History to retell Sept. 11, WWII

New projects will present events with a fresh take

Cable network History is retelling the stories of two landmark events in America's past -- World War II and Sept. 11 -- from a fresh perspective.

The network has greenlighted a 10-part series, "WW II HD," for 2009 that will make use of 3,000 hours of restored color archival footage and hundreds of pages of unpublished diaries and journals to create what History said will be one of its most ambitious projects ever.

Meanwhile, the network has culled together amateur and professional footage shot on Sept. 11 for "102 Minutes That Changed America," a 102-minute special that will retell the events of that morning in real time.

"WW II HD," which History said will be "visually astonishing," will follow the experiences of a handful of men as their paths cross throughout the war. Their own words will be read by known talent, though the names will be announced at a later date. The goal is to present the events of the war "not as detached historical facts but rather as profound experiences on the level of a great Hollywood epic," the network said.

"This is History at its core," executive vp and GM Nancy Dubuc said. "We are committed to preserving our heritage, and the remarkable digital technology of 'WW II HD' will go a long way in ensuring that we never forget the sacrifice made by the Greatest Generation."

The series, executive produced by Lou Reda and Scott Reda, also will blend contemporary HD footage as well as a 5.1 Dolby "soundscape" to "help create an experience that is clearer and more immediate than anything ever before seen on World War II." In addition, History will incorporate original Library of Congress audio recordings from the war into the series as part of their recently formed multimedia partnership.

"102 Minutes," premiering without commercial interruption at 9 p.m. Sept. 11, will feature footage from more than 100 individual sources pieced together in chronological order, without narration, to provide what History is calling a "seamless historical record of that day," from bewilderment and confusion to comprehension of what was taking place.

For example, the videographers include two confused, terrified New York University seniors in a high-rise dormitory just blocks from the World Trade Center who started shooting the smoking North Tower after it was hit by the first plane and then captured the second plane hitting the South Tower.