‘Towers’ Heroes Remembered

Oct 4, 2004  •  Post A Comment

“Twin Towers” was conceived in 2001 as a pilot for a reality-based series about NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit. It was shelved after Dick Wolf’s and Maury Povich’s production companies ran into access problems related to legal and safety issues, but was later resurrected as a 35-minute documentary about one of the unit members with whom Wolf Films and MoPo Entertainment had worked and his firefighter brother. Both men were lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The documentary won an Oscar and film festival notice and will be released on DVD Oct. 12.

The proceeds will go to charity, said Peter Jankowski, an executive producer of all the incarnations of “Law & Order” and one of the DVD’s producers. He told The Insider that poring over footage featuring Joey Vigiano Jr., with whom the pilot crew and particularly MoPo President Robert Port had bonded, and brother John was emotionally easier than one might expect. Indeed, “It took about a year before I realized he was gone,” Mr. Jankowski said. “It wasn’t until it was done that I realized [Joey] was gone. Then it hit like a sledgehammer.”

Initial marketing targets assorted “Law & Order” audiences, so don’t be surprised if you see “Twin Towers” spots popping up following some installments of Mr. Wolf’s TV series.

In Other News (Bureaus)

ABC News is tweaking news-gathering operations at home and abroad. Its small bureau in Seattle-an outpost considered a hot news spot before the tech bubble burst-is closing and personnel will be reallocated to Los Angeles. In Dallas, the bureau is moving into space at Belo’s WFAA-TV. No changes are expected in Denver, Chicago, Atlanta or Miami. Sources say the personnel count remains the same.

Overseas, The Insider hears, ABC News is replacing some staff camera people (three known, more feared but not confirmed) with freelancers. Undiminished in this move are bureaus in such key spots as London, Rome and Moscow.

In this era there’s a natural instinct to interpret such moves as basic belt-tightening, but The Insider hears that ABC is considering options for expansion in the Middle East and Africa.

It’s a Curt Block Party

Here’s news that will turn frowns on the faces of network and TV press veterans upside down: Curt Block is returning to the PR scene. He has been named executive VP of the Vaughan Communications Group, an up-and-coming PR and marketing company headed by Jeff Vaughan.

Mr. Vaughan was an NBC page when he first met Mr. Block, who was a New York-based NBC PR executive for more than 20 years. When Mr. Block left the Peacock Network in 1993, it was a sign of times that were changing, and not for the best, especially for those TV-beat reporters who could remember making weekly pilgrimages to his office at NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters for a full debriefing on prime-time ratings before the 18 to 49 demographic was even a twinkle in the network’s eyes.