WATCH: ‘4 Days to Save the world’ was a reality show with big ambitions. See a preview of the Star’s investigation.
In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a network executive at Fox Studios in Hollywood, Calif., began to think about what could be the worst show he had ever devised.
For a few days in early October, when network executives were trying to figure out how to air the show on Fox, the executive had just one question: “What if this were to happen?”
What if the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people was, in fact, a reality show?
Four days later, the network was ready to air 4 Days to Save the World, a dramatization of the weeklong planning and preparation for and aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Within hours of the bombing of the World Trade Center, a cast of celebrities and other “people of influence” from a variety of fields gathered on a hotel balcony for what they hoped would be their final, televised conversation. There were also several hundred well-known politicians and executives from the U.S. government assembled in Washington, D.C. — including President Bush (he was busy with events at the Pentagon), Vice President Dick Cheney and Secret Service agent Dan Glickman. There were journalists and the anchors of local television stations. There were well-wishers, relatives and friends of those who died.
Almost immediately after the terrorists detonated their first truck bomb, a second truck bomb destroyed the Pentagon. Three hijacked planes struck New York and Washington. And at that point, with all the preparations for the show’s live broadcast under way, the network executive and his colleagues realized they had created a new kind of television drama, one that would not be limited to the first and last days, with the story told by the people who were there.
“We couldn’t take it on our own accord,” the executive said, “That’s when all of this became clear.”
By the end of the first day, the network already had cast a show that would tell the story of the