- - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

National Geographic Channel to air Bush 9/11 special

Former President George W. Bush had a famously prickly relationship with the media, especially the Washington press corps. With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the horizon, Mr. Bush will emerge from self-imposed exile. And he won’t be talking to any of the A-list anchors at the news divisions.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, he sat for two days of interviews with National Geographic Channel. It was exclusive access that took four months to negotiate and just happened to be scheduled for two days after it was announced that Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden.

George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” will premiere Aug. 28 and is the keystone of seven days of Sept. 11th-themed programming.

National Geographic executives called on New York filmmaker Peter Schnall, whose previous work for the network includes the top-rated 2009 documentary “Onboard Air Force One.”

“I reminded him of our journeys together,” Mr. Schnall said. “I wasn’t a journalist who was out to dig. So we had a friendly relationship in a sense.”

After four months of back-and-forth, Mr. Bush agreed to the interview. He did not ask to see questions in advance, nor did he request final approval over the film - which would have been a deal breaker, Mr. Schnall said. “We would never allow that.” The only condition was that the interview would be limited to the days and events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Schnall himself did not learn of the death of bin Laden until he landed in Dallas with his crew late on the night of May 1.

“It was very surreal. Everyone was just standing and staring at the TV monitors in the airport,” Mr. Schnall said. “Everybody just stopped.”

As he absorbed news of the al Qaeda leader’s death, Mr. Schnall began to worry about his access to Mr. Bush.

“That’s the first thing we thought: ‘Oh, no, he’s either going to cancel the interview because he’s going to run off to Washington or he’s going to start talking to everybody.’ And to our surprise, that didn’t happen.”

The president’s representatives told Mr. Schnall they received 500 media requests after the death of bin Laden. They declined them all.

Mr. Schnall interviewed Mr. Bush on May 3 and 4. The result, he said, is a very personal account of a day that changed the world.

‘Walking Dead’ creator leaving role on show

Just a few days after acclaimed director Frank Darabont took the stage at last week’s Comic-Con to promote season two of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” comes the news that he’s stepping down as the series’ showrunner, Entertainment Weekly reports.

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