NBC will mark anni with one-hour primetime special

The cameras are coming back to New Orleans.

Starting next week, the broadcast networks will return en masse to the scene of Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005.

NBC will mark the anniversary of one of the nation’s costliest and deadliest storms with one-hour primetime special “Katrina: The Long Road Back,” anchored by Brian Williams

Doc, which will air commercial-free, includes Williams’ Sundance Channel special “In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina,” about the anchor’s experience living in the New Orleans Superdome with thousands of evacuees when the storm hit.

Williams has made 11 trips to New Orleans over the past year, and the network opened a full-time bureau to cover the aftermath and rebuilding.

The story of Katrina is one of “race relations, government neglect and infrastructure collapse, but also of compassion as communities across the country opened their homes to refugees,” said NBC News prexy Steve Capus.

With multiple wars in the Middle East and new terror fears, New Orleans has been marginalized on the TV news agenda, but that promises to change, at least temporarily, when the networks revisit the city starting Aug. 26. All three network morning shows head to New Orleans that weekend: Campbell Brown will host NBC’s “Weekend Today” from New Orleans on Sunday; CBS’ “The Early Show,” with Harry Smith, will originate from New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday; and ABC’s “Good Morning America” moves to New Orleans on Aug. 28, hosted by Gulf Coast native Robin Roberts.

Intense competition has broken out to book the central figures in the disaster: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Sen. Mary Landrieu and former FEMA director Michael Brown.

On Sunday, Nagin will appear on “Meet the Press With Tim Russert” and later on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Landrieu will appear on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

Brown, in the midst of a yearlong campaign to rehab his image, will visit “Today’s” Matt Lauer and Ann Curry in New Orleans on Monday.

Other planned coverage:

  • NBC’s Williams and ABC’s Charles Gibson will anchor their respective newscasts from New Orleans on Aug. 28 and 29.

  • ABC’s “Nightline,” hosted by Terry Moran, will originate from New Orleans on Aug. 28 and 29.

  • Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith, a Mississippi native who drew national attention for his work in New Orleans last year, will return for four days, anchoring both “Studio B” and “Fox Report With Shepard Smith” from the region.

  • Fox’s Greta Van Susteren will anchor her show from New Orleans for two days.

  • MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former Florida congressman from the Gulf Coast, will take his show to Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss. MSNBC will air two hourlong docs, “Rising From Ruin, Revisited,” with anchor Lester Holt, and “Catastrophe: Katrina.”

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