PBS Remembers September 11

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Pasadena, CA - July 26, 2002 - For the greatest generation, it was Pearl Harbor. For baby boomers, it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. For children of the new millennium, it will no doubt be September 11 - a day of such import that they'll forever remember where they were and what they were doing when the towers fell and the world changed. As the nation commemorates the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, PBS presents "We Remember," a selection of programs that salute the heroes, memorialize the departed and analyze the attacks and their aftermath. The programs air on PBS between Tuesday, September 3, and Wednesday, September 11, 2002. (Check local listings.)

The commemorative programming begins with FRONTLINE "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero" (9/3, 9:00 p.m.; repeats 9/11, 8:00 p.m.). Ground Zero in Manhattan has become a place of pilgrimage; thousands of people visit the site, looking for consolation as they question the events of September 11. This two-hour program explores how survivors, families and friends are coping with difficult questions of good and evil, God's culpability and the potential for darkness within religion itself.

The following day, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIAL "Ambassador" (9/4, 8:00 p.m.) goes behind embassy walls, with unprecedented access to those who keep America's international relations stable and strong in the midst of crisis and calm. Of particular interest is Pakistan, where the new ambassador arrived only one month before the September 11 attacks and now is a frontline warrior in the struggle against terrorism.

When planes hijacked by Islamic extremists crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the lives of Arab immigrants changed forever. CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE (9/4, 10:00 p.m.) interweaves the tales of three individuals - a minister trying to nurture his Brooklyn congregation and his family in Palestine; a New York City cop who escaped injustice in Yemen only to confront it on his beat; and a high-level diplomatic correspondent championing the Arab perspective even as she's harassed by the Lebanese government - whose burdens are multiplied tenfold by 9/11 and its aftermath.

Another FRONTLINE program, "Campaign Against Terror" (9/8, 9:00 p.m.), recounts for the first time on television the behind-the-scenes story of the U.S. and world response to the terrorist attacks on America. Featuring interviews with key U.S. players and world leaders, the two-hour special examines the complex diplomatic maneuvering that led to an international coalition against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Hard hit in the attacks, the Fire Department of New York City lost 343 firefighters at the World Trade Center. HEROES OF GROUND ZERO (9/9, 8:00 p.m.) captures the shock, despair, determination, professionalism and hope of the firefighters in the weeks immediately following the attacks and later as they struggle to adjust to their changed lives. The film focuses on two firehouses, the West 31st Street Firehouse in midtown Manhattan and the Middagh Street Firehouse in Brooklyn Heights.

P.O.V. "Afghanistan Year 1380" (9/9, 10:00 p.m.) - the title refers to the religious calendar year - recounts the continuing challenges for surgeon Gino Strada and medical coordinator Kate Rowlands, of the human rights group EMERGENCY, to provide medical and humanitarian support to civilian war victims at their hospital in Kabul.

On the eve of the anniversary, NOVA reprises "Why the Towers Fell" (9/10, 8:00 p.m.), a program with exclusive access to a team of forensic engineers from FEMA who determine, through detailed computer graphics, how a massive steel behemoth could be reduced to 150 feet of dust and rubble. In the immediate aftermath of the assaults, 252 international flights carrying nearly 44,000 dazed and frightened passengers - most of them Americans traveling home - were suddenly grounded in Canada. STRANDED YANKS (9/10, 9: 00 p.m.) documents a five-day period, from September 11 to September 16, when Canadians opened their hearts and homes to those in need. Later that evening, AMERICA REBUILDS (9/10, 10:00 p.m.) examines the process of cleaning up Ground Zero and the engineering challenges faced by the workers on site. Granted exclusive access in the weeks following September 11, the documentary team filmed there for nine months, interviewing the engineers and construction workers.

On September 11 itself, Bill Moyers hosts an evening of special programming: an encore of FRONTLINE "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero" (8:00 p.m.), followed by A REQUIEM FOR SEPTEMBER 11 (10:00 p.m.). A live concert event staged at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., the program will offer an opportunity for Americans to remember, reflect and find solace in a stirring performance of one of the most moving musical works ever composed - Giuseppe Verdi's "Requiem." Set against the spectacular and emotionally resonant backdrop of the downtown Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, A REQUIEM FOR SEPTEMBER 11 will feature the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Westminster Choir, along with special guest stars (to be announced), performing a special musical tribute to a city and country still in shock and mourning.

Between Tuesday, September 3, and Friday, September 13, THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER (Mondays-Fridays, 6:00 p.m.) will feature programming with one central theme: How has America changed since, and in response to, the September 11 attacks and their aftermath? Senior correspondents will conduct conversations with a diverse group of people around the country about their thoughts on life in post-9/11 America, and Jim Lehrer will moderate in-studio interviews with leaders of the administration and Congress. In addition to stories about anniversary activities, the NEWSHOUR will include updates to 9/11 stories previously aired. NOW WITH BILL MOYERS (Fridays, continuing series) will devote segments to the anniversary.

Programming for children and teenagers addresses the September 11 events as well. ZOOM, which last fall responded rapidly with the half-hour special "ZOOM: America's Kids Respond" presents a follow-up special, revisiting the children featured in the original and highlighting a new group of kids from across the country who are making a difference in their communities through volunteerism. This timely, unique program, targeted both to parents and children, touches on cross-cultural understanding and conflict resolution, and moves beyond the crisis to celebrate the strength and spirit of children.

IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL is a teen perspective on the aftermath of 9/11. The three segments, airing in September, are "Living With Change," "Get the News?" and "Dealing with Difference."

Season seven of ARTHUR culminates with "April 9th," a two-part story that explores some of the emotional reactions kids have had in the aftermath of September 11 - brought down to the kid-scale of a fire in Lakewood Elementary's teacher's lounge, forcing the school to close. This unexpected event finds the children dealing with a wide range of responses: Sue Ellen is devastated when her diary is ruined. Binky sees the frightening flames up close but tries to act cool. Mr. Read escapes a school catering job unhurt - but now Arthur is constantly worried about his dad's safety. And Buster feels totally left out because he overslept and completely missed the disaster.

READING RAINBOW premieres four episodes with themes closely tied to the emotions and issues of September 11. The two-week block of programming (9/2-9/13) provides hopeful situations and positive models for action for children. In "The Tin Forest" (9/3), host LeVar Burton spends the day with the students of P.S. 234, an elementary school just blocks away from Ground Zero. "Max" (9/4) shares true stories of real-life young heroes. "Enemy Pie" (9/5) spotlights two kids from very different backgrounds - they look different, wear different clothes, practice different religions - who get to know each other as they spend the day together. In "Our Big Home: An Earth Poem" (9/6), LeVar meets 2002 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Craig Kielburger, the teenage founder of the global youth group "Kids Can Free the Children," which is run completely by kids. Youngsters from this organization take an extraordinary journey to one of the poorest sections of Nicaragua and build a school in 10 days. The venerable Fred Rogers, of MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD, will provide new PSAs that will help guide children at this important moment.

Coverage extends to the Web. "Global Connections," due to launch August 29 on www.pbs.org, aggregates resources throughout PBS and NPR sites to explore the culture, religion, economics, politics, history and science/technology of the entire Middle Eastern region. PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving over 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet.


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Michael Turner, PBS

Cathy Lehrfeld, PBS
212-708-3047 (In Pasadena 7/26: 626-535-9632)