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Show Tells of ’72 Olympic Standoff

September 7, 2000

The Olympics lost their innocence on Sept. 5, 1972.

In the early morning, Palestinian terrorists raided the Israeli team’s dormitory at the Munich Games. After a 20-hour standoff and bungled rescue efforts, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were dead, as were five terrorists.

The horrifying story is told poignantly and graphically in ``One Day in September,″ an Oscar-winning documentary that airs Monday on HBO at 8 p.m.

The movie is well-paced, intensely riveting over its hour and a half, with an impressive collage of photos and film, some of it culled from 8-milimeter home videos. You are shepherded through the tragedy by footage of ABC Sports anchor Jim McKay and voiced reports from Peter Jennings and Howard Cosell _ the way TV viewers of the time followed the shocking events.

And the documentary, narrated by Michael Douglas, tells the full story.

There are sit-down interviews with relatives of the Israeli victims, German officials and police, journalists who were there, and _ thanks to director Kevin Macdonald’s journalistic coup _ the lone surviving Palestinian who participated in the hostage-taking.

Macdonald tracked down Jamil Al Gashey, who was 18 in 1972, in Africa, where the Palestinian has been in hiding.

It’s chilling to hear Al Gashey say, without a shred of remorse, ``I’m proud of what I did at Munich because it helped the Palestinian cause enormously.″

Producer Arthur Cohn (``The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,″ ``Dangerous Moves,″ ``Black and White in Color″) spent more than two years compiling the film clips.

``Hollywood studios thought it would not be believable and authentic if actors played it. So we made the bold decision to make the film with the personalities that were there,″ Cohn said. ``This way we got an evenhanded account. If the film has such an enormous echo, it is due to the authenticity.″

The media doesn’t always look good, from the discovery that the terrorists were alerted to a police raid on the dormitory by live coverage of the operation (dorm rooms had TVs), to an incorrect report that all the Israeli hostages had survived.

After the saga unfolds, a German government spokesman tells ABC, ``It will be forgotten after a few weeks.″ Thanks to the film, which will be released in U.S. theaters in November and on video and DVD next year, that’s unlikely to happen.

So much, particularly in recent years, has tarnished the Olympics, from drug use to bribery investigations.

Nothing, though, as wrenching as what happened on Sept. 5, 1972.


DID YOU KNOW?: When Michael Davies was 18, he went through a 30-minute interview at Oxford University, questioned by seven professors on history, law, German, Russian and other subjects.

Davies wasn’t admitted.

But the executive producer of ABC’s ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire″ has taken that format _ ``an inquisition,″ he jokes _ and created a new sports trivia show, ″2-Minute Drill.″ The show debuts Monday at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN and will also run on Thursdays starting Oct. 12.

Host Kenny Mayne, who lends a dry sense of humor, and four celebrity guests grill the contestants.

The questions, not particularly hard in the early rounds, are mostly about football, baseball and basketball, but everything from gymnastics to lacrosse is fair game.

Contestants (none of the first season’s 51 are women) are brought forth one by one to face two minutes of questioning, with doom-portending music in the background and bizarrely dimming lights. It’s eerily similar to ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.″

Davies collaborated with ``Win Ben Stein’s Money″ creator Andrew Golder for ESPN.

The network has made other, largely forgettable, forays into trivia shows _ ``The Dream League,″ ``Boardwalk and Baseball’s Super Bowl,″ ``Sports on Tap,″ ``Designated Hitter,″ ``The Perfect Match″ _ with none lasting more than two seasons.

″2-Minute Drill,″ with its fast pace, unique format, and smooth host, might be a keeper.

Davies, by the way, went to Edinburgh.

Try your hand at a bonus question, worth $5,000 (answer below):

On Sept. 9, 1969, the Miracle Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 1 1/2 games when the teams played at Shea Stadium. At the start of the game, an animal was released on to the field by a fan. The animal ran past the hitter, toward the Cubs dugout, eventually scampering under the stands. What kind of and color animal was released, who was the Cubs player at the plate when the animal ran by, and which Mets pitcher was on the mound?


BROADCAST NEWS: The New York Yankees are expected to reach a new television contract in the coming weeks. Madison Square Garden Network, owned by Cablevision, has held the team’s TV rights since 1989 as part of a $486 million agreement and would have a chance to match any offer. ... FoxSports.com is planning more webcasts after estimating 200,000 people watched Nebraska beat San Jose State last Saturday in the first college or pro football game produced and shown on a Web site directly linked to a major television network. ... Dan Marino’s debut as an analyst on HBO’s ``Inside the NFL″? He picked all 15 games correctly. ... The latest ``Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,″ opening Sept. 12 on HBO, has segments on athletes’ charitable foundations, gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.


Answer: black cat, Don Kessinger, Tom Seaver.

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