Gotham tragedy claims TV veterans

Industryites were among the 266 people killed aboard the four commercial planes that were hijacked and crashed in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Attorney and news commentator Barbara Olson, 45, was aboard the American Airlines Flight 77 en route from Washington Dulles Intl. Airport to Los Angeles that crashed into the Pentagon.

Olson placed two phone calls from the plane to her husband, solicitor general Ted Olson, telling him that hijackers armed with knives and cardboard cutters herded passengers and crew — including the pilot — toward the back of the plane.

“What should I tell the pilots to do?” CNN reported she asked her husband.

Olson, who reportedly called the command center at the Justice Dept. to relay the information, told CNN that his wife planned to fly Monday, but delayed her travel because she wanted to be with him the morning of his birthday, which was Tuesday.

“She was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon,” her husband said. “She called from the plane while it was being hijacked. I wish it wasn’t so but it is.”

Barbara Olson was a former federal prosecutor and served as chief investigative counsel to the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, where she investigated the Clinton Administration “Travelgate” scandal.

As legal analyst and commentator, she has appeared on CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC and MSNBC.

‘Frasier’ exec mourned

Writer-producer David Angell, 54, who co-created “Frasier” and “Wings” with partners Peter Casey and David Lee, was a passenger, along with wife Lynn, on American Airlines Flight 11 — the L.A.-bound American Airlines flight that departed Boston and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Angell joined “Cheers” in 1983 as a staff writer; he’d been with Paramount Network Television ever since. Angell hooked up with Casey and Lee in 1985 and the trio became supervising producers on the hit laffer. He won six Emmys.

Angell, Casey and Lee then formed Grub Street Prods., which created “Wings,” the NBC comedy that spent seven years on the net. After “Cheers” ended its run in 1993, the trio were tapped to create and exec produce “Frasier.”

Grub Street disbanded in the late ’90s after Lee opted to focus on theater; Angell and Casey had been working on new projects together.

Casey and Lee were stunned by Tuesday’s news.

“David Angell was not only our partner but also our friend for the past 16 years,” they said. “He was a kind and gentle man with a quiet exterior that masked one of the sharpest comedy minds ever to write for television. We join their family and other friends in mourning their passing.”

Akamai co-founder dies

Daniel C. Lewin, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Internet content delivery and streaming media company Akamai Technologies, was also on board American Airlines Flight 11.

Lewin founded Akamai in September 1998 with Tom Leighton and a group of MIT scientists and business professionals. As chief technical officer, Lewin oversaw Akamai’s research and development strategy.

“Danny was a wonderful human being,” said George Conrades, chairman and CEO of the Cambridge, Mass.-based venture. “He will be deeply missed by his many friends at Akamai. Our thoughts and prayers are with Danny’s family, friends and colleagues during this time of national tragedy and personal loss.”

Lewin, 31, is survived by his wife and two sons.

Actress perishes

Actress and photographer Berry Berenson, 53, was on Flight 11 returning home to Los Angeles from a Cape Cod vacation. Berenson was the sister of actress Marisa Berenson and was married to Anthony Perkins from 1973 until his death in 1992. They had two sons, one of whom, Oz Perkins, is also an actor who recently appeared in the MGM summer hit “Legally Blonde.”

Berenson appeared in the feature films “Cat People,” “Winter Kills” and “Remember My Name” and the miniseries “Scruples.”

“She was one of the loveliest, greatest people on the Earth, full of life,” Berenson’s spokeswoman, Susan Patricola said.

Also on board one of the flights were Jeff Mladenik and Andrew Curry-Green, both of whom worked for Variety’s parent company, Cahners. Mladenik was vice president of market development for the Electronics Division and interim CEO of eLogic; Curry-Green was director of business development for eLogic. Both were traveling on the Boston-to-Los Angeles American Airlines flight involved in the tragedy.

(Michael Schneider, Marc Graser, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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