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Hollywood Hits the brakes to swerve around bombs

by reuters Sunday, Sep. 16, 2001 at 6:15 AM

Opening Of 2 Films Featuring Bombs Or Terrorists Delayed Fall TV seasons postponed on NBC

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13, 2001 (Reuters) Reality hit home in Hollywood as

studios delayed release of two major films featuring bombs or terrorists

-including Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Collateral Damage" - and yanked ads

for"Spider-Man" a day after the deadliest attacks in U.S. history.

Executives at the nation's major television networks, too, reconsidered their fall

TV schedules with one, NBC, deciding to postpone fall premieres altogether

by at least a week to make way for ongoing news coverage of the attacks on the

World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which may have left thousands dead.

Walt Disney Co.'s Touchstone Pictures postponed the September 21

premiere of comedy film "Big Trouble," starring Tim Allen, and AOL Time

Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. delayed its October 5 release of "Collateral

Damage," in which Schwarzenegger goes after terrorists.

Neither studio set new debut dates for the movies.

Based on a novel by humorist Dave Barry, "Big Trouble" follows a group of

people who find a mysterious suitcase leading to a terrorist plot revolving

around a black-market nuclear bomb, shady businessmen, FBI agents and hit

men.

A two-sentence statement from Touchstone cited the "national tragedy that

occurred" as the reason for the delay.

In "Collateral Damage," Schwarzenegger portrays a fireman who sees his wife

and son die in the terrorist bombing of a building. But when he travels to South

America to avenge the deaths, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue.

Similarly, Warner Bros. issued a statement citing "yesterday's tragic events" as a

reason for its action.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Japan's Sony Corp., pulled from

theaters trailers for next May's "Spider-Man" in which bank robbers are caught in

a web spun between the World Trade Center towers. Sony also recalled

posters in which the towers are shown in a reflection of the comic book hero's

eyes.

On U.S. airwaves, Disney's ABC television network canceled a planned

broadcast Saturday of the 1997 thriller "The Peacemaker," which involves

nuclear terrorism.

"It just didn't seem appropriate at this time," network spokeswoman Annie Fort

said. ABC instead will air the romantic comedy "Hope Floats," starring Sandra

Bullock and Harry Connick Jr., and an episode of "America's Funniest Home

Videos."

Likewise, Fox is bumping a Sunday broadcast of the 1996 hit film

"Independence Day," in which aliens destroy the White House and New York's

Empire State Building, and instead will air a repeat of "That '70s Show" and the

film comedy "Mrs. Doubtfire," a network spokesman said.

And Friday, Fox will replace the feature-length "X-Files" movie, which includes a

scene of an office building blowing up, with the romantic comedy "Nine Months,"

starring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore.

But the biggest development in television came with NBC's announcement to

push back its heavily promoted premiere week of new shows to September

24 from the planned September 17.

"In light of the recent tragic events in our country, NBC has decided to postpone

the premieres of the network's fall prime-time programs ... Further

developments could alter this plan," the network said in a brief statement.

ABC and CBS executives also were contemplating postponing the premieres

of returning series and new shows next week due to the heavy demand for

news, network officials said.

The smaller Fox network is less affected because its fall lineup follows a more

staggered schedule with many new shows not slated to debut for several

weeks.

All major networks said they were taking a hard look at their fall shows to

safeguard against content that might seem insensitive in light of Tuesday's

tragedy.

A number of upcoming shows feature stories that may strike too close to recent

events, including several CIA-themed dramas -- ABC's "Alias," CBS' "The

Agency" and Fox's "24."

NBC's fall lineup also includes the espionage-themed new drama "UC

Undercover." Another NBC show likely to draw network scrutiny is a five-hour

miniseries slated to run across the three editions of NBC's "Law & Order" that

centers on an act of terrorism against the United States.

CBS is a unit of Viacom Inc., and Fox is a division of Fox Entertainment Group

Inc., which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Ltd.

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