Director Spike Lee has edited out the 9/11 truther elements of his HBO docuseries titled “NYC Epicenters: 9/11-2012 1/2,” HBO confirmed to Variety on Thursday, prompting a call for its re-inclusion by family members of 9/11 victims who dispute media characterizations of their views about the attacks.
The new runtime for the fourth and final episode of the docuseries, slated to air Sept. 11, will be around 30 minutes shorter, and “all the exchange and theories about how the towers collapsed” have been removed, according to an HBO spokesperson.
The original cut of the episode, which featured interviews with 9/11 truthers and members of the conspiracy group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, was released in advance to media late last week. On Wednesday, as controversy swelled about the episode as well as comments that Lee made to the New York Times, the director announced that he was re-editing the episode.
In an interview published on Monday in the New York Times, Lee said that he still had “questions” about what happened on 9/11.
“The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature’s not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground — when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it’s like you’re looking at the same thing. But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience,” he said in the interview.
On Friday, Bob McIlvaine and Drew DePalma issued a statement protesting the excised material. McIlvaine’s son Bobby was found in the wreckage of the Twin Towers and the impact of his death was recently chronicled in the Atlantic. DePalma’s mother Jean also died in the attacks.
“We are not conspiracy theorists,” they jointly said. “We are family members seeking the truth about the murder of our loved ones.”
The four-part docuseries premiered on Sunday. It features more than 200 interviews conducted by Lee with eyewitnesses to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including first responders, politicians and journalists.
The next two episodes of “NYC Epicenters: 9/11-2021½” will air on HBO on Sunday, Aug. 29, and Sunday, Sept. 5, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. The reedited final episode will air on Saturday, Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
This story was updated Aug. 27 to include response by family members of 9/11 victims.