9/11 dominates cablers tour

Giuliani: Terror OK for airwaves

PASADENA — Rudolph Giuliani, the man who was New York City’s mayor the day Gotham was attacked, says it’s OK to make television shows about Sept. 11.

In fact, he told attendees of the semiannual Television Critics Assn. Tour, the Sept. 11 documentary he’s involved in is “really important.”

The former mayor spoke at a dinner HBO hosted at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa Jan. 16 to highlight its spec “In Memoriam: September 11, 2001, New York City.” It is being produced in association with Brad Grey Television.

Giuliani said he participated in part to ensure “an accurate, historical recitation of what happened.”

It’s important, he said, so that “people — not only right now while this memory is fresh for all of us, and very dramatic and very emotional, but 10 and 15 and 20 and 30 years from now — can understand what happened.”

Giuliani’s appearance was particularly poignant, as cable programmers appeared last week to only now be sorting out how to approach the attacks.

Some cablers announced plans to address the issue directly.

  • After weeks of delicate negotiations, MTV said Jan. 14 that Secretary of State Colin Powell will headline a global town meeting on MTV’s outlets worldwide next month.

  • Disney Channel and Nickelodeon both have produced PSAs to help explain terrorism to kids.

  • Reps for CNN and Fox News Channel said that although covering a war is costly, they are committed to doing so without skimping.

Other cablers fielded discussion about how their programs, particularly those developed pre-Sept. 11, will now be accepted.

FX’s upcoming cop drama “The Shield,” whose main character is a morally ambiguous cop, was the subject of one such question.

“The Shield’s” creator-exec producer Shawn Ryan said the terrorism does not change the fact that “there’s also been a lot of questionable police work in this country over the last decade.”

He continued: “This show now is only more relevant in asking the question: What are we as a society willing to accept from our police officers, from our FBI agents, from our CIA operatives to do the things that they need to do to keep us safe?”

Skyline issue

As for whether the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers should be digitally removed from skyline shots in existing TV programs set in Gotham, Giuliani said showbiz people must make their own choices. Since the towers have long been part of the New York City Fire Department’s insignia, Giuliani had to ask himself a similar question.

He decided to keep it.

“It is indelibly a part of the history of the Fire Department, in particular, that lost 343 members in the towers,” he said. “So you can’t erase it historically from the city, and I don’t think you should.”