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'The Agency's' Plots are Too Close to Reality

Aired October 30, 2001 - 06:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well let's focus back in the U.S. Here's kind of a weird one for you, a kind of eerie one. Hollywood scripts for show (ph) reality, especially when those scripts are for shows that haven't even been on television yet and that's exactly the case for one series this season.

We get the story now from our Lauren Hunter. She tells us the story line in this series is so close to what actually happened on September 11 and the anthrax scare that some 11th hour reediting was essential.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAUREN HUNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The story could be from the morning paper, the scenes from the nightly news, but it's not. It's "The Agency," a CBS primetime show about the CIA and the world of international espionage.

GAIL KATZ, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE AGENCY": Our show you know seems to be too close to what's in the headlines.

HUNTER: So close that two of the show's episodes were pulled from the network's schedule. The season premiere about a bomb plot by Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network was written last summer. It was pulled following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and another episode hastily reworked to air in its place.

MICHAEL BECKNER, CREATOR, "THE AGENCY": It was awful. It was -- it was absolutely awful. You don't ever want to write something that then is mimicked in real life and causes pain and tragedy in people's lives.

HUNTER: Then a second episode was also too close to reality and was also shelved.

BECKNER: That episode dealt with an airborne anthrax attack over Washington, D.C.

KATZ: People are asking are we showing the bad guys our scripts because this seems like that --you know that they're kind of following in some ways things that we're doing.

HUNTER: What they're doing is researching each story line in detail, pulling from actual CIA cases, reading intelligence manuals and conferring with the show's consultant, a retired operative.

BAZZEL, CONSULTANT, "THE AGENCY": We know how the CIA works, so if we write a script about anthrax or about a bomb or about an assassination or about bin Laden, it's probably going to happen.

HUNTER: Despite the apparent pulled from the headlines plot lines, those on the show say "The Agency" has greater relevance now and the roles as dramatic storytellers won't change.

GIL BELLOWS, ACTOR, "THE AGENCY": I feel like the validity of what we're doing has just increased 10 fold. We need to examine the why. If we do that, then I think we do our part in telling the story.

HUNTER: This Thursday an altered version of the show's pilot will air with all references to bin Laden and Al Qaeda deleted. Now viewers will decide whether "The Agency's" spy game may be too close to the real game.

Lauren Hunter, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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