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ABC To Edit The Path to 9-11 - Broadcasting & Cable

ABC To Edit The Path to 9-11

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ABC will make only minor cosmetic changes to its controversial 9-11 series despite vigorous protests from onetime officials of Bill Clinton’s administration, including the former president himself.

Clinton warned the network in a letter penned by the head of his foundation to Disney President-CEO Bob Iger that ABC should pull the broadcast unless it corrected various alleged inaccuracies, according to a report in the New York Post.

Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was also said to be particularly unhappy with a scene portraying him as failing to order an attack on Osama Bin Laden.

In a statement Thursday, ABC said the film had fictionalized scenes and composites. Moreover, that it hadn't even finished editing it yet, suggesting to some that if such scenes were in the original, they might be removed from the final product.

But network insiders told B&C that the five-hour portrayal, The Path to 9/11, airing commercial-free Sunday and Monday to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, will not include any substantial edit changes.

It is known that ABC made some minor editorial changes to 9/11 earlier in the week and more will come prior to the airdates. The insiders were unable to specify just what was being altered, however. 

The film had been delivered to the network “wet,” a common industry term used when programming arrives late in the process and needs to be edited at the last minute.

"The attacks of 9/11 were a pivotal moment in our history," said ABC in its statement, "and it is fitting that the debate about the events related to the attacks continue.  However, we hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it.”

ABC asserted in the statement that the program is more of a “docu-drama” than straight documentary, since it was produced by the entertainment division rather than ABC News

The Path to 9/11 is not a documentary of the events leading to 9/11. It is a dramatization, drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report, other published materials and personal interviews.

"As such, for dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, and time compression. No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing process is not yet complete, so criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible."

Clinton and his former officials reportedly slammed the series based on what they had heard would be in the program, which was released to television critics in July during the summer press tour. Additionally, ABC has made it available to various political audiences.

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