In the latest case of a show hitting way too close to home, CBS has pulled yet another episode of its new CIA series The Agency after its plot involved U.S. efforts to deal with the threat of anthrax.
The episode was originally scheduled to air last Thursday, but it was bumped from the schedule because of President Bush's prime-time press conference. It was rescheduled for this Thursday, and CBS had begun airing promotional teasers about the upcoming episode.
But with anthrax exposures now being found in other areas of the country, including Washington, D.C., Florida, New York and Nevada, the network decided Monday to pull the episode again.
"With the additional cases that popped up, we just felt we didn't want to do anything that would add to the current fears," a CBS spokeswoman says.
Airing in its place will be an episode titled "The Year of Lying Dangerously," revolving around a group of American miners who are taken hostage in Indonesia while a local governor plots a political coup.
Since its September 27 debut, the show, starring Gil Bellows, has been largely overshadowed by ER on Thursday nights. But you can't accuse the series of not being timely. Following September 11, CBS also pulled The Agency's pilot episode, which revolved around a terrorist plot to bomb Harrods department store in London.
The episode, which also included a reference to Osama bin Laden, has been shelved and may get retooled for a future airing.
Either way, it appears director Wolfgang Petersen (In the Line of Fire, The Perfect Storm) has gotten his wish. Petersen, The Agency's executive producer, previously told Daily Variety that it was key for a show about the CIA to reflect real-world events.
"Instead of walking away from it, we'll get into it," Petersen said. "That's what [the CIA] is dealing with."
At least for now, however, Hollywood's version of the CIA is keeping a safe distance.
Meanwhile, more shows are busy churning out their own Very Special Episodes following the September 11 attacks. According to USA Today, Fox's Ally McBeal is planning a Christmas episode written by David E. Kelley about a Massachusetts town official who argues that a holiday parade isn't appropriate following a tragedy that costs the lives of local firefighters.
Later this fall, another Kelley series, The Practice, will have its law firm representing an Arab-American who claims he has being unfairly held as a material witness in a fictional terrorist act. And CBS' The Guardian will have a December episode about a Middle Eastern family in Pittsburgh whose restaurant is vandalized by a white kid.