CBS is airing a two-hour prime time special on the World Trade Center attack
as seen through the eyes of two French film makers who happened to be shooting a
documentary of a New York Fire Department company Sept. 11.
They captured the only known footage of the first plane to strike the World
Trade Center. Shots of that hit have been widely distributed, although the
filmmakers shot hours of footage, including 45 minutes inside the North Tower as
the rescue effort was under way before the building collapsed.
The filmmakers shot more than 100 hours of film for the program. Most of it
has not been aired.
The special will air March 10, on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the
'Much has been said about the heroism of our men and women in uniform on
Sept. 11, and this moving and important film brings that courage to life,' CBS
president Leslie Moonves said.
'It is not an exaggeration to say that nothing quite like it has ever been
broadcast before,' he added.
Interestingly, the special is not being labeled as a CBS News presentation,
although several top CBS News producers are involved with the project, including
Susan Zirinsky, who will serve as one of at least six executive producers.
CBS News senior vice president Betsy West will serve as executive in
The filmmakers, brothers Gedeon and Jules Naudet, will also serve as
executive producers, as will James Hanlon, a firefighter with Ladder 1, the unit
the Naudets were documenting.
The project was brought to CBS by Vanity Fair magazine editor Graydon
Carter, by way of the William Morris Agency. The magazine has a big feature
story on the Naudets in its March issue, which is scheduled to hit the
newsstands Feb. 6.
There are numerous reasons why the documentary isn't coming out of the news
division, sources involved said.
First and foremost, said Morris' Ben Silverman, who helped to put the deal
together, 'It's not a CBS News film, it's the Naudets'.'
Second, there is a fund-raising element to the documentary that is strictly
against CBS News guidelines.
Added a CBS spokesman: 'We're really putting the full resources of the entire
network behind this project.'
Carter is also an executive editor on the CBS special.
Still to be decided is whether the special will have commercials -- the CBS
sales department is now putting out feelers to potential sponsors, a spokesman
Also to be determined is whether or not the program will have a host and who
that host would be.