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May 2001: TV Drama Series Writer Considers Storyline about Bin Laden Organizing Hijacking of Three US Planes

Michael Frost Beckner.Michael Frost Beckner. [Source: Public domain]Michael Frost Beckner, the creator of a forthcoming CBS drama series about the CIA, writes a 9/11-like storyline for an episode of his show in which Osama bin Laden has three American aircraft hijacked. [Variety, 11/20/2001] The series, which is scheduled to begin airing in late September, is called The Agency and will show the CIA tackling problems of national security, taking on villains such as Arab terrorists and Colombian drug dealers. [Guardian, 9/6/2001; Guardian, 10/5/2001; CNN, 10/31/2001] Beckner will later tell Variety magazine that, this month, he writes an episode of The Agency “in which bin Laden had three US planes hijacked.” He will apparently provide no further details of the storyline. Variety will report, “Needless to say, the script was never completed.” [Variety, 11/20/2001] Beckner will also reveal that a number of the storylines for the first series of The Agency were suggested to him by Chase Brandon, the CIA’s entertainment liaison officer. [Jenkins, 2012, pp. 65-66] Whether the storyline about bin Laden organizing plane hijackings was suggested by Brandon is unknown. Furthermore, Beckner will say that he has “done a lot of back and forth with the CIA” in his career as a writer, and explain that the agency “would let in anyone, including a little writer like me, to hear that al-Qaeda and bin Laden are going to attack us.” [Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 pdf file] The CIA is in fact cooperating extensively with the producers of The Agency, such as by vetting scripts and allowing filming at CIA headquarters. [New York Times, 8/26/2001] The pilot episode of the show, which Beckner writes, will feature a storyline in which bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist group plots to blow up a department store in London (see September 27, 2001). [New York Times, 9/29/2001; Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 pdf file] And another episode, also written by Beckner, will be based around a planned terrorist attack in the US using anthrax (see October 18, 2001). [Variety, 10/16/2001; Jenkins, 2012, pp. 66]

Entity Tags: Michael Frost Beckner, Central Intelligence Agency, Charles (“Chase”) Brandon

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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