Showbiz plans a quiet second anniversary of 9/11.

By Gary Susman
Updated September 09, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Bruce Springsteen
Credit: Bruce Springsteen: BOB LARSON/Contra Costa Times/ZUMA Press/Newscom

For the most part, the entertainment industry is marking the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by doing nothing special. Unlike last year, which was marked by daylong coverage of memorial events on TV, this year will be business as usual. Networks such as CBS and NBC plan to show their usual, popular primetime lineups on Thursday. And a lot of pop acts are marking the day by doing nothing, taking a night off from touring instead.

CBS does plan to mark the 9/11 anniversary on ”The Early Show,” broadcasting from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, where the second annual reading of victim’s names will take place. On cable, the Travel Channel will continue with a week of New York-themed programming, the Discovery Channel will show documentaries about the clearing and rebuilding efforts at Ground Zero, and the History Channel will air a documentary about the construction of the World Trade Center. Showtime will re-air its docudrama ”DC 9/11: Time of Crisis” Thursday night at 8. At 7, A&E will air ”7 Days in September,” a compilation of amateur video footage of the attacks and their aftermath, followed by a ”Biography” episode about Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. And at 9, Trio will broadcast ”September 11,” a compilation of short films inspired by the attacks, made by acclaimed directors from around the world. (Representing the U.S. is Sean Penn.)

Rock concert venues will be mostly silent on Thursday. According to Billboard, Cher, Toby Keith, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and the Aerosmith/Kiss tour are making a point of not performing that night, either out of respect or out of the lingering fear that big crowds will be terrorist targets on the anniversary. (as was the case for John Marx, booker for Godsmack, which deliberately chose to start its tour on Sept. 12.) Among the few performances will be the Rolling Stones in Dublin, Willie Nelson in Huntington, W. Va., and R.E.M. in Las Vegas. ”Personally, being a Vietnam veteran, I think it?s totally important to forge ahead and not succumb to the pressures of terrorists,” R.E.M. booker Buck Williams tells Billboard.

On Broadway, the show must go on, but aside from the currently running musicals, some New York theaters are debuting works inspired by 9/11 this week. ”Omnium Gatherum,” by ”NYPD Blue” scribe Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, and ”Portraits,” by Jonathan Bell, both begin previews on Sept. 9 at Off Broadway’s Variety Arts and Union Square theaters, respectively. Israel Horovitz’s ”3 Weeks After Paradise” will be staged at both New York’s Cherry Lane Theater and Los Angeles’ Secret Rose Theater. Meanwhile, a troupe of African-American actors, led by ”Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”’s Avery Brooks, will travel to Athens, Greece, where they’ll perform a 9/11-inspired version of Sophocles’ ”Oedipus Rex” outdoors at the Acropolis.