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TLC locks pilot documentary

Cabler flies with US Airways' Sullenberger

TLC has secured what it said are the exclusive authorized documentary rights to the story of U.S. Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who became a national hero when he successfully landed a crippled passenger jet in the Hudson River in January, sparing 155 passengers and crew aboard.

TLC is planning a late 2009 airdate for the docu special, which is currently in pre-production. Daniel H. Birman Prods. is handling the project.

“I think this is a story that’s going to stay around a while,” said exec producer Birman. “Let’s not forget we’re talking about a great story, an optimistic story, at a time when there’s not a lot of good news going around.”

Docu will include extensive interviews with Sullenberger, focusing not only on how he saved the plane and its passengers but also on the everyday approach to his profession that positioned him for the task.

TLC plans to unveil the project, and others, to advertisers and their agency personnel today at an upfront presentation in Gotham.

Also to be announced will be the fate of its hit reality skein “Jon and Kate Plus 8.” Season five, which culminated last week, left off with series star Jonathan Gosselin expressing misgivings about his reality TV career.

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