CBS 9/11 special will revisit Ground Zero with Robert De Niro
CBS is adding a new entry to the list of Sept. 11 retrospectives, announcing a program that will bookend a special it ran shortly after the initial event. "9/11: 10 Years Later" will focus on the changes to Ground Zero as well as to the lives of the firefighters involved in the rescue mission there. The special is a follow-up from Jules and Gedeon Naudet and James Hanlon to their March 2002 program "9/11," their eyewitness account of Ground Zero during the terrorist attacks that won a Peabody and an Emmy.
Downtown New Yorker Robert De Niro will host the program from inside Ground Zero, as he did the original; the follow-up will also include new interviews with many of the firefighters featured in the first film. The program will debut on September 11, 2011, at 8 p.m.
In 2001, the Naudets and Hanlon had been making a documentary about New York firefighters when the planes struck the World Trade Center; they then followed firefighters into the site and captured rare footage there, including 75 minutes from inside the North Tower before it collapsed. An update had aired, with new interviews, on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.
The new "9/11" special joins "Rebirth," a documentary from Jim Whitaker, on CBS sister network Showtime, as well as a Smithsonian special that will feature the likes of Rudolph Giuliani and Dick Cheney.
The level of appetite for retrospectives, however, remains an open question. So far, none of the programs has generated the interest -- or controversy -- that "The Path to 9/11," ABC's look at the events that led up to 9/11 that ran on the five-year anniversary of the catastrophe, did. The day of the 10th anniversary will also, perhaps incongruously, be one for a different kind of viewing: It marks the first full slate of games for the 2011 NFL season.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Robert De Niro in "9/11." Credit: JP Filo / CBS