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Imagine to steer NBC terror saga

NBC U pulling ahead in Commission Report race

NEW YORK — Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment has won the race to bring the 9/11 Commission Report to the small screen.

Shingle has inked a deal with NBC Universal TV to produce an eight-hour mini based on the bestselling book, which documents events leading up to the nation’s worst-ever terrorist attack.

Graham Yost, writer of “Boomtown” and two episodes of “Band of Brothers,” will write and exec produce. Howard, Grazer and Imagine TV prexy David Nevins will exec produce; no director has been set.

Project could air as soon as next season, but could take longer given the size of the project.

NBC U will produce in association with 20th Century Fox TV. NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly was integral in putting together the deal Nevins said.

“It’s going to do everything that the book does,” Grazer said. “We just want to be nonpartisan about it and to dramatize in the best and most authentic way what we’ve learned from it.”

Deal puts Peacock in the pole position to bring the 585-page investigation into the 9/11 attacks to TV.

ABC has held talks with several producers about creating a miniseries based on the book, but their task gets tougher now that the Peacock has a project under way.

The book, written by commission members including former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and former Sen. Bob Kerrey, has been widely praised for its compelling narrative style.

Unlike the Starr Report, which read like a tawdry legal brief, the 9/11 Commission’s report is written like a novel, complete with storytelling scenes constructed from 1,200 interviews with survivors, government officials and safety personnel.

Its spare prose style was the product of adjectives being omitted to avoid placing blame or making partisan judgments.

Grazer said the series will start with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and take the viewer through the currents in the Islamic world and intelligence failures that led to the terrorist attacks in 2001.

“If you do it right, you’re making an oral document for the world to see and you’re not pointing fingers,” Grazer said. “We will interview survivors and many people who were the government agencies that were involved.”

Grazer, Howard and Yost also worked together as producers on the HBO mini “From the Earth to the Moon.”

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