For Hollywood, September 2001 started out like any other September, full of film festivals, dealmaking, and the release of Oscar-bait movies. Of course, like everything else in America, the movie business was shocked and horrified by the events of 9/11 and quickly came together to respond to the tragedy.
Looking back a decade later at the events of that month, it's remarkable how quickly things returned to business as usual. Hollywood kept greenlighting the same kinds of movies, and stars kept behaving (aside from their generosity in the days after the attacks) with their usual personal abandon.
Here's a timeline of the movie news of September 2001, full of both landmark events and typical Hollywood business.
The Week of Sept. 1 - 7
• Anne Heche marries cameraman Coley Laffoon. The couple will split in 2009.
• Geena Davis marries plastic surgeon Reza Jarrahy, who is 15 years her junior. It's the fourth marriage for the 45-year-old Oscar-winner. The union will produce three children.
• Low-budget horror flick 'Jeepers Creepers' surprises with a strong $13.1 million opening to win the Labor Day weekend box office.
• Kate Winslet announces her separation from director Jim Threapleton, her husband of three years and father to their daughter, Mia.
• John Grisham's recently filmed movie 'Mickey,' starring Harry Connick Jr. as a father who enrolls his too-old son as a Little League ringer, is delayed by its similarity to the real-life scandal of overaged Little League World Series star Danny Almonte. The movie will sit on shelves for another three years before vanishing at the box office after a limited 2004 release.
• Influential New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael dies at 82.
• Mark Ruffalo has to drop out of M. Night Shyamalan's 'Signs' because of ear surgery. Joaquin Phoenix replaces him in the alien-invasion drama that will become one of 2002's biggest hits.
• The new 'Austin Powers' sequel gets a title: 'Austin Powers in Goldmember.' Mike Myers gets a reported $25 million for the third installment. The film will go on to become a big 2002 hit and launch Beyoncé's film career.
• Chicago Little League coach Bob Muzikowski unsuccessfully sues Paramount to stop the Sept. 14 release of 'Hardball,' a movie loosely based on his life, arguing that the film defames him by showing the coach (Keanu Reeves) pushing the kids and has scenes of the players using profanity -- both violations of league rules.
• George Clooney plans to reunite with his 'Peacemaker' co-star Nicole Kidman for his directorial debut, 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.' Eventually, Clooney will make the movie with Julia Roberts instead and release it at the end of 2002.
The Week of Sept. 8 - 15
• 'The Musketeer' debuts at No. 1 with $10.3 million, on its way to a total gross of $27.1 million. It defeats two fellow newcomers: the Vivica A. Fox romantic comedy 'Two Can Play That Game' and the Mark Wahlberg-Jennifer Aniston musical drama 'Rock Star.'
• Sam Rockwell signs on to play the lead role in George Clooney's 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.'
• Keanu Reeves tells the press at the Toronto Film Festival that he appeared in the previous year's serial killer thriller 'The Watcher' only because a friend forged his signature on the contract.
• In the wake of the morning's terrorist attacks, most of show business grinds to a halt. In Los Angeles, movie production shuts down. In New York, entertainment companies' corporate headquarters are evacuated. Movie theaters throughout the nation shut down. The Union Square cineplex in downtown Manhattan becomes an ad hoc shelter.
• The Toronto Film Festival cancels all of the day's planned screenings. Celebrities there to promote their films are stranded as North American airports shut down.
• Studios start rethinking the releases of completed films with potentially insensitive content. Disney's 'Big Trouble,' a comedy that involves the smuggling of a nuclear bomb aboard a jetliner, gets pushed back from Sept. 21 to an indefinite date in 2002, and its press junket is canceled. Warner Bros. delays the scheduled October 5 release of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Collateral Damage,' involving the destruction of a skyscraper by terrorists, until the following year, and the studio takes the movie's website offline. Sony yanks the trailer for 2002's 'Spider-Man,' which contains footage of Spidey using a giant web to trap a helicopter between the tops of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
• Independent film companies housed in lower Manhattan, including Miramax, Artisan, and Good Machine, remain shut down and inaccessible.
• Paramount Classics decides to postpone the scheduled September 21 release of 'Sidewalks of New York,' Edward Burns' suddenly frivolous Manhattan romantic comedy.
• Entertainment conglomerates, including AOL Time Warner, News Corporation (parent of 20th Century Fox), Disney, and Viacom (parent of Paramount), pledge millions of dollars in aid to families of emergency workers who responded at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Screen Actors Guild pledges $50,000 to the first responders' families.
• Sony revises plans for shooting the climax of 'Men In Black 2,' which was to have taken place at the World Trade Center. The new climax will take place at the Chrysler Building and will require changes only to the green-screen background in post-production.
• DreamWorks decides not to postpone the October release of 'The Last Castle,' about an uprising at a military prison, but it pulls ads showing the American flag flying upside-down as a distress signal.
• Oscar-nominated actress Dorothy McGuire ('Gentleman's Agreement') dies at 85.
• 'Hardball' and 'The Glass House' are released as scheduled. Prints had been shipped to theaters before the terrorist attacks halted all air travel.
• Though Robert De Niro's restaurants and production company, housed in TriBeCa (just north of the World Trade Center), have been shuttered all week, he gets his chefs, along with other top New York restaurateurs, to organize a food drive for relief workers, ferrying 500 meals at a time by boat to lower Manhattan. Months later, De Niro will help revitalize the economically devastated neighborhood and its many independent film companies by launching the Tribeca
Film Festival, which is now gearing up for its 11th edition next spring.
•'The Time Machine' gets an indefinite postponement, due to scenes involving the destruction of New York by fragments of the exploded moon raining down on the city.
• Julie Andrews, Mira Sorvino, Anthony LaPaglia, and Barbara Hershey drop out of scheduled appearances at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival. Andrews, who was to have received a lifetime achievement award, says it would be insensitive to celebrate herself "while the entire world is mourning."
The Week of Sept. 16 - 22
• 'Hardball' grosses just $9.4 million at the box office, but that's enough to win on a weekend when no one feels much like going to the movies. The sports drama eventually earns $40.2 million. Debuting in second place, thriller 'The Glass House' earns $5.7 million, on its way toward an $18.0 million gross.
• Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and Jim Carrey are the first movie stars to sign on to an all-star relief telethon scheduled for Sept. 21.
• New York City begins issuing film permits for Manhattan again, now that borough police who were busy at Ground Zero are freed up to watch over movie shoots.
• Another film postponed over imagery is indie drama 'People I Know,' which contains a shot of the World Trade Center towers on their sides, as seen through the perspective of a woozy Manhattan publicist (Al Pacino). Director Dan Algrant's home and editing room, both in Lower Manhattan, have been inaccessible since the attacks. The film eventually is released in the U.S. in 2003.
• The Oscar ceremony is supposed to move to the new Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in 2002, but the Academy threatens to keep it at the Shrine Auditorium unless the mall where the new theater is located agrees to beef up security, including a bomb sweep on the day of the show.
• Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, and Robin Williams sign on for the weekend's TV telethon, now dubbed 'America: A Tribute to Heroes.'
• Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels phones President George W. Bush and offers the services of movie stars in whatever way the White House sees fit. The union says that the call is "warmly received" and that the administration may enlist stars for personal appearances, public service announcements, and fundraisers. Other outreach efforts between the administration and Hollywood will follow over the next few months, but little will come of them beyond a TV movie, 'DC 9/11: Time of Crisis,' which critics will argue paints the Bush administration's reaction to the attacks in far too rosy a light.
• Jim Carrey pledges $1 million to the families of the victims.
• Disney postpones the Christmastime release of action comedy 'Bad Company,' in which spies Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock must thwart terrorists threatening to blow up lower Manhattan with a nuclear bomb. The film flops when released in summer 2002.
• Indie distributor Lot 47 postpones the U.S. release of Canadian dark comedy 'Waydowntown,' which includes a fantasy scene of bodies plummeting from an office tower. The film gets released in a handful of theaters in early 2002.
* Hollywood studios go on lockdown after the FBI alerts them to a possible terrorist threat in response to any potential U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. On the studio lots, tours and screenings are canceled, audiences for TV tapings are sent home, all packages are X-rayed, metal detectors are installed, and armed guards are posted. Nervous employees at Universal and Sony go home. The threat never materializes.
• Movie stars added to the roster for 'America: A Tribute to Heroes' include John Cusack, Danny DeVito, Goldie Hawn, Salma Hayek, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Meg Ryan, Adam Sandler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lucy Liu, and Sylvester Stallone. Some will make on-air fundraising appeals; others simply volunteer to man the phone banks and take pledge donations.
• Postponed by nine months is the September shoot for the Jennifer Lopez thriller 'Tick-Tock,' in which she is to play an FBI agent who must find a series of ticking terrorist time bombs placed throughout Los Angeles. As it turns out, Lopez will never make the movie.
• 'America: A Tribute to Heroes' attracts as many as 89 million viewers and raises $200 million for the United Way's September 11 Telethon Fund. It provides the model for ad hoc disaster relief telethons throughout the next decade. One of the telethon stars, Julia Roberts, pledges $2 million of her own money.
• The Academy settles its security dispute with the Hollywood & Highland mall, allowing the Oscar ceremony to move to the new Kodak Theatre in 2002 as scheduled. The Academy Awards are still held there to this day.
• Director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose movies 'Big Trouble' and 'Men in Black 2' were both affected by the attacks, says he has no idea how 9/11 will change film. "Anyone who says they know what will happen with Hollywood is wrong," he tells TV Guide.
The Week of Sept. 22 - 31
• 'Hardball' remains the No. 1 movie at the box office, earning another $8.1 million.
• Mariah Carey's musical 'Glitter' becomes one of the most notorious flops of recent years, opening at No. 11 and grossing just $2.4 million on its way to a total haul of just $4.3 million.
• Chris Rock and Jamie Foxx are among the performers who offer their services to the USO, should they be called upon to entertain American troops fighting abroad. Over the next decade, with Americans fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, there will be many such USO tours involving a broad spectrum of stars.
• Greenlit movies include romantic comedy 'Deliver Us From Eva,' starring LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union, and action movie/spy thriller 'xXx,' starring Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson. 'Eva' makes barely a ripple at the box office in 2003, but 'xXx' becomes a blockbuster hit in summer 2002 and spawns a sequel.
• Arnold Schwarzenegger sues a gaming company for $20 million over a line of 'Terminator'-themed slot machines using the star's image without his permission.
• Both Sandra Bullock and the Academy make $1 million pledges to relief efforts.
• Paul McCartney announces plans for an all-star fundraiser at Madison Square Garden, to be telecast live on Oct. 20, called 'The Concert for New York City.' Among the movie stars scheduled to appear are Jim Carrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John Cusack. McCartney commissions legendary documentarian Albert Maysles -- who co-directed 'What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA,' a chronicle of the band's triumphant arrival in New York in 1964 -- to follow him around the city again as he prepares for the benefit. The show turns out to be a rousing success and raises $35 million, but Maysles' footage goes unseen by the public until September 2011, when the finished film, 'The Love We Make,' debuts on Showtime.
• Blockbuster video stores start labeling recent releases thought to have content that viewers might consider disturbing following 9/11. The first film labeled is the explosion-filled 2001 thriller 'Swordfish.' The video chain also cuts its order for copies of the film by 30 percent. There's no label for older movies that touch on terrorism, like 'Die Hard' and 'The Siege,' which become popular rentals in the wake of the attacks.
• Angelina Jolie donates $1 million to a United Nations fund targeted toward Afghan refugees. In July, she'd visited Afghan exiles in refugee camps in Pakistan, camps whose ranks would likely swell if the U.S. were to attack Afghanistan. For years to come, Jolie's movie career and her philanthropy in humanitarian crisis zones and her movie career would run on parallel tracks. In 2007, she'd earn acclaim for 'A Mighty Heart,' playing Mariane Pearl, widow of journalist Daniel Pearl, captured and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002.
• Ben Stiller's 'Zoolander' becomes the first film altered because of 9/11 to reach theaters; the twin towers had been digitally scrubbed from shots of the New York skyline that included the World Trade Center.
• MGM bumps Nicolas Cage's World War II drama 'Windtalkers' from November to summer 2002 out of fear that moviegoers won't want to see a war movie, or that another barrage of nonstop TV emergency news coverage could spoil the film's expensive ad campaign.
• Richard Gere lands the male lead, opposite Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, in 'Chicago.' The Broadway musical adaptation is released in 2002 and wins several Oscars, including Best Picture.
• Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver donate $1 million to the Twin Towers Fund, benefiting families of emergency workers.
• 'Don't Say a Word,' a creepy kidnapping thriller starring Brittany Murphy and Michael Douglas, debuts at No. 1 with $17.1 million. Over the course of its run, it earns $55.0 million and becomes one of the biggest hits of Murphy's career.
• 'Zoolander' opens in second place with a solid $15.5 million. Eventually, Ben Stiller's fashion-world satire earns $45.2 million and becomes a cult favorite.
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman
'Hardball,' 'Glitter' and 'Zoolander' photos courtesy of Everett. 9/11 and Oscars photos courtesy of AFP/Getty Images. Robert De Niro and Paul McCartney photos courtesy of Getty. Jim Carrey photo courtesy of AP.