Rudolph Giuliani: The Movie?

A film company has bought rights to make a movie about Rudolph Giuliani movie. Troops will stay in New York until May. The comment period for the Sept. 11 victims' fund closes with criticism. The cleanup of Ground Zero is ahead of schedule, and costing much less than expected.

Film Company Buys Rights to Giuliani Bio

N E W Y O R K, Jan. 23 — An independent film company has purchased the rights to an unauthorized biography of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for a television movie.

Five Mile River Films of Norwalk, Conn., bought the screen rights to Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City by New York 1 political correspondent Andrew Kirtzman for an undisclosed amount.

"We just closed the deal; we are putting it together," said Lorenzo Minoli, the film company's co-producer.

Minoli, who spoke from Italy where he is filming Julius Caesar for TNT, said there was wide appeal in Europe for a movie about the former mayor.

"He's very famous in Europe. There's a big interest in the movie in Europe," Minoli said.

Co-producer Russell Kagan, reached in Las Vegas, said: "We specialize in what is called event movies. Our movies get widely distributed throughout the world, and they are dubbed in various languages."

He said the film, expected to be aired later this year, would be released around the world within a month or two of the U.S. release.

Asked if Giuliani would be involved in the production, Minoli said: "We are starting our work. If he wants to be involved, he will be more than welcome."

Added Kagan: "Between Andrew's experience with the mayor and others we have access to, we will have quality information to get the script right."

A call to Giuliani for comment was not immediately returned.

Kirtzman was with Giuliani on the morning of Sept. 11 as the then-mayor searched for a location for an emergency command center. He updated the book, published in 2000, with a final chapter about the terrorist attacks.

The news of a television movie on Giuliani's tenure as mayor was first reported Tuesday in the showbiz publication Variety.

Some actors who have been mentioned for the role of Giuliani include Robert Duvall, Daniel Travanti and James Woods.

The film company has produced a number of biographical miniseries movies for television, especially on biblical figures, including Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus.

Kirtzman did not immediately return a call for comment.

— The Associated Press

Soldiers Will Stay in New York Until May

A L B A N Y, N.Y., Jan. 23 — Hundreds of New York National Guard soldiers will remain on active duty in New York City at least until the end of April.

That's the word from state officials overseeing counterterrorism measures after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

James Kallstrom, director of the state Office of Public Safety, says nearly 1,000 National Guard troops will have their active duty status extended until at least April 29.

The troops will continue to patrol New York City's bridges, tunnels and train stations to guard against possible terrorist attacks.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, New York's Division of Military and Naval Affairs has activated about 10,000 troops for duty. The soldiers have been guarding airports, nuclear power plants and other facilities.

— The Associated Press

Criticism Ends Comments on Victims' Fund

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 23 — Most of the nearly 1,700 comments received by the government's Sept. 11 victims compensation fund tell of families' pain as they struggle to cope and complain that the federal fund is too stingy.

But while many families are pressing for more money, another sentiment is beginning to surface in the written comments.

"What dollar amount WOULD be enough for them?" read one letter. "These families are embarrassing themselves."

The monthlong public comment period for the victims compensation fund closed on Tuesday.

The fund's special master, Kenneth Feinberg, whose interim rules have drawn fire from families, victims and elected officials, is expected to issue final regulations governing the fund in early February.

Some of the comments are filled with legal jargon. Others are emotionally raw.

"Close your eyes and imagine. Every day of your life from now on … you will watch the horror of those two buildings collapsing," read one comment. "Now imagine you know your child is in one of those buildings as you watch them tumble to the ground. … What is just compensation for me for this?"

Names aren't included on the Justice Department Web site where the comments are posted.

Feinberg has estimated that the awards to cover lost wages, pain and suffering would average $1.6 million. But he said he will have discretion to increase awards and those unhappy with their award may appeal to him.

Among the provisions drawing criticism:

Family members with substantial pensions, like the survivors of firefighters and police officers, say they could receive nothing at all from the government fund because the award must be offset by life insurance and pensions.

The award is calculated on an income cap of $240,000, which would exclude all pay above that amount. Jobs held by the victims ranged from low-paying janitors to wealthy bond traders whose income was measured in the millions.

Some gay partners could be excluded by state laws or shortchanged because they would be treated as singles.

Those injured in the attacks must have sought medical attention by noon on Sept. 12 to qualify.

New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., are among those calling for revisions to the rules.

Feinberg, a Georgetown University law professor appointed by President Bush to oversee the fund, said he will take public opinion into account as he makes changes to the draft rules.

More than 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, but only 174 survivors have filed claims with the fund. They have two years to apply.

The fund was created as part of a $15 billion airline bailout package passed by Congress soon after the attacks. Families who apply for an award from the fund must give up their right to sue the airlines and other entities.

"Unless these rules change, the courts are going to be pretty busy," said Bill Doyle, whose 25-year-old son Joseph was killed in the World Trade Center collapse.

The minimum award is a $250,000 before deductions. An additional $50,000 is added for each surviving dependent. Another portion of the award is based on the victim's income and earning potential.

— The Associated Press

Ground Zero Cleanup Ahead of Schedule N E W Y O R K, Jan. 23 — The once-daunting job of whittling away at the World Trade Center's ruins was supposed to take a year and run as much as $7 billion, but workers now expect to remove the last of the rubble by summer at a cost estimated to be closer to $1 billion.

The city and work crews say the cleanup has gone faster than expected due to longer shifts and a prevailing attitude that victims' families deserve their relentless labor. Workers also credit the speedy progress to a mild winter.

Still, they must pick through the debris 24 hours a day — sometimes in snow and rain.

"Don't anybody fall down, don't anybody get hurt tonight," cautioned a fire chief as a recent night shift began. The temperature dipped below 30 degrees on this evening, as crews worked in what would have been the area underneath the Marriott World Trade Center. Above their heads was the gaping mouth of a subway tunnel.

Scattered among unrecognizable debris were mundane and oddly untouched office items — a box of ball point pens, some spilling out, leaking blue ink into the ashy dirt. Papers peeked out of red file folders, flapping in the chilly breeze. A pink invoice from a 16th floor office listed a payment for $193.26.

Since the recovery effort began underground last month, workers have toiled in the pit that once was the trade center's seven-story basement. Hundreds of trucks carry rubble out of the crater each day, more than 1 million tons in all now.

The job has entered its final phase as crews lay the foundation for a 500-foot-long metal ramp along the western edge of the pit to replace the two that are now on site — ramps made out of debris and topped with dirt.

The debris "presumably contains remains," said Kenneth Holden, commissioner of the city's Design and Development Corporation.

After the cleanup shifted to areas below the fallen twin towers, pockets of victims' remains were found, many in stairwells and other spots that were partially protected as steel beams fell like pickup sticks.

At the foot of one of the muddy ramps, giant orange excavators claw through the ruins, setting down piles for firefighters to pick through with hand tools as they search for remains. Of the nearly 2,900 victims, 684 have been matched to remains by the medical examiner.

During the next five months, Holden said, the biggest challenge will be coordinating the many operations beginning to creep back into the area, such as the transit authority's work to rebuild a damaged subway tunnel. Above ground, the developer who holds the lease on the property wants to build a group of smaller structures and a memorial to the victims.

"As the site gets considered to be less and less a disaster area, and more and more a reconstruction area, what's happening is more and more people want to move back — which is great, as it should be," Holden said.

— The Associated Press