Goldie Hawn’s Cosmic Entertainment has pacted with basic-cable network FX to develop an original movie about the passengers of United Flight 93, the hijacked jetliner that crashed in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11.
Like fellow femme stars Barbra Streisand (“Mame,” “Varian’s War”) and Oprah Winfrey (ABC’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents” series), Hawn is establishing herself as a major telepic voice. The FX project is the second recent torn-from-the-headlines undertaking for Hawn, also an exec producer of NBC’s “The Matthew Shepherd Story.”
FX and Cosmic — whose principles include Hawn, Kurt Russell and Hawn’s children Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson — have optioned an article from Vanity Fair’s December issue to serve as the basis of the project, to be exec produced by Cosmic head Jay Cohen and Cosmic TV head Shanna Tyndall. Steven Tolkin, who most recently wrote Showtime’s “Fidel,” is set to write the pic.
CAA, which reps Burroughs, facilitated the option. FX VP of development and production Gerard Bocaccio also was integral to putting the project together.
In five vignettes, the Bryan Burroughs-penned VF piece “Manifest Courage” chronicled the interaction between victims and their families on the morning of Sept. 11, from the time they began their day until the flight crashed at 10:06 a.m.
“Bryan’s article did not spend very much time on the airplane on that day. Neither will we,” FX Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly said. “This will not be ‘The Taking of Flight 93.’ ”
In fact, the last scene of the movie likely will be the boarding process. Concept is to memorialize the victims, through a series of vignettes looking at their lives before the fateful flight and how ordinary people would become heroes.
“It was almost impossible to comprehend the decision these people made to ultimately do what they did,” Reilly said. “Everyone sat wondering if they would have had the same courage. None of them were wearing capes. They were just good people.”
“We’re going to find the drama in very small moments, set against what’s ahead.”
Everyone involved in the project insisted the material will be approached sensitively — or they won’t do it.
“We realize this is a sensitive subject,” Tyndall said. “We hope to do it justice and to memorialize the heroes made on the flight, as well as the heroes who were made after. Heroes also were made in those people they left behind.”
Added Cohen: “This project is important to us as producers because we at Cosmic want to do things that make people think … We’re hoping we’ll help people understand that life is precious, that no one should go to bed angry.”
Reilly said there is talk among the key players in this project about mounting the pic as a commercial-free event on FX, perhaps with one sponsor, he said. They’re also looking to attract a cast of well-known actors to play key parts, much in the way stars rose to the occasion for HBO’s “And the Band Played On.”
At least two other Sept. 11-related telepics are in the works at other outlets. CBS has a pic from journalist-producer Lawrence Schiller that likely will take place in real time and will end up focusing on Flight 93. Indie powerhouse Alliance Atlantis is talking to several nets about a pic focusing on the Hamburg, Germany, terror cell believed to be connected to the Sept. 11 hijackings (Daily Variety, Jan. 9).
In addition, USA Network is mounting a biopic about Rudy Giuliani that will include the former New York City mayor’s tribulations on Sept. 11, and HBO is working on a documentary with Giuliani about that day.