Nat Geo secures George Bush exclusive for 9/11 doc

National Geographic Channel is to mark the forthcoming anniversary of 9/11 with an exclusive interview with George W Bush (pictured), in which the former president recounts and reflects on his personal experiences of the terror attacks a decade ago.
July 27, 2011

National Geographic Channel (NGC) is to mark the forthcoming anniversary of 9/11 with an exclusive interview with George W Bush (pictured), in which the former president recounts and reflects on his personal experiences of the terror attacks a decade ago.

George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview will air on NGC in the U.S. on August 28 and in the UK on September 6, representing the cornerstone of the network’s 9/11-themed programming.

The documentary was taped over the course of a two-day interview, and sees Bush opening up “with candid details and personal experiences on the grueling hours and pressure-packed days following the attacks,” according to the network.

The doc will also feature never-before-released archival footage and exclusive materials directly from the George W. Bush Presidential Library. With the interview, the president did not request final approval or ask to see the questions beforehand, but stipulated that the questioning be limited solely to 9/11, and not to other aspects of his presidency.

Recalling his visit to Ground Zero on September 14, Bush says in the doc: “From the air it looked like… a giant scar. But when I actually got to the site, it was like walking into hell.” Elsewhere, he reflects on the death of Osama Bin Laden, saying, “I didn’t feel any great sense of happiness or jubilation. I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done.”

The interview represents a notable coup for Nat Geo. Bush has received thousands of interview requests since leaving office in 2008, but has kept a low profile. The doc will represent the first time the former president has discussed on camera what he was thinking and feeling, and what drove his real-time decisions in the first minutes, hours and days after the attacks.

The doc is produced by Partisan Pictures. The director-producer is Peter Schnall; the producer-writer is Don Campbell; the editor is Connie Rinehart; the coordinating producer is Whitney Johnson, and the associate producer is Kyle Giddens.

For National Geographic Channels International, the exec producer is Allan Butler, while the senior VP of programming and production is Michael Cascio.

In the UK, the special will form part of Nat Geo’s ’9/11 Week,’ premiering from September 5-9 and encompassing eight hours of new programming. During the week the net will investigate not only what happened and why, but also subsequent events, including the hunt for Bin Laden.

As previously reported, Seconds From Disaster (airing September 5 at 9 p.m. GMT) focuses on the critical minutes as air traffic controllers and the U.S. air force reacted to the hijackings and attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Elsewhere, 9/11: Washington Under Attack (September 5 at 10 p.m.) tells the stories of the people of Washington DC, the other 9/11 city where a passenger jet was crashed into the Pentagon; while 9/11: Ten Years Later (September 7 at 9 p.m.) updates a doc filmed partly inside the Twin Towers by two French filmmakers in the chaos after the attacks.

The film has been updated 10 years on to tell what happened to some of the surviving firemen featured in the original film, which was simply called 9/11.

Finally, 9/11: The World’s Fallen (September 8 at 9 p.m.) looks at “the lives of those who were making a new life in America when they found themselves in the Twin Towers on the fateful day,” according to the network; while Inside 9/11: What Happened Next (September 9 at 9 p.m.) is the story of what occurred after the attacks – America’s war on terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and the secret operations to take out Al Qaeda figures.

“9/11 is a terrible milestone in world history. Ten years on we have the benefit of time to take a closer look at these unforgettable stories,” said National Geographic Channel UK general manager Simon Bohrsmann.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.