By JOHN SOLOMON
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON March 13, 2004 (AP) - The removal of souvenir debris from the scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks reached the highest levels of government, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and FBI Director Robert Mueller's chief of anti-terrorism, a Justice Department investigation has found.
The practice was so widespread inside the FBI that it even forced prosecutors in Minnesota to drop plans to prosecute a company that had taken a fire truck door from the World Trade Center, according to a still-confidential report obtained by The Associated Press. The report said the Justice Department inspector general confirmed that Rumsfeld "has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon" inside his Defense Department office. Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday night that Rumsfeld has a shard of metal from the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on a table in his office and shows it to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared on Sept. 11, 2001.
"He doesn't consider it his own," Di Rita said. "We are mindful of the fact that if somebody has an evidentiary requirement to have this shard of metal, we will provide it to them."
Asked whether Rumsfeld's possession of the shard was similar to FBI agents who have been criticized for taking mementos from the World Trade Center, Di Rita said: "It was never that kind of thing. ... It seemed perfectly appropriate."
The Justice Department investigation also collected testimony that Pasquale D'Amuro, Mueller's executive assistant director for terrorism until last summer, asked a supervisory agent to "obtain a half dozen items from the WTC debris."
D'Amuro told investigators that he asked for pieces of the building for himself and possibly others who worked the investigation "as a memento." He added he was aware that agents had taken such items from other terrorist crime scenes over the years.
D'Amuro left FBI headquarters last July to become an assistant director in charge of the New York office. Joe Valiquette, a spokesman for the New York FBI office, declined comment Friday.
The report also divulged that the FBI supervisor for evidence recovery at the landfill where World Trade Center debris was taken failed a lie detector test and that agents' removal of items like a Tiffany crystal globe gutted a criminal case the bureau was building against a Minnesota contractor that had taken a fire truck door from the same rubble.
Prosecutors told the FBI they "might not indict the crime regarding the fire truck door due to government misconduct involving the Tiffany globe," the report said.
Surviving family members were disappointed by the news.
"Unbelievable," said William Doyle, whose son was killed in the World Trade Center.
"Everybody has things that they probably should not have from the World Trade Center site," added Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son died in the towers.
The Justice Department's report has not been officially released, but heavily deleted versions of the report began circulating around Washington last month showing 13 FBI agents had taken rubble, debris and items such as flags and a Tiffany crystal globe paperweight.
The bureau announced it was banning agents from taking items from crimes scenes, but no agents were being charged with crimes because the bureau did not have such a policy during the Sept. 11 investigation.
A lawyer for retired agent Jane Turner, who blew the whistle on the FBI's removal of souvenir debris, said agents should have been charged.
The amount of theft from Ground Zero by federal officials is shocking," attorney Stephen M. Kohn said. "Every federal employee who stole or converted property from that crime scene must be held fully accountable under the law."
The full report obtained by the AP divulges some senior FBI managers were among those cited for having authorized or asked for mementos.
Besides D'Amuro, the report said the now-retired head of the New York FBI office, Barry Mawn, asked for and received an American flag and a piece of marble from the debris. And the agent in charge of FBI in Knoxville, Tenn., Joe Clark, requested and received a 100-pound piece of steel to display in an exhibit dealing with hate crimes, the report said.
The report stated FBI agents who worked in New York repeatedly expressed their disgust that visiting colleagues and supervisors would "want to take items, including pieces of the building which were contaminated with blood and human body parts."
The report disclosed that among the items taken, agents had cut World Trade Center security patches from the sleeves of shirt pieces found in the rubble.
"It was a ghoulish prospect that anyone would want things from a crime scene where people have died," one agent was quoted as telling investigators.
Two senior FBI lawyers from New York told investigators they were never consulted by FBI managers about the propriety of taking items, and would have objected.
The FBI New York office's ethics officer, Steven Carolotto, "emphatically stated FBI agents could not profit from working any location" and the "calamity of the event was inconsistent with the taking of items for personal use."
Investigators also stated the agent who ran the recovery effort at the landfill, Richard Marx of Philadelphia, gave "inconsistent" answers during the investigation after several colleagues claimed he had given them permission to take items. Marx failed a polygraph last summer, the report said.
Excerpts of documents available at: http://wid.ap.org/documents/documents/911souvenirs1.pdf
March 13, 2004 (eXoNews) - Excited about the prospect of network mid-season replacements? Think again. This is TV 2004 we're talking about. Sure, ABC has given us Kingdom Hospital, for what it's worth.
Yes, Fox has finally shown us Wonderfalls, even if it is a little late in following Joan of Arcadia with a divinely inspired heroine.
I suppose there is some hope for Stargate Atlantis on Sci Fi this summer, and we will get more Dead Zone and Monk from USA.
But there's little else coming up to write home about. More lawyers and sitcoms. More recycled "reality" shows.
A few experiments gone bad, like the perfectly awful Tripping the Rift on Sci Fi and Game Over on UPN. (Ever download a game demo, look at it once and then forget it was on your system? Both of these shows feature rendered animation ala Lara Croft computer games, but neither is a tenth as inspiring.)
Anyway, you'll decide for yourselves. Here's the list of upcoming potential losers, with a notes on the ones you obviously might want to watch. If you really want free entertainment, forget TV. I suggest you apply for a library card.
The Big House - Kevin Hart sitcom - Premieres Friday, April 2 at 8:30 PM / 7:30c
Airs Fridays at 8:30 PM / 7:30c
The D.A. - Lawyer show - Premieres Friday, March 19 at 10 PM / 9c
Airs Fridays at 10 PM / 9c
Century City - Lawyer show set in 2053 - Premieres Tuesday, March 16 at 9 PM / 8c
(Additional episode airs Saturday, March 20 at 10PM /9c)
Airs Tuesdays at 9 PM / 8c
Might be worth seeing for Kristin Lehman (X-Files, Strange World, Andromeda and Chronicles of Riddick), although she's not the lead.
The Stones - Divorced couple still lives together - Premieres Wednesday, March 17
Airs Wednesdays at 9:30 PM / 8c
The Jury - Lawyer show - Premiere To Be Announced
Airtime To Be Announced
Still Life - Dead lead character show - Premiere To Be Announced
Airtime To Be Announced
Wonderfalls - Premiered Friday, March 12
Airs Fridays at 9 PM / 8c
Joan of Niagara Falls, but not, according to producers Bryan Fuller, Todd Holland and Tim Minear. Star Caroline Dhavernas has been getting a lot of press, but she'll have to work hard to beat out Joan's Amber Tamblyn, who is already garnering nominations for talking to God.
The opening episode was fast and fun. Jaye is not Joan and the special effects were marvelous. How a mainstream audience will react to talking toys remains to be seen, but we'll be watching for sure!
Come to Papa - Tom Papa sitcom - Premiere To Be Announced
Airtime To Be Announced
High School Reunion 2 - "Reality" sequel - Premieres Sunday, March 14
Airs Sundays at 9 PM / 8c
Summerland - Fashion designer raising children - Premiere To Be Announced
Airtime To Be Announced
CBS Century City Official site - http://www.cbs.com/primetime/century_city
Wonderfalls Official - http://www.fox.com/wonderfalls
Save Angel Campaign Efforts Span the Globe
SaveAngel.org Press Release
LOS ANGELES March 11, 2004 - ANGEL fans from around the world are showering WB Co-CEO Jordan Levin with signs of devotion to their favorite vampire with a soul. From flower arrangements to advertising to rallies and blood drives, the campaigns to save the cancelled WB series ANGEL have hit full steam.
Burbank area florists received a mini economic boom as over 100 flower bouquets began delivery Wednesday to the offices of The WB, all aimed at Jordan Levin. Cards expressed sympathy for the potential loss of viewers, as well as words of support if the network reverses its decision. The initial suggestion came from The WB's own online message board, and spread to all the campaign sites.
On Friday, the Save ANGEL Rally kicked off "Save ANGEL Week" which runs through March 19th. The LA Rally brought hundreds to a peaceful demonstration in front of the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California. Rally organizer Pepper Aahz said, "We're going to show the WB executives that there are enough fans to make a difference, that we are willing to fight for ANGEL."
Next Wednesday, March 17, will be national "Give Blood for ANGEL" day. Fans from around the country will be stopping by their local Red Cross blood bank to donate in the name of the series. Individual donor cards reading "I gave my blood for ANGEL" will be sent to the network in demonstration of how much fans want to see the show continued.
One campaign, at SavingAngel.org, has ads running in industry magazines, beginning with a March 9th full-page in The Hollywood Reporter. On March 15th, a similar ad will appear in Variety.
Earlier in the week, viewers were buoyed by insider information that their efforts had already returned the production companies and The WB to the negotiating table. A source with connections to Mutant Enemy posted a tip that talks were currently underway to bring ANGEL back from the dead. An earlier message sent from News Corporation's UK satellite company BSkyB seemed to confirm that the parties were feeling the pressure from both ANGEL viewers and broadcasters.
ABOUT THE SAVE ANGEL RALLY
The Save ANGEL Rally was originated and organized by Pepper Aahz, a 25-year-old mother of two in San Jose, California.
Aahz feels a strong connection to the show, for a particularly personal reason: her autistic son learned to speak because of it. "Therapists and surgeries didn't have the same impact on my child as a good guy saving the world with a cool sword. After two years of watching, he now has a semi-full vocabulary."
Said Aahz, "I owe it all to the cast and crew of Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] and Angel."
Through the series, Aahz has found friendship and escape from daily worries: "Because of this show, I have met the most amazing people. Every Wednesday, the same group of us meet to watch ANGEL, and regardless of personal stress, we can always put it aside for one hour, together."
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Save Angel Rally-LA
Give Blood for ANGEL
More at http://www.SaveAngel.org
Rally at http://saveangelrally.com
[It's about time! Lorne speaks out! Read Mika Gill's excellent post-cancellation interview with Andy Hallett (Lorne) - great pictures too - http://www.tve.co.il/story.asp?id=1888 Ed.]
Saturn Award Television Nominations:
What? No Duck Dodgers?
March 13, 2004 (eXoNews) - The 30th Annual Saturn Award Nominations were announced a while back and I admit that I kinda missed that this year. Ironic because for once almost all the right people in the wonderful world of TV are being honored by the Saturns. Take a look at the list below. Some of your favorite TV genre shows and stars have finally received proper recognition! Note that Big Network shows are (for once) in the minority!
The 30th Annual Saturns are for the best shows of 2003, of course, and that seems light years away here in 2004. Joan of Arcadia did manage to make the list in one category (Amber Tamblyn is up for Best Actress), but the kids on Angel and Buffy scored highest and Tru Calling's Eliza Dushku, a Buffy and Angel vet, is even there on her own (also for Best Actress.)
Hell, even Farscape made the list! (Anybody remember Farscape?)
Some tough choices there, too. Especially under Best Supporting. Amy Acker or Charisma? (We know how the Angel fans will vote on this, but Amy has just been possessed / transformed into Illyria and she's working hard there, guys!) Alexis Denisof versus James Marsters versus Michael Rosenbaum versus John Glover? That's an impossible call for everybody except the James Marsters fan army.
Amanda Tapping belongs under Best Actress, BTW, not Best Supporting. She is the only lady left on Stargate and practically the overall lead in Season Seven, what with Richard Dean Anderson doing reduced time. Amanda also directed an ep this year, written by Stargate co-star Michael Shanks, who managed to underscore Amanda's sexist misplacement by making the Best Actor list. She may not be Peter DeLuise as a director, but Amanda Tapping is definitely a lead actress.
I'm not sure what CSI is doing in a science fiction and horror nominee list at all. Truly horrible in the blood and gore, catsup and pig bladder department, but there aren't really any thrills in TV's highest rated Big Network series. In fact, it's getting very hard to stay awake through a whole episode, despite CSI's first-rate actors and actresses. Blood and gore without suspense is booooring! (Come on, Saturn guys, CSI is a cop show! We know you want the Saturn Awards to get on network TV, but give us a break!)
Still, we can't really complain. Everyone on this list deserves a medal. The Saturns will be handed out on May 5, 2004. No word on possible television coverage, but I'm sure Joan and Melissa Rivers would be welcome.
Here are the TV noms.
Best Network Television Series
Angel (WB Network)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (UPN)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
Smallville (WB Network)
Star Trek: Enterprise (UPN)
Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series
Dead Like Me (Showtime)
The Dead Zone (USA Networks)
Farscape (Sci Fi Channel)
Stargate SG-1 (Sci Fi Channel)
Best Television Presentation
Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi Channel)
Children Of Dune (Sci Fi Channel)
The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer (ABC)
Riverworld (Sci Fi Channel/Alliance Atlantis)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network/Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Best Actor In A Television Series
Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG-1 - Sci Fi Channel)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise - UPN)
David Boreanaz (Angel - WB Network)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1 - Sci Fi Channel)
Michael Vartan (Alias - ABC)
Tom Welling (Smallville - WB Network)
Best Actress In A Television Series
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling - Fox)
Jennifer Garner (Alias - ABC)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer - UPN)
Kristin Kreuk (Smallville - WB Network)
Ellen Muth (Dead Like Me - Showtime)
Amber Tamblyn (Joan Of Arcadia - CBS)
Best Supporting Actor In A Television Series
Alexis Denisof (Angel - WB Network)
Victor Garber (Alias - ABC)
John Glover (Smallville - WB Network)
James Marsters (Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel - UPN/WB Network)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville - WB Network)
Nick Stahl (Carnivale - HBO)
Best Supporting Actress In A Television Series
Amy Acker (Angel - WB Network)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise - UPN)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel - WB Network)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X - Tribune)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica - Sci Fi Channel)
Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1 - Sci Fi Channel)
For the entire gamut of Saturn Nominations, including movies and DVDs, go to The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films site at http://www.saturnawards.org
Isabella Rossellini Does Le Guin on Sci Fi
LOS ANGELES March 12, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - Isabella Rossellini has signed on to star in the Sci Fi Channel's miniseries "Earthsea."
Based on the series of novels by Ursula K. Le Guin, the four-hour "Earthsea" is scheduled to premiere in December. Rossellini will play a high priestess named Thar, which the network calls a "pivotal role."
The story focuses on a young man named Ged who discovers he has great magical powers. As he strives to hone his abilities, he begins a journey that may lead him to unite the land of Earthsea.
Sci Fi has enjoyed considerable success with miniseries in each of the past two Decembers. "Taken" set ratings records in 2002 and won the Emmy for outstanding miniseries, and "Battlestar Galactica" performed strongly for the network last year.
Gavin Scott ("The Mists of Avalon") is writing "Earthsea." Robert Halmi Sr. of Hallmark Entertainment is executive producing the miniseries with Lawrence Bender ("Kill Bill") and Kevin Brown.
Rossellini was most recently seen guest-starring in an episode of ABC's "Alias." Her other credits include "Blue Velvet," "Big Night," "Roger Dodger" and the A&E miniseries "Napoleon."
Sci Fi Channel - http://www.scifi.com
US Media Censorship: House Passes Indecency Fine Increases
By JONATHAN D. SALANT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON March 12, 2004 (AP) - Angered by what they called an increasing coarseness on over-the-air television and radio, House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to raise the maximum fine for broadcasters and personalities who air indecent material.
The House on Thursday voted to set the maximum fine for both broadcasters and entertainers at $500,000 per indecent incident, up from $27,500 for license holders and $11,000 for personalities.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where the Commerce Committee has also passed legislation raising the maximum indecency fine to $500,000.
"It's a shame we have to address this issue, but when members of the broadcast industry violate the boundaries of reasonable tolerance, that's exactly what we're forced to do," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "The House has sent a clear signal to our broadcasters: Enough is enough."
The vote was 391-22, as members of both parties decried what they said was inappropriate programming during times that children may tune in.
"As the father of two young boys, I share the disgust of parents around the country who are appalled at what is broadcast on our public airwaves," said Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas. "Parents have a right to expect decent standards for their children."
Senators went further in their bill, raising the maximum fine to $500,000 and approving provisions to address violence on television and to delay for one year the FCC's media ownership rules that allow, among other things, companies to own both newspapers and broadcasting stations in the same market. During that time, the General Accounting Office would look at whether there is a connection between indecency and media consolidation.
If those provisions remain in the Senate bill, then negotiators for both houses will try to work out the differences.
Though introduced in January following FCC Chairman Michael Powell's call for higher fines, the bill wound up on a fast track to passage after the now-infamous Feb. 1 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with singer Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson's breast to 90 million viewers.
The FCC said Thursday it had received 530,828 complaints just about the halftime show. Last year, the agency received 240,350 indecency complaints for all programs.
"On Super Bowl Sunday, all of America saw how just how disgusting the industry is intent on being and said collectively they've had enough," said L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Parents Television Council, a conservative advocacy group.
But the American Civil Liberties Union decried the action, saying that freedom of speech could be impinged as broadcasters try to follow a vague definition of what is indecent.
Federal law and FCC rules prohibit over-the-air radio and TV stations from airing offensive material that refers to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuned in. There are no such restrictions for cable and satellite TV and satellite radio.
"The vagueness of the language will lead broadcasters and individuals to stifle their remarks and remain silent rather than run the risk of facing an FCC fine," said Marvin Johnson, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "In the end, we are left with no clear understanding of just what is 'indecent' and worse yet, it seems we will only find out when huge fines are levied on broadcasters or speakers."
The House bill also requires the FCC to act on indecency complaints within 180 days after they are received, and orders the agency to consider revoking license of any broadcaster found with three indecency violations.
Text of the bills, H.R. 3717 and S. 2056 are at: http://thomas.loc.gov
FCC website - http://www.fcc.gov/parents/content.html
US Media Censorship: George Carlin on Sex in the Media
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES March 13, 2004 (AP) - George Carlin famously dissected "The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television" as a way to explore what everyone was so uptight about. Thirty-two years later the same debate is still raging, now fueled by Janet Jackson's Super Bowl flash, the suspension of Howard Stern's raunchy radio show from six stations and new House legislation that would raise a performer's indecency fine from $11,000 to $500,000.
So what does the 66-year-old Carlin think of the current handwringing over what is indecent, profane, obscene, immoral, lewd or insulting?
"More of the same, more of the same. What are we, surprised?" Carlin told The Associated Press on Friday
He blamed it on religious moralism, media commercialism and election-year politics.
"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things bad language and whatever it's all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition. ... There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. ... It's reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have."
Mix that with TV or radio, and you've got a problem, he said.
"What I always remind people is, radio and television and as it happens newspapers and magazines too, are advertising media. ... When you have commercialism involved you have the kind of fear that advertisers are very afraid of offending some potential customer. They don't want to lose a sale. So they have this need to inspect and clean up and watch the content in order not to hurt their own sales. It's based on success at the cash register.
"And yet, they're very inconsistent - on that Super Bowl broadcast of Janet Jackson's there was also a commercial about a 4-hour erection. A lot of people were saying about Janet Jackson, 'How do I explain to my kids? We're a little family, we watched it together ...' And, well, what did you say about the other thing? These are convenient targets."
He also thinks President Bush is trying to placate right-wing voters.
The U.S. Air Force veteran compared the recent tension with memories of his military experience.
"These bursts of interest and decency are just like when you're in the Air Force, Army and Marines, whatever the discipline in your unit may get a little lax, people live with it, it's fine for months at a time then some colonel notices it and suddenly they crack down ... enforcing all the minor rules and regulations. Then what happens after these bursts of bothering people, that wears off and we get back to normal, relaxed discipline, but things still get done.
"Society can be counted on to let this fade."
George Carlin Official site - http://www.georgecarlin.com