Spike Lee’s new edit of the final chapter of his sprawling, four-episode HBO documentary has removed footage featuring September 11 conspiracy theories, as The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets have reported. The eighth chapter (which is the second and last part of episode four) is now 30 minutes shorter.
Early reports said that the show featured theories about disputed causes of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings; earlier in “NYC Epicenters,” there is also presented a conspiracy theory about Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers took the plane back from hijackers. But the theory posits the plane was actually shot down. That part of the episode remains.
The re-edited part four comes mere days after Lee came under fire following a New York Times interview, wherein he defended including the sorts of conspiracy theories proposed by members of the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.
“I mean, I got questions. And I hope that maybe the legacy of this documentary is that Congress holds a hearing, a congressional hearing about 9/11,” Lee said in the interview.
“The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature’s not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground — when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it’s like you’re looking at the same thing,” Lee said. “But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.”
On August 25, with screeners already delivered to critics for review, an HBO press release went out to critics with this note from Lee himself: “I’m Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½. I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgement Until You See The FINAL CUT.”
Ronald Hamburger, who conducted the FEMA investigation of the collapse of the towers, separately told The New York Times, “I did get the understanding in my discussions with [Lee] that he wanted to give them credence” with regards to the conspiracy theories.