|9/11 WILL NOT DETER CREATIVITY
November 11th, 2001
This began as an opportunity for me to make sense of what has
Before submitting my ruminations to Hal, I circulated them among
asked me: how is it? How is it going? What is it like to be
in New York?
I am a television baby. A now, I must admit though am loathe
man who does not remember any time in his life when there
was not a
television in the house and when he first got the opportunity
to work in
television felt as if he had won the lottery.
In the field of television I have done everything from sell
to develop programs. Ive worked for a couple of cable
networks, an ad
agency in its television programming arm, consulted and run
So it is not surprising that many of my friends are from
the television world
and that many of them are programmers who are making efforts
to deal with the
events of September 11th on both a personal and professional
My god! Is it really two months? A few days short of two
months since the
So, recently, I have begun to reach out to my friends who
work in the
business to see how theyre doing, no matter where they
are. Five years ago
I met Jennifer Hyde when I was on a trip to Atlanta for Chambers
the company for which I was working. Since then, Jennifer
and I have always
been a phone call away and she has been one of the people
who has celebrated
and commiserated with me about the ups and downs of my professional
since we met.
She is Director of Development for CNN Productions and I
phoned her on Monday
of this last week to just touch base, to ask her how shes
doing. Since 9/11
Ive been feeling the need to know how my friends and
people are coping personally and how they are moving forward
Our Monday conversation got truncated. No matter what the
state of AOL Time
Warner, you do not take a call from Ted Turners office.
So we caught up the
Like so many other people I know, it has been a time of prioritizing
Jennifer. Looking at her desk, she sees things that were incredibly
important on September 10 but today are not quite as important.
everyone I know, Jennifer sees the world through a different
prism. The pile
of files on her desk have been re-ordered; so have the files
in her personal
And her work is being seen by herself and her network through
prism. The long form unit has suddenly a deeper relevance.
It was Jennifer
and her colleagues who brought a fateful look in August into
the world of the
Taliban when they presented BENEATH THE VEIL. May we all who
television have the prescience that Jennifer exhibited. But
interesting and perhaps telling was that this
was the highest rated show
theyd ever done. Before we lost the Towers; before we
were at war.
The events of September 11 have aroused in Jennifer Hyde,
as they have in me
and in every American I know, a sense of pride in our country
in the way we
responded. "We were uniformly excellent in the days after
September 11," she
And I could not agree more. We were universally excellent.
We are, or at
least have been until 9/11, I think, the most guiltlessly
sybaritic nation to
march across the globe since the Visigoths finally sacked
Rome but at our
heart and in our souls we have remained guiltless and pure
and that is what
allowed us to be, as Jennifer said, "Uniformly excellent."
It was good for me to speak with Jennifer because she said
things and found
the words for things I havent. She said to me, "There
is no rest."
There is not. And we will not rest again in the same way
we did before. I
will never again sleep as deep and sweet a sleep as I did
before 9/11, before
waking that night to the whine of fighter jets patrolling
my sky against
She told me a line has been drawn in the sand and there is
a world that is
pre and post 9/11. I agree. In some earlier missive I said
crossing the Rubicon. We didnt. Osama did. Now we all
are living with the
And in speaking with Jen, I began to see the consequences
of what has
happened to our country from having had Osama Bin Laden cross
For one thing, our vision is bigger. Our vision of this country
Our vision of the world is larger.
We are willing to submerse ourselves in the story of a documentary
BENEATH THE VEIL so that we can learn what it is like to be
a woman in
Afghanistan under the Taliban. We were that way before 9/11
and we are more
so now. We are more open to the issues. We are, as never before,
world we live in is larger than that expanse of land bordered
by the Atlantic
and the Pacific Oceans.
9/11 "has raised the bar for relevance," said Jen.
Oh God, has it! It is a
world in which we will not open Christmas cards with the same
joy we have in
years past; it is a world in which the exuberance that ruled
in the last five
years will seem a dream of another time.
We are, as Jen said, pensive now as individuals and as a
nation. We are
thinking internationally. We are thoughtful. It is encouraging
for her to
think that the appetite has grown in America for programs
intelligent and international in their focus.
Jennifer told me she has no word for this sadness that we
feel. That we as a
people have no word for the angst we have discovered in the
last seven weeks.
But in this wordlessness and in this angst has come an expanded
national identity and we have a sense of coherence as a nation
that has not
been experienced by this country since the Second World War
And God love her, she is right. No man is an island; no country
island. Those are her words and she is absolutely correct.
A few men
captured four airplanes and shattered our illusion of Fortress
Because of that, we gather around our water coolers and speak
In the last twenty five years the water cooler conversation
dominated by television programming like the last episode
of MASH. That
conversation became fragmented with the television audience
initiated by cable television.
It has become unified in a national event that transcends
And that unification is everywhere, in a way it has never
been in my life.
Of all the things we discussed, the best was at the last.
"We are a creative
country. We will remain a creative country."
Yes, Jennifer, we are. We will be.