CNN headlines the ratings news for ABCs "The Path To 9/11" with "Clinton, Most Americans, Skip ABC's 9/11 Miniseries." Their figures say part one of the TV docudrama drew 13 million viewers. NBC's Sunday Night Football had far more: 20.7 million viewers. In fact, ABC's two-part movie did only slightly better than CBS's THIRD airing of its 9/11 documentary "9/11," which was seen by 10.6 million viewers. Mediaweek says the overnight ratings are even tighter: it gave NBC's football a 15.1 rating, with "The Path To 9/11" and CBS's RERUN tied at an 8.2 rating. And that was just a whisker ahead of the 18th season debut of "The Simpsons."
Putting it all in perspective: Since it was airing before the fall TV season began for most networks (Fox starts early), ratings for any TV movie right now should be lower. But clearly it was an expensive, ambitious project. And with the massive media attention, ABC should have hoped for a much higher curiosity factor. All it got were modest ratings. We'll know better tomorrow after the second night's ratings whether the people who watched Sunday were hooked or couldn't be bothered to come back for night two.
Finally, the actors and crew involved should be fonts of fun information: two former FBI agents reportedly quit after a month as advisers because they felt no one cared about accuracy, Harvey Keitel insisted on rewriting his own dialogue and wouldn't say anything he didn't believe to be true and the director was walking around with a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report to try and fact check things. I'm also intrigued by the presence of Amy Madigan as a CIA agent who is furious and ashamed in the movie when they don't kill Bin Laden. She is a major leftie and it'll be intriguing to see how she feels about the project now.