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Profile: Neal Baer
Neal Baer was a participant or observer in the following events:
Dick Wolf. [Source: Deadline]Writers at NBC work on a five-hour big-budget drama miniseries called Terror, which will be about Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda group committing a series of terrorist attacks in New York. [Variety, 9/10/2001; Los Angeles, 4/2002; USA Today, 12/5/2002] Terror will combine the casts of all three of NBC’s Law & Order crime drama series: the original show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. [Entertainment Weekly, 9/7/2001; Variety, 9/10/2001]
Story Includes Attack Killing over 1,000 in New York - The storyline the writers come up with begins at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. There, a man who is a devotee of bin Laden tells a group of children that he is going to America on a mission for Allah, which the whole world will know about soon. Using a United Arab Emirates passport, he then enters the US across the Canadian border in a rental car. After arriving in New York, he sets off explosives in the subway under Times Square, killing over 1,000 people. [Los Angeles, 4/2002; USA Today, 12/5/2002] Clues then lead to a bioterrorist release of anthrax being discovered. The story culminates in the threat of a release of smallpox.
Filming to Begin in September - Terror is intended to be broadcast in May 2002 as a two-hour movie on a Sunday followed by one-hour episodes over the next three nights. According to Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order, the miniseries will have a large budget. “[T]his is expensive,” he will later say. [Variety, 3/19/2001; Variety, 9/10/2001] NBC is scheduled to begin filming in late September this year, according to some accounts. [Knight Ridder, 9/14/2001; Los Angeles, 4/2002] Wolf will say that filming is set to begin on September 24. [USA Today, 12/5/2002] But according to CNN, it is scheduled to begin the week after 9/11. [CNN, 9/9/2002]
Show's Creator Suggested Terrorism Storyline - The proposed show came about after Wolf was contacted earlier this year by Steve White, NBC’s executive vice president for movies, miniseries, and special projects, and asked if he had any ideas for a five-hour miniseries. Wolf suggested “terrorism in New York City,” which was a story he had “long wanted to do,” according to Los Angeles magazine. “[T]he only story I could think of that justified five hours is terrorism,” Wolf will comment. White agreed to the idea. When Wolf then told Neal Baer, one of Law & Order’s executive producers, that he wanted to do a miniseries about terrorism, Baer said the miniseries “should be [about] bioterrorism.”
Writers Spend Two Days in New York Working on Story - In June 2001, Wolf gets together with a number of his colleagues, including Baer and several writers, in New York, to develop the storyline for Terror. Wolf has already come up with a 40-page outline for the miniseries. Now, the group spends two days working on it. [Variety, 9/10/2001; Los Angeles, 4/2002] By August, according to Baer, “we were really deeply involved in the story.” Baer will recall that those working on the miniseries “would joke that we hoped the real thing didn’t pre-empt our work. Obviously, we had no idea of what was to come.” [Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ]
NBC Does Extensive Research for Show - NBC spends nine months conducting meticulous research for Terror, according to Wolf. [Variety, 9/10/2001] Baer talks to experts at the Rand Corporation think tank, hires a consultant from Stanford University, and reads books on biological warfare. [Los Angeles, 4/2002] Those involved with the miniseries also talk with experts at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia. [Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ] And, according to Wolf, they talk to “top law enforcement people on the state, federal, and local levels” about bioterrorism. [Variety, 9/10/2001] Baer will comment that as a result of their extensive research, “We knew a lot of things most people didn’t know, because we spoke with so many experts all over the country.” At one point, the team working on the miniseries is talked to by the FBI, “because our accumulation of so much information raised a red flag.” [Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ]
Miniseries Canceled in Response to 9/11 - Terror will be canceled less than a week after the 9/11 attacks. [Variety, 9/17/2001] It is one of a number of television dramas and movies featuring storylines about terrorism that are canceled or rewritten following 9/11 (see (January 1998-2001); February 1999-September 11, 2001; Before Before September 11, 2001; September 13, 2001; September 27, 2001; November 17, 2001). [Denver Post, 9/17/2001; Village Voice, 12/4/2001] Baer and others involved with the show are actually in New York, only a couple of miles away from the World Trade Center, on the morning of September 11, doing planning work for the miniseries (see (8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/9/2002]
Entity Tags: University of Minnesota, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dick Wolf, University of Michigan, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RAND Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, NBC, Neal Baer, Stanford University
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Neal Baer. [Source: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles]A group from NBC is in New York, near the World Trade Center, doing preparatory work for a drama miniseries about al-Qaeda committing a series of terrorist attacks in the city. [Variety, 9/10/2001; Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ; CNN, 9/9/2002; USA Today, 12/5/2002] The big-budget five-hour miniseries, called Terror, will combine the casts of all three of NBC’s Law & Order crime drama series: the original show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. It is intended to be broadcast in May 2002. Its storyline follows a devotee of Osama bin Laden who goes from an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan to New York. There, he sets off explosives in the subway under Times Square, killing over 1,000 people. A bioterrorist release of anthrax is subsequently discovered. [Variety, 9/10/2001; Los Angeles, 4/2002; USA Today, 12/5/2002]
Group Doing Planning Work for Show - This morning, Neal Baer, one of Law & Order’s executive producers, is in New York with some of his colleagues, doing preproduction planning for Terror. The group is at a facility at Chelsea Piers, on Manhattan’s West Side, only a couple of miles from the WTC. Baer and his colleagues are “ironing out details” for the miniseries, according to CNN. After the attacks on the WTC take place, they will watch in shock as people run up the West Side Highway, “first panicky groups fleeing the initial hit, then ash-covered survivors of the towers’ collapse.” [Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ; CNN, 9/9/2002]
Magazine Has Front-Page Story about Show - Writers have been working on Terror for several months (see June-September 11, 2001) and filming is scheduled to begin later this month. [Los Angeles, 4/2002; Hollywood, Health and Society, 4/2/2002 ] This morning, Variety magazine even has a front-page story about the miniseries. [Variety, 9/10/2001; CNN, 9/9/2002] But Terror will be canceled less than a week after the 9/11 attacks. The show’s producers will say that it would be “[i]nappropriate to produce the Law & Order miniseries dealing with terrorists, dealing with terrorism, in light of the horrifying events that have unfolded over the past week.” [Variety, 9/17/2001]
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