TV, film execs reassess scheduling, content
An altered skyline, a wounded psyche
(CNN) -- Three days after terrorists destroyed New York's World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon in Washington, the entertainment industry is still coming to terms with the new reality.
Thursday, CBS and ABC joined NBC in pushing back the premieres of their fall programming slate by at least a week.
Films and television shows featuring terrorists or bombings are being pulled, postponed or rethought. Security at Hollywood studios has been tightened.
And entertainment firms in New York, where much of the media world is headquartered, are still struggling with the disaster.
"Everyone has been jolted," Bonnie Timmermann, a veteran New York producer and casting director, told Daily Variety. "Things have to be put on hold until people get a grip on what's happening in the world today. I think the business will be affected by it emotionally, economically and physically."
Many New York entertainment events were cancelled or postponed. Members of the cable industry, in town for meetings beginning Tuesday, canceled all proceedings. The CMJ Music Marathon & Film Fest, which was to have started Thursday, was rescheduled to begin October 10. NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" canceled tapings for the week; CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" was already slated to be dark, the network said.
Broadway canceled all shows Tuesday and Wednesday. Shows reopened Thursday night, preceded by a dimming of marquee lights to honor attack victims. However, at least 10 off-Broadway productions in Greenwich Village remained shuttered due to restrictions on automobile and pedestrian traffic below 14th Street, according to Daily Variety, the only exception being "The Fantasticks," the world's longest-running musical.
Marketing campaigns get hard look
In Hollywood, movie executives juggled release dates of some movies and reconsidered others' marketing campaigns.
Disney's Touchstone Pictures postponed the release of the Tim Allen comedy "Big Trouble." One scene includes a bomb on a plane, though the movie's characters manage to avert disaster, studio spokeswoman Vivian Boyer told The Associated Press. The film, based on a Dave Barry novel, was originally scheduled to open September 21.
Similarly, Warner Bros. pushed back the planned October 5 release of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Collateral Damage," about a firefighter who loses his family when a Colombian terrorist bombs a Los Angeles skyscraper, out of "respect for the victims and their families," the studio said. Warner Bros. pulled all the film's marketing material and has not set a new date for the its release.
One film has suffered for a scene that doesn't even exist in the movie. The trailers for "Spider-Man," expected to be one of next summer's big releases, were pulled because of a scene that showed bank robbers being caught in a spider web between the center's twin towers. Some of the film's publicity materials, which show the towers reflected in Spider- Man's mask, were also pulled.
"The decision was an easy one," Geoffrey Ammer, Columbia TriStar's president of marketing, told Daily Variety. "It's based on humanity. No cost (of editing) can outweigh the sensitivity of the issue."
Sony Pictures, Columbia TriStar's parent, also said it would change the ending to the unfinished comedy "Men in Black 2," which involved a struggle with aliens near the World Trade Center.
On the music scene, Madonna and her Drowned World Tour returned to the stage Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and the pop quintet Backstreet Boys were expected to play a second night in Toronto, Ontario, following an appearance there Wednesday.
TV shows' content scrutinized
Television shows were also affected by the attack.
Pilots to two new shows, CBS' "The Agency" and Fox's "24," include plots involving terrorists. The former has been shelved for the short term and CBS will substitute a different episode for the show's debut.
The pilot of "24" is trickier, since each episode represents an hour in a 24-hour day in which there has been a terrorist group's death threat on a political candidate. Moreover, the pilot features the explosion of a jumbo jet. Since the show isn't scheduled to premiere until late October, Fox is taking a wait-and-see approach.
"The storyline is not at all related to the events going on right now," a Fox source told Daily Variety. "But we'll keep our fingers on the pulse of the country to see where we are a month from now."
Skyline shots of New York are being edited from other shows, including "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which features the twin towers in its opening credits.
Television viewers can expect some change in their viewing grids for the next few days. For now, the major broadcast networks have stuck with around-the-clock coverage, though that's expected to change by the weekend.
Nevertheless, two movies scheduled for the weekend have been dropped. ABC was planning to show the George Clooney-Nicole Kidman film "The Peacemaker," about nuclear terrorists, on Saturday, but will replace it with comedic and upbeat offerings, the network said.
Fox will do the same with Friday's telecast of "The X-Files" and Sunday's showing of the movie "Independence Day." In the latter, two of the most famous scenes feature the destruction of the Empire State Building and the White House.
The Emmys have been pushed back at least a week from its original September 16 airdate, and the broadcast networks have postponed their premiere weeks of new and returning shows to September 24.
This weekend's NFL games have been canceled in light of the tragedy.
Despite many entertainment firms reopening Thursday, work may never return to normal. A giant piece of the New York skyline, a silent but visible part of movies and television shows from "Manhattan" to "Law & Order" to "Friends" to the Miramax Films logo, is gone, and with it the lives of thousands of people. How an industry, a city, or a country recovers from that wound is a question that will remain unanswered for a while.
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