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Cable nets nix violent pix in wake of tragedy

'We've got to be sensitive to what's going on around us,' Herzog sez

NEW YORK — Talk about bad timing.

The USA network had scheduled a primetime run Thursday of 20th Century Fox movie “The Siege” (1998), which deals with Arab terrorists whose carefully timed explosives so disrupt New York City that the government imposes martial law and sets up concentration camps for bombing suspects.

“That movie has gone by the boards,” said Doug Herzog, president of the USA Network. “We’ve got to be sensitive to what’s going on around us.” Other movies Herzog has postponed include two starring Harrison Ford, “Clear & Present Danger” and “Patriot Games,” and “Blown Away,” with Tommy Lee Jones.

USA’s move to clear its sked of programming that may be inappropriate in the wake of terrorist attacks on New York and Washington parallels similar decisions by other general-entertainment networks, particularly those that schedule lots of movies.

At TBS, three pics got the hook in one weekend: “Lethal Weapon,” “Conspiracy Theory” and “Sniper.” The network replaced them with milder movies such as “City Slickers,” “Look Who’s Talking” and John Wayne Western “The Train Robbers.” One source said the goofy comedy “Look Who’s Talking” almost didn’t make the cut because John Travolta plays an airline pilot in the movie.

TBS’ sister net TNT substituted the Wayne Westerns “The Shootist” and “The Cowboys” for “Chinatown” and “Carrie,” and was weighing whether to remove “The Untouchables” and the Bruce Willis movie “Striking Distance” because of excessive violence.

TNT also did some series-episode shifting on “ER,” “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue,” postponing any hours that could be perceived as callous. “In this climate,” said a spokeswoman for the Turner Entertainment Networks, “we’re cognizant of everything we put on the air.”

Howard Stern’s “Son of the Beach” comedy series spoofed the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in one episode, which will not be showing up on Fox Cable’s FX anytime soon. “Die Hard” and “A Simple Plan” are also out of FX’s rotation for the time being.

Viacom’s TNN: The National Network has yanked at least three scheduled movies: “Martial Law,” “A Killer in the Family” and “Chrome Soldier.”

The network will probably get far better ratings with the replacements: three of the nine “Star Trek” movies to which it owns the cable rights.

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