Brian Grazer, co-chairman of Imagine Television, which is producing the NBC mini-series - and which has hired The Times as a consultant - said he hoped it (a miniseries about 9/11 dealing with the 9/11 hijackers) would do for Muslims what Wolfgang Petersen's film "Das Boot" did for World War II-era Germans.
"Every approach prior to that was, the Germans were horrible," he said. "He humanized them, because they are human. That's what I'm hoping we do, that we don't demonize, that we humanize all the different sides, and so we see the seeds, and we get an understanding from each culture's point of view as to how they got to such a horrible place."
Hollywood executives are notorious for saying utterly awfull and demented things but every now and then they take the cake and choke on it too. Brian Grazer who is to cinema what encephalitis is to cattle, was responsible for such abominations as Gus Van Sant's shot by shot remake of Psycho, the Eminem movie that he hailed as 'an outbreak of talent' (the word outbreak was right anyway), and turning Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat into a movie that scarred a generation of children; is undoubtedly deeply qualified to 'humanize' the 9/11 terrorists.
But beyond Grazer's mindless PC speak, lies the liberal Hollywood premise that there is no evil except in the occasional American right winger and that terrorists and mass murderers are representatives of minority groups who must be understood.
Fortunately the TV series 24, which has Grazer on board as a producer but in a non-creative role, takes a rather different tack. Last week's episode featured a terrorist accomplice who was a United States citizen with critical information about an upcoming attack being saved from interrogation when the lead terrorist calls Amnesty Global (a thinly disguised Amnesty International) to intervene on behalf of his henchman.
Enter a manicured arrogant little lawyer who lectures them on the Constitution only to be shouldered aside as in the last 30 seconds Jack Bauer locates the suspect anyway and begins breaking fingers until he talks. That's politically incorrect Hollywood and one we need more of. We are at war and it is about time the executives in their plush leather chairs realized that those same terrorists have no interest in being humanized, they have an interest in killing as many of us (a category that includes them too) as they can.