PARK CITY, Utah (AP) - What had been the beginnings of a
reality-TV pilot on a New York City police squad became painfully
real for producer Dick Wolf on Sept. 11, 2001.
Creator of NBC's "Law & Order" franchise, he had a show in the
works featuring interviews and footage of a police emergency
services unit that was called into action Sept. 11 to help in the
World Trade Center rescue.
Fourteen of the 23 New York City police officers killed in the
trade-center collapse were from that unit, among them 34-year-old
Joe Vigiano, a highly decorated cop who had been shot twice on
duty. Among the 343 firefighters killed was Joe's brother, John
Vigiano Jr., 36.
After the attacks, Wolf used his footage as the basis for "Twin
Towers," a half-hour documentary playing at the Sundance Film
Festival that runs through Sunday.
"It's an amazing and horrifying coincidence that they were both
there. I think anybody who sees it comes away with an admiration
for the sacrifice this family made," said Wolf, who screened
"Twin Towers" at a Los Angeles theater late last year to qualify
for the Academy Awards and expects to land the film in commercial
theaters or on television.
"These were both really good guys, really good at their jobs.
We got to know Joe pretty well, and he was to me the kind of cop
you hoped would respond if you ever had to call the police."
The film blends pre-Sept. 11 interviews with Joe Vigiano and his
colleagues discussing the rigors of their jobs, footage of them on
crime raids and rescues, still photos and archival material of the
Vigiano brothers, and new interviews with their father, John
Vigiano Sr., a retired firefighter.
Vigiano Sr. recounts his horror on Sept. 11 as he watched events
unfold on television, realizing his sons were on the scene.
"To watch those buildings come down, I'm saying, `Oh, God.
They're in there. I know it.' There's something just telling me,
they're in there," Vigiano Sr. says.
The film presents chilling irony as Joe Vigiano relates the
tasks his unit might face, saying, "we go from being a SWAT team
one minute, next minute we could be called to a building collapse
trying to rescue people under rubble."
Wolf collaborator Bill Guttentag, a documentary filmmaker who
co-directed "Twin Towers," said the story of the Vigiano brothers
humanizes the tragedy by narrowing the focus from thousands of
victims to just a few.
"We're trying to take a very large story and present it as one
family's tragedy. Hopefully, that speaks to all of us," Guttentag
said. "The price this family paid is almost unimaginable, losing
two sons at the same time."
The film's title is a metaphor for the Vigiano brothers. Their
father notes that after the trade-center a collapse, a reporter
interviewed him and "called the boys the `twin towers.' I said,
well how fitting, because they were."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)