Originally created 02/03/06

Sept. 11 TV movie draws record A&E audience



LOS ANGELES - A television movie about one of the doomed Sept. 11 airplanes was A&E's most-watched program ever, a sign that audiences may be ready for a coming spate of movie and TV projects dramatizing the terrorism of five years ago.

"Flight 93," about the hijacking of the United Airlines plane and passengers' efforts to retake it, drew 5.9 million viewers when it premiered Monday, the cable channel said.

It was the most-watched A&E program since the channel launched in 1984.

The movie was based on public records, including phone conversations between passengers on the plane bound from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco and their relatives and friends.

Officials believe the hijackers of the aircraft, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field, had targeted either the White House or the U.S. Capitol.

Other upcoming projects about the day in 2001 that included attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon include an ABC miniseries and several feature films, including one from director Oliver Stone and starring Nicolas Cage.

The ill-fated United Airlines flight also is the subject of "Portrait of Courage: The Untold Story of Flight 93," a one-hour documentary airing 7 p.m. EST Monday, Feb. 13 on the i channel, formerly the PAX TV network.

A&E's "Flight 93" will repeat at noon EST on Saturday and Sunday and at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Last fall, "The Flight that Fought Back," a Discovery Channel special that mixed reenactments and interviews, drew a hefty 7 million viewers.