
Matt Lauer will give a tour of the new 1 World Trade Center on "Today" Friday, and that night, special correspondent Tom Brokaw, who spent more than 100 hours at the anchor desk in the week following the attack, will present a special two-hour "Dateline."
NBC's news team will be asking viewers "Where were you?" that day on Twitter (@NBCNews), and the results can be tracked by the hash tag #wherewereyou.
On MSNBC, "Day of Destruction -- Decade of War" is an encore showing of a new documentary hosted by NBC News chief correspondent Richard Engel and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. It debuted last week but will re-air on three consecutive nights beginning Friday.
"On Native Soil," the story of the 9/11 Commission's report, premieres Saturday with a repeat the following night. MSNBC plans to simulcast NBC special programming from 8-11 a.m. on Sunday.
Sunday night, MSNBC presents "9/11: In Our Own Words," a documentary from the perspective of the network newspeople working that day.
On CNBC, coverage includes a week-long "Business Day" inclusion of 9/11 segments focusing on the financial impact of the events. Other coverage includes a special edition of "American Greed" that examines the illegal lengths some people go to to cash in on national tragedy.
The case of McKeesport's Thomas Cousar, sole owner of Capco Contracting, is featured on "American Greed." Hired to work on the Pentagon re-construction, he pleaded guilty in February 2008 of billing hours not expended, and for charging materials to the Pentagon project that were used on other projects.
The show premieres Wednesday.
"The Suze Orman Show" discusses money lessons learned from 9/11; it airs Saturday. At CNBC.com, a series of articles and slide shows help take an in-depth look at both the economic and human consequences of 9/11 in the Financial District.
USA Network has two films, "The Space Between" and "Twin Towers," airing next Sunday; the former, starring Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, will be reviewed by Post-Gazette television writer Rob Owen in Friday's Post-Gazette.
At USA's "charactersunite.com" mini-website, viewers can learn more about resources to address key issues from the films on prejudice, religious intolerance and bullying.
"Access Hollywood's" coverage includes interviews with, of course, celebrities as they reflect on 9/11.
Telemundo's Jose Diaz Balart will broadcast a live show from Ground Zero next Sunday morning.
Ten years ago, iVillage.com was a relative rarity -- an online community that allowed people to come together locally and across the world. As part of the anniversary coverage, the website will for the first time since they were originally submitted, make forum posts available from Sept. 11, 2001.
Focus begins Monday across all platforms with segments on "World News With Diane Sawyer," "Good Morning America," "Nightline" and "20/20." The three-hour "9/11: America Remembers Ten Years Later -- A Special Edition of Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopolous airs next Sunday. Others involved in the show include Katie Couric, who has come full circle: she was an NBC "Today" anchor in 2001, moved to CBS News and now joins ABC's crew.
Other ABC News live coverage this week includes "20/20" anchor Chris Cuomo at the WTC, senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz at the Pentagon and "GMA" anchor Josh Elliott in Somerset County.
Also next Sunday, senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper will be covering President Barack Obama's visits to each of the three sites. That night, a special-edition "20/20" called "Remembrance and Renewal" airs.
In addition, ABCNews.com will carry live streaming of its broadcast news coverage and ABC News Digital, in partnership with Yahoo! News, is producing original online videos.
ABC News Radio will go live for next Sunday's 9/11 memorials at 8:06 a.m. while ABC NewsOne, the network affiliate news service, presents former WTAE reporter T.J. Winick at Ground Zero.
PBS will make available full-length streaming video of selected specials the day after they air at pbs.org, starting with "The Man Who Knew," (premiered Aug. 30), which tells the story of former FBI agent John O'Neill, who became head of security at the World Trade Center.
This "Frontline" special focuses on Mr. O'Neill, who died in the attacks, and how much the FBI possibly knew beforehand. It can be watched at www.pbs.org.
Two other "Frontline" programs are slated to run on television and online: "Top Secret America," Tuesday, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dana Priest taking a look at how a decade of fighting terrorism has reshaped the country, and "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero" Wednesday, an examination of religious faith.
Wednesday's "Nova" presents "Engineering Ground Zero," a behind-the-scenes look at the five-year project to design and build the "new" WTC.
An encore performance of "Objects and Memory," which examines the importance of artifacts recovered from the sites of tragedy, airs Sept. 11 at 4 p.m.
Also that day is a special one-hour broadcast of "Newshour," and on "Great Performances," the New York Philharmonic presents an anniversary concert.
PBS's other weekly programming will center on the 10th anniversary coverage, including "Tavis Smiley" and "Washington Week With Gwen Ifill and National Journal."
Locally, WQED Multimedia's Michael Bartley produces and hosts "Return to Shanksville," which follows efforts to create the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County. It debuts Thursday and features the development of the national memorial, as well as interviews with first responders and members of some of the Flight 93 families.
Pennsylvania Cable Network will be live in Somerset County for the Flight 93 Memorial dedication beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. For more scheduling information, go to pcntv.com.
Four original documentaries begin with "CNN Presents: FOOTNOTES of 9/11," a behind-the-scenes look at the ordinary people who went to work that day. It debuts Tuesday with an encore next Sunday night.
"Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Terror in the Dust" highlights the health issues of first responders who breathed in a noxious combination of dust and debris and are dealing with the lingering effects. It airs Wednesday with a repeat Saturday.
"Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11" profiles some of the female rescue workers at the Twin Towers that day. It premieres Monday and will encore next Sunday night.
Time Warner, in association with HBO, presents "Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience" on CNN Friday with two replays the next day. "Beyond 9/11" follows the stories of 40 men and women who worked and sacrificed that day.
Besides "Freedom Rising With Shepard Smith," another of the network's big offerings is "FOX News Reporting: 9/11: Timeline of Terror."
This one-hour special will reconstruct that day in "real time," beginning with President George W. Bush's morning jog in Florida. Interviews with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Vice President Dick Cheney are featured. Both shows have premiered but will encore today from 9-11 p.m. and in the same time slot Saturday and next Sunday.
"102 Minutes That Changed The World" will be the centerpiece of more than 20 hours of programming. "102 Minutes" will be simulcast next Sunday starting at 8:46 a.m. across all A&E networks and to more than 150 countries.
Coverage begins with "9/11: The Days After" Saturday and "Voices From Inside the Towers" Friday. Another documentary, "Making the 9/11 Memorial" premieres Sunday. These shows are presented commercial-free.
A new documentary, "Targeting bin Laden," is set to debut Tuesday.
Other features include a webcast of the Saturday dedication of the Flight 93 memorial live on History.com/Classroom, and partnerships with various museums and educational trust organizations to share video and materials.
A&E and BIO Channel
Four commercial-free documentary specials are planned, beginning with "When Pop Culture Saved America" Monday, "I Survived ... 9/11" Wednesday and "Beyond: Messages From 9/11" Thursday on BIO, as well as "Portraits From Ground Zero" Saturday on A&E.
National Geographic Channel
Two specials highlight the channel's coverage: "George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview" and "The Liquid Bomb Plot."
The former speaks for itself and is billed as an intimate view on the former president's memories of the day. "Liquid Bomb Plot" is a behind-the-scenes look at the planning of the attacks.
Both had their premieres but are part of a day-long marathon next Sunday. It begins with "CIA Confidential: 9/11 Mastermind" at noon and ends with "Inside 9:11: The War Continues" at 9 p.m.
Chris Noth narrates "9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor," which premieres tonight. It focuses on two men in the North tower, construction manager Frank DeMartini and construction inspector Pablo Ortiz, both of whom worked for the Port Authority.
Martin Sheen narrates "9/11: Day That Changed the World," a two-hour special that follows events from dawn to midnight. Debuting Monday, it includes interviews with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Rudy Giuliani.
The program also will be available at SmithsonianChannel.com, through the channel's iPhone and Android apps, and is free on iTunes.
Also premiering Monday is "9/11: Stories in Fragment," a one-hour special that examines the National Museum of History's Sept. 11 collections.
Oprah Winfrey Network will commemorate the anniversary with "Twins of the Twin Towers" and "From the Ground Up," playing back-to-back next Sunday night.
The former takes an unusual slant: on 9/11 more than 40 twins worldwide lost their twins. Produced by BBC Wales, the program delves into the connection shared by twins and how they move forward after such loss.
"From the Ground Up" is the story of five widows whose husbands were firefighters and their journey together over the past 10 years.
A new four-episode series, "Angels Among Us," premieres Thursday on Country Music Television. The first one-hour episode focuses on three survivors of the 9/11 attacks, and the spiritual presence they reported feeling as they struggled to escape.
Turner Classic Movies asked first responders to help select four classic American films for next Sunday's programming. Patrick McNally and his wife, Liz, were to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on 9/11 when he was called to help at the WTC site. Because "As Time Goes By" was "their" song, he naturally chose "Casablanca." He also picked "Mister Roberts," a character who is a leader "who always thinks about what he has to do for his men."
Vernon Webb was a member of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, working nearby when the plane hit. He worked round-the-clock for several days investigating the crime scene and later became the first African-American to hold the title of criminal investigator in Defensive Protective Service.
His choices are "All the Young Men," a movie that helped inspire him to join the military, and "Red River," because John Wayne's character becomes a better man by learning the value of compassion.
An hour-long special, "9/11: Ten Years Later," takes a different slant on how the world has changed. Besides offering a look back at the events of that day, the special will examine the impact they had on the world of movies, entertainment and pop culture.
The stories behind the "Concert for New York" and the creation of the Tribeca Film Festival are included. The special premieres Friday with encores throughout the weekend.
A one-hour special, "ID Investigates: 9/11 Crime Scene Investigations," premieres tonight and profiles the NYPD's Crime Scene Unit in its search for survivors and evidence in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Filmmaker Ed Burns hosts the re-broadcast of "The Concert for New York City," a six-hour benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. Held in October 2001, the filmed concert will run in its entirety from 4-10 p.m. next Sunday.
"The Concert for New York City: Ten Years Later" will be broadcast commercial-free. And 10 years later, many of those who participated that day are still performing: Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger, The Who and Elton John.
National Public Radio will provide live coverage from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. next Sunday, with reports, reflections and live anniversary coverage. Beginning Monday, all NPR news programming and reports will include content related to 9/11. Beyond the local and national public radio station broadcasts, NPR.org will provide additional features and details can be found at the "This is NPR" blog.
"Under Suspicion," an investigation from NPR News and Center for Investigative Reporting, airs Wednesday and Thursday on "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition" and at NPR.org.
Also available Friday at NPR.org is a video from NPR photojournalist David Gilkey that profiles injured soldiers who joined the military in the wake of 9/11.
A live webcast of an anniversary concert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature the world premiere of an orchestration of William Basinski's "The Disintegration Loops."
Al Jazeera English
Pittsburgh doesn't receive the television version of Al Jazeera's English-language news broadcasts, but its worldview coverage is available at English.Aljazeera.net. A three-part series, "The 9/11 Decade," premiered last week, and the first episode, "The Intelligence War," is online now.
Part 2, "The Image War," begins Tuesday, with "Clash of Civilizations" Sept. 13.
"Too Soon?: A Cartoon Retrospective of 9/11" presents a special event Friday at the ToonSeum, Downtown.
The exhibition will run from Sept. 10-25, with an exhibit preview Friday from 5-7 p.m. Nationally syndicated artists, including Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, have contributed works reflecting on the national theme of 9/11.
The panel discussion "Too Soon?: Humor, Art and Media in a Post-9/11 World" begins at 7 p.m. at the nearby Bricolage Theater (toonseum.org).
Next Sunday, newspapers around the country will acknowledge the anniversary on the comics pages. The strips will be available at cartoonistsremember911.com and at select museums around the country, including Pittsburgh's ToonSeum.