- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2001

The world of sports, on hiatus since Tuesday, resumes play tomorrow and the music and film industries as well. The TV networks are reassessing their current and upcoming releases in the wake of the atrocities in New York and Washington. Indeed, the horrifying reality is that some of the fantasies we so love to see and hear are just, well, too close to the real thing.
College sweeties didn't get to see their boys on the gridiron this weekend, and the Big Boys of the NBA will have to wait a little while longer for Michael Jordan to answer the will-he-or-won't-he-question. Barry Bonds, meanwhile, will give it a go this week. The suspension of sports was but a minor casualty of Tuesday's attacks — a suspension of play due to both the emotional impact as well as the fact that air travel was suspended. Besides, what would sports be without New York teams?
Elsewhere in the world of entertainment, story lines are being rewritten, album covers are being yanked, TV specials are being cancelled outright (such as the Emmys) and movie premieres are being postponed, some indefinitely. On the album cover of the new hip-hop CD "Party Music," for example, one member of the group the Coup holds two sticks of dynamite while another holds a detonator. On the upcoming new show from CBS called "The Agency," as in CIA, agents discuss covert activities in London, Syria and Jordan, and they talk about stopping a ring of international bomber and about Osama bin Laden. (Hmm.) And Fox has replaced its much-hyped made-for-TV movie "Rats," about vermin overtaking New York City, on its Monday lineup.
While neither the sports and entertainment industries nor the TV outlets have assigned dollar signs to their respective losses (TV provided commercial-free coverage), network and cable news ratings are extremely high. Nielsen Media Research estimates that viewership last week was up 47 percent over this time last year, and that 60.5 million people tuned into Tuesday's prime-time coverage. Among the major networks, NBC ranked No. 1 (with 22.4 million) while CNN drew top spot among cable outlets (7.7 million).
To be sure, Hollywood has produced powerful footage of America under attack ("Air Force One," "Independence Day") and of natural disasters ("Towering Inferno" and "Deep Impact"). But that is all make-believe. That is Hollywood at its best.
Make no mistake, though, those films and performances are absolutely nothing compared to what began with a single airplane crash at 8:48 am EST on Tuesday, Sept. 11 and still has us reeling and captivated. Indeed, what transpired Tuesday was no contrivance for a bad Hollywood movie or TV series. It was unimaginable — even, it seems, by Hollywood standards.

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