9/11 doc draws auds to History net

'American Icon' brings in more than 2.5 million viewers

NEW YORK — Programming a Sept. 11 anniversary slate is a delicate business, and for the History Channel, it’s been a bittersweet success.

Net began its sked early — on Sept. 2 — with “The World Trade Center: Rise and Fall of an American Icon.” Special brought in more than 2.5 million viewers, making it the net’s highest-rated program this year and third best ever.

“We were very hopeful that our viewers would respond to the type of programming we executed for 9/11,” said Abbe Raven, net’s general manager and exec VP. “This show was so successful because it looked at the history and not just destruction — and people really wanted to understand that. We feel very validated that the response was so positive.”

Special focus on BET

And with less than a week to go, BET, Oxygen and Gotham stations WPIX and Univision 41 have also announced their Sept. 11 special programming.

BET programming will begin Sept. 7 and address the tragedy from an African-American perspective under the banner “Telling Our Stories.” Sked highlights include an assessment of homeland security, a celebration of the day’s victims and round table discussions with teenagers about the tragedy.

On Sept. 11, net will start day at 8:30 a.m. with news and personal commentary from BET employees. At 8:46, net will observe the national moment of silence.

Short on Breslin column

Oxygen will air a pair of commercial-free shorts on Sept. 11. Doc “Women of Rockaway” looks at how the widows of a Queens community coped in the aftermath of the attack. Based on a column by Jimmy Breslin, “A Smile Gone, But Where?” is about his search for a woman he saw on the street every day until Sept. 11. Breslin stars in the eight-minute short along with Karen Duffy. Both titles were exec produced by Rosemary Breslin.

Beginning this week, Univision’s WXTV will broadcast tributes to the Hispanic victims of the attacks. On Sept. 11, station’s programming will include musical tributes, encouraging messages from community leaders and short pieces featuring the observations of children.

Tribune station WPIX will broadcast local coverage of the anniversary, beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 11. Marathon coverage runs until noon — when special editions of “Maury Povich” and “Inside Edition” will air — before continuing again at 8 p.m.

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