By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Sep 09, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Moments after the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I had turned on five VCRs in my house, recording the cable channels and as many of the networks as I could.

I watched intently for days, maybe a couple weeks, as part of my job – then with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But all of us who were adults at the time watched the coverage more intently than we usually watch the news.

We watched members of Congress, ending that long, terrible day, by joining together, Democrats and Republicans, to sing "God Bless America."

We watched as President George W. Bush spoke from his heart, from the still-smoldering rubble at Ground Zero, a couple days after the attacks.

Other than these two images, I don't know what else I need to remember in the flood of reminiscences up and down the TV dial this weekend.

These two hopeful moments, one of Congressional unity and one of a president, who, briefly, was the president of a united country.

We know what happened in the decade that followed, wars and economic nightmares that helped increase the political polarization that had already existed.

The stories of individual heroism in the wake of the attacks, as noble as they may be, or the tears of survivors, as tragic as they may be, do not teach us about what happened on that day. They may tell us about humanity and its need to survive – or remember – but they are merely the stories of daily life magnified by their connection to history.

Television is obsessed with anniversaries, and this one is the biggest anniversary since Nov. 22, 1963. So nobody's passing up a chance to mark the day – even Animal Planet, which aired a documentary this week people bonding with animals after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But I can't say I'll be tuning in to much of the coverage.

I have my own memories of Sept. 11, which came streaming out of my television.

For me, a symbolic end of that terrible period came with "America: A Tribute to Heroes," the fundraiser that aired just 10 days after the attacks.

Here's one of the memorable performances from that stark, sad telethon:

This isn't to criticize the sincerity of the individual specials and their attempts to humanize this story. It's what journalism does these days, take a big story and focus on individuals and how that big story affected them.

But we're all still affected by this one. And I choose to ponder it on my own, without the plinky piano music that's sure to accompany more than one of these sad tales.

On TV: Sept. 11 won't be the focus of everything on TV Sunday. HBO airs the season finales of "True Blood" at 8 p.m. and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" at 9:05, followed by the series finale of "Entourage" at 9:35.

  • ESPN's "Monday Night Football" deal with the NFL has been renewed through 2021.
  • Elkhorn's Smage brothers stunt motorcyclist team didn't make it into the finals on NBC's "America's Got Talent," getting bumped by viewer votes on Wednesday night's results show.
  • The effort by Channel 12, WKLH-FM (96.5) and Clear Channel Outdoor to help out the Wisconsin Humane Society has raised $100,000 and found homes for 1,000 pets.

Another movie added to the Milwaukee Film Festival: A couple weeks before the launch of this year's Milwaukee Film Festival, it has added "Coriolanus" to its lineup.

The modern-day take on Shakespeare's story stars and is directed by Ralph Fiennes. It premieres at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Marcus North Shore Cinema.

The festival has opened its ticket office at the Oriental Theatre, and tickets are also available online and by calling (414) 727-8468 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

Here's the trailer for "Coriolanus":

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.