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Let's save Pvt. Ryan --again
Fortunately, Stafford TV viewers didn't have to miss a classic World War II movie on Veterans Day.

  Lee Woolf's archive
  E-mail Lee Woolf
Date published: 11/24/2004


WHO WOULD have thought when Janet Jackson bared her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show last February that she would have an impact on the celebration of Veterans Day in many American living rooms two weeks ago?

No, I'm not kidding.

Consider if you were a World War II veteran and survivor of D-Day living in Richmond. And suppose you called your family together on Veterans Day evening to watch the 1998 Academy Award-winning movie "Saving Private Ryan." But when time came to watch the film on WRIC Channel-8, you discovered that the war drama had been pre-empted by the holiday comedy, "Home Alone."

Blame it on Janet.

In the wake of Jackson's revealing halftime show at the Super Bowl, the Federal Communications Commission fined CBS-owned TV stations $550,000. So now, some ABC stations don't want to risk the same kind of federal sanction. Thus, they decided to pull "Saving Private Ryan" from the Veterans Day schedule because of its R-rating for language and violence.

That was the case with the ABC affiliate in Richmond--and also in Atlanta, Tampa, Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando, Austin, Louisville, Hampton-Norfolk and about a dozen other cities.

TV viewers in Stafford County, most of whom have access to ABC stations both north and south, could watch "Saving Private Ryan" on WJLA Channel-7 from Washington.

In case you aren't familiar with the film, it stars Tom Hanks as a captain who leads his squad across Omaha Beach on D-Day and then is ordered to go behind enemy lines on a dangerous mission to retrieve Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), the last survivor among four brothers. It is a remarkable story, well-told, but with graphic combat scenes and plenty of salty language.

According to a report in USA Today, ABC's contract with director Steven Spielberg stipulates that the film cannot be edited. ABC stations aired "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day in 2001 and 2002 without pre-emptions.

In order to put all this in perspective, I called Agnes Dunn, the instructional coordinator for social studies and history with Stafford County Public Schools.

She agreed that "Saving Private Ryan" is an excellent film.

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