Film crews back on streets of New York after scheduling chaos

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The Independent US

Film crews were given permission yesterday to restart filming in New York by the city's Mayor in a sign that the entertainment industry can begin returning to normal after the disruption caused by the terrorist attacks.

In America, many shows have either been abandoned or undergone considerable re-editing since 11 September. Filming on the streets of Manhattan was prohibited.

British broadcasters have also been forced to rewrite their TV schedules almost every day to avoid the slightest danger of causing offence to viewers. Some of the decisions – such as the pulling of Daylight, the disaster movie set in New York – have been straightforward. Holiday Airlines, a self-explanatory fly-on-the-wall documentary programme, has been another predictable casualty. But a more unlikely victim has been an episode of Emmerdale, which was purged to remove references to flights and flights attendants. ITV has also withdrawn an episode of Rebus, the detective series starring John Hannah, because it featured a terrorist plot.

On the BBC, an episode of The Simpsons, entitled "Side Show Bob Turns Terrorist", was pulled shortly after the attacks while Drop Zone, a thriller about a killer aboard a Boeing 747, was also scrapped. A Timewatch programme on the Empire State Building was postponed last Friday.

Even the BBC's home improvement shows were monitored, with one withdrawn for featuring a New York roof garden. An episode of University Challenge was cut from the schedules after it was judged to contain "sensitive questions". The BBC has had to collate an alternative line-up because of the postponement of the Ryder Cup, the adversarial golf match between Europe and the US that had been due to begin tomorrow.

Episodes of Friends on Channel 4 have had to be edited to avoid showing the New York city skyline while West Wing has been subject to censure, with episodes making reference to terrorist plots pulled altogether. Among films to be put on ice are Collateral Damage, which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a fire fighter whose wife and child are killed when a terrorist bomb hits a Los Angeles skyscraper.

The Walt Disney comedy Big Trouble, which shows a bomb in a suitcase on a plane, has been pulled from release indefinitely. Men in Black 2 will also have to be altered because its ending takes place against the backdrop of the World Trade Centre, while the next Jackie Chan comedy, Nosebleed, which was about to go into production, will also need changes. Chan was due to play a window cleaner working at the twin towers.

Cinema-goers in Britain were surprised last weekend when film executives failed to alter the final scenes of Spielberg's futuristic AI, starring Jude Law. As the film reaches its conclusion, one of the characters is dispatched to "the end of the world" as viewers witness the vision of Manhattan crumbling and under water.

In America, where television channels are releasing details of their autumn schedules, many programmes have been cancelled or heavily edited. One new episode of Friends had to be completely re-shot because its action focused largely around an airport and its check-in procedures.

The CBS network has been forced to pull a new drama that made a direct reference to Osama bin Laden. One storyline from The Agency revolved around a bomb being planted at Harrods.

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