Reporters get 9/11 sneak peek

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CBS screened its powerful yet surprisingly nongraphic (in terms of visual
mayhem) documentary, 9/11, for reporters Monday night.

The special is set to air Sunday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

It will air no traditional commercials, but it will have three breaks,
underwritten by Nextel Communications Inc., that will contain public-service
announcements relating to the Sept. 11 tragedy, including fund-raising
pitches.

The two-hour film will contain seven minutes and 30 seconds of PSA time,
although specifics are still being worked out, network officials said.

The film, by French brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, started out as a
documentary about the rite of passage of one rookie New York firefighter
stationed just blocks away from the World Trade Center.

By chance, Jules Naudet happened to be on the street on a routine
gas-leak-inspection filming when the first plane hit the North Tower. Naudet is
believed to have captured the only known footage of that first plane's
impact.

Jules Naudet then spent the next hour inside the lobby of the North Tower
filming events as they unfolded.

In a question-and-answer session after the screening, Naudet said he saw
bodies in flames on the ground as he entered the Tower, but he made a decision
not to film them, nor any of the other graphic scenes of horror he saw that
day.

'It was a decision I made on the spot that these were images that people
would not want to see,' he said.

What can be heard clearly in the film are the bodies of victims crashing to
the ground after leaping from the Tower.

Firefighters also discuss the horrific scenes they witnessed. The language in
the film is raw -- lots of firefighters using the F-word and variations thereof
(motherf----- being one example).

'The language is rough, but so were the circumstances,' said Susan Zirinsky,
the 48 Hours executive producer who oversaw production of the special.
The film she said is a 'living historical document.'

Robert De Niro, who serves as the film's host, warns viewers about the
language.

After the South Tower collapsed, Naudet and all of the firefighters in the
North Tower were ordered to evacuate. He believes he got out with six to eight
minutes to spare.

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