Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2001

CBS pulls anthrax episode of CIA drama ‘The Agency’

October 17, 2001

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— CBS has yanked Thursday's episode of "The Agency" because of its too-timely plot: a CIA effort to fight an anthrax threat to the United States.

"We certainly don't want to do anything to add to the country's fears about anthrax," network spokesman Chris Ender said Tuesday.

In the past two weeks, anthrax has been discovered in three states and the District of Columbia. At least 13 people either have the disease or were exposed to its spores. One person has died.

"The Agency" episode originally was to air Sept. 27 but was pulled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was among a number of changes networks made in the wake of the tragedy.

The anthrax episode was rescheduled to air Oct. 11 but was bumped that night by President Bush's primetime news conference. Rescheduled to this week, it has now been postponed indefinitely.

Airing in its place will be an episode about American miners taken hostage in Indonesia amid a coup threat.

Trying to be sensitive to the public mood and events is a particularly thorny issue for "The Agency" and the handful of other spy and crime shows debuting this season.

CBS pulled the pilot episode for "The Agency," which opened with a Middle Eastern scene of a booby-trapped hostage, gagged with a U.S. flag, dying in an explosion. In the new Fox series "24," about a U.S. counterterrorist unit, the pilot aired after editing of a scene showing a bomb exploding on a plane. And NBC scrapped a script with a terrorist story line for the new series "UC: Undercover," which focuses on a Justice Department crime-fighting unit.

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