Email From Viewers
The following were written to
James Ronald Whitney
- 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
My wife and I had the privilege last night of watching your documentary Telling Nicholas on HBO. Your documentary was so heart breaking and powerful, while still being sensitive and tasteful. The story of this poor young boy and his family brought me to tears for several different reasons.

I worked in the World Trade Centers for Marsh and McLennan on the 94th Floor. I was fortunate to be out of the office that day, but most of my co-workers were not. I lost many friends that day, that had husbands, wives and children. One of my closest co-workers left behind his wife, 3 year old son, and 4 month old baby. I was always haunted by how my friends widow would now explain or rationalize the fact that their father were never coming home again.

I'm also awaiting my first child in November. While watching your documentary I thought to myself how either I or my wife would ever explain something to our child if we were not to come home. I applaud the efforts of Nicholas' father and family in their attempts to explain the fact that his mother was missing and passed away. You captured the raw emotion of each of the family members so strongly that I felt as if I knew the family and were suffering their loss.

September 11, 2001 was a tragedy in its truest form. Nothing of this nature could have ever been imagined or comprehended. I still have nightmares most nights thinking about the tragic loss of life that day and the horrible devastation that was caused. I want to thank you for showing how Nicholas exemplified the resilience of children. I just wish we all could have the courage and strength that little boy has. We all know that he will suffer everyday for the loss of his mother, but in the end, I feel strongly that he will be OK.

Thank you for having the courage and fortitude to document this families tragedy. I think every person who watched the documentary will be touched in a way like never before. Your depiction of that weeks events were unfolding in thousands of homes across the country.

I hope you receive the highest of accolades possible for your documentary. You have performed a remarkable service for a totally unjustifiable event.
blue line
I sat glued to my television last night, mesmerized by the elegance in which you told the story of little Nicholas. The magnitude of September 11 is intensely painful. I live about as far from ground zero as one can get - Phoenix, AZ. Yet, the repercussions of the event strike me as closely as they can. While my wife, who is expecting our first child, and I sat on our living room couch, in our new home, with the air conditioning keeping us at our utmost comfort level, we both realized how much we take for granted. We have it all. We don't have the worries and the pain that Nicholas and his family have to now endure. We don't have the grief of losing our family members in such a painfully abrupt way. Yet, I still felt empty. I still felt like I was sitting on those steps watching Nicholas' heart sink. Yet, I felt renewed. I felt like the relationship between Nicholas and Thanbir refilled my heart and made me want to go on in celebration of humanity. So much was lost that day, and yet so much will be gained. I can't thank you enough for bringing that story into my life. As I sat still, consumed by grief and tears as little Nicholas uttered his closing words, "Nicholas Lanza, signing off..." I gained a powerful love for my family and those I love around me - a love that comes from a place so deep, I never knew it existed. So, thank you - it is all I can say.
blue line
Upon seeing "Telling Nicholas" last night on HBO, I felt compelled to write you. (I will preface that I've never written to anyone about anything re TV, film, music, publication, etc., pls forgive me if I'm redundant). I wanted to extend my tremendous gratitude and appreciation for the most moving documentary I've ever seen.

As a NY'kr who lived through 9/11, I was fortunate not to lose anyone close to me. (There was a brief half hour of not knowing if my mother was in Windows of the World, (her client), but that's it, she was ok and those I knew got out safely). In all honesty, I feel that I never truly grasped the severity of how many people where emotionally destroyed and changed forever (for the worst). I couldn't feel loss. I wanted to hurt and feel the utter catastrophe that the thousands of families felt but I couldn't. The walks through downtown, the flyers of missing people, vigils at the firehouses, volunteering at the Salvation Army. I did it all, but still, I just couldn't "feel" it the way I thought I should. It didn't sink in or I wouldn't let it. I don't know. Time passed and like many who weren't directly affected, I put it behind me as a terrible tragedy that didn't really pertain to me and my life.

However, watching your documentary changed that. You brought it all out of me. Everything I thought and felt about that day became emotionally clear to me. I cried my eyes out during, after and now. What an amazing job you did, bringing the reality of those who really lost to those who could only sympathize like myself. The contrasts btwn the two boys who lost parents was spectacular. The turmoil in Nicholas's family, the blame, the guilt, the desperation, the pain of the grandmother and helpless sisters and finally the talk btwn dad and Nicholas. I could never have fathomed all these situations without you. Just thinking about it turned me inside me out.

I can't thank you enough for bringing clarity to what happened. I'm most certain many other's feel the same.
Once again,
Thank you
blue line
What an utterly fantastic film!!!! I was unsure whether I wanted to see more about 9/11, but was mesmerized from the beginning and could not leave the set. How effortlessly it seemed you wove the stories of the two families together, interspersed with vignettes of the other people who died. I found almost every character fascinating. I am not a weeper, but the scene at the end with the grandparents and the Bangladeshi boy made me cry. A beautiful portrait of many people, including yourself; your own character was subtle and non-intrusive (and at the beginning fascinating).
Best, Gregory
blue line
I was completely taken by surprise by the unbelievable quality and sophistication of your film last nite..I cannot believe how you conveyed so many levels of our humanity...including, intolerance, love, ignorance, sadness, loss, grief and denial. I also respected the way that you dealt with the sensitive nature of the father-child telling at the end.....

It was an amazing film and it made me want to learn more about your company..and you as a very self aware and clearly actualized and sensitive person.

Anyway, I hope as many people were as touched as I was, ironically our intern Jules at one of my other posts last summer made the documentary on the Fireman during September 11th which also went to HBO.

You have touched a really import nerve and captured not only the generous spirit of this critical period in time, but also the painful light of so many larger issues.
blue line
I know you are getting hundreds of e-mails this morning. I just wanted to thank you for making "Telling Nicholas". I have NEVER been so moved by a film in all my life. I felt the pain of the family and especially with Nicholas. My dad died when I was 10, so I felt every bit of hurt that child was going through when his Dad told him. Having Dr. Gilda their must have helped tremendously. I wish she would have been there when my dad died. Please keep making these kind of films instead of most of the disposable nonsense that is out there now.
blue line

My Name is Tracey and I live in southern New Jersey. It is 11:39pm on Sunday and I just finished watching your HBO special. After wiping away many tears I had to find a way to contact you. I did not have any direct contact with anyone lost on september 11, 2001, but I feel the loss! I have taken the tragedy of 9/11 harder then I ever had imagined. Watching your film gave me some peace. Watching a 7 year old boy comfort his father, and grandparents was amazing and I would like for you to extend my love and prayers to him and his family. Right now I feel as if I am not making much sense, but its how I feel and I am just typing! I have a degree in film and I have always loved writing since I was a child! Sometimes the entertainment industry can make you angry and ashamed but tonight I am proud to have such a love and passion for story telling because of someone like you! I thank you and god bless you
Much thanks and love
Ps-i would like to know if it is possible for my to get a copy of tonight's hbo special. Please let me know how i might do that. I have collected many things from this tragedy in hopes to one day show my children what 9/11 meant to me and the people around me. Your documentary would be a great addition to my collection.

blue line
Nice job on the Nicholas piece. While I didn't lose anyone directly, I felt like I could identify.
Thanks again,
blue line
Hi. I just finished watching your¾documentary of 911 and little Nicholas and felt the need to contact you and thank you. My eyes were filled with tears throughout it and I couldn't help but feel their pain. It is impossible to know how the loved ones of the many victims felt but you were able to show the world the a glimpse of the sadness and sorrow that these families encountered.¾¾Your film was remarkable. I personally did not know anyone involved in the events of 911 but my heart goes out you for loss of your friends and to all the families and friends of the many lost on that tragic day. Hopefully we will never have to experience this pain again as a country.¾

Thank you again and my best to you in your¾future endeavors.
Your work is truly beautiful!
blue line
I watched your documentary called "Telling Nicholas" last night. I thought you did an outstanding job and I just wanted you to know that. How is Michele's sister Cindy doing by the way?? I cried my eyes out when the father told Nicholas about his mother. As a mom of 4 children (ages 3-9) I know how hard that can be. I lost my father to a heart attach in January 2002¾and my husband lost his father in April 2002 of a heart attack also. Telling the children is difficult and trying to answer their questions can be even harder. Thumbs up to you for bringing Dr. Gilda along.
Again, great job!!!!!
blue line
I just finished watching "Telling Nicholas". This was one of the most compassionate and heart breaking shows I've ever watched. I was in tears for most of the 90 minutes.
Thank you so much for giving us this story.
blue line
Fantastic job on "Telling Nicholas"! I saw the trailer on HBO last Sunday and figured this was some guy out to capitalize on 9/11. After viewing it, I must say it was VERY well done. Really gave the events of September 11th a human face. I can't say enough... it was great.
Thank you.
blue line
I hope you don't mind me contacting you this way, I did an internet search to find you. I just finished watching Telling Nicholas and just felt like I had to reach out, say something, I don't really know exactly. My name is Shelly, I'm 33, and I live in a small coastal town called Biloxi, it's in Mississippi. I have to be honest, living in the south, especially the deep south, is like living in another world, completely detached from what's going on globally, and on Sept. 11, that's exactly how I felt. Of course I watched everything unfold on t.v. as did the rest of the world. I was shocked and confused, empathic to those in New York, but after the day wore on and the news reports began repeating themselves, life down here kept on rolling. In the days that past, Mr. Guiliani was busy telling New York to get back to business, life down here never stopped. It was real, but not quite. Liken the situation to WW I, we all know that it happened but it's not quite real to us. Of course there was a show of patriotism with more American flags fl ying and being the deep south, many more rebel (confederate) flags flying, yet it still wasn't quite real. We remained somewhat untouched by it all - I remained somewhat untouched by it all. That changed when I saw your movie. I sat and watched with tears running down my face, holding my sleeping 4 yr. old on my lap. Having lost my mother at 17 and a child at 26, I felt the pain and agony of Michelle's family and the Ahmed family. Suddenly I knew. I understood the horror that took place in that mythical city, so large, so full of everything, and so far away from me. About two weeks ago, I decided that I was going to sell the wedding rings from my dissolved marriage and take my son to New York over Christmas. There we could ice skate in Rockerfeller Center, go to museums to see dinosaur bones and Picassos. He could see things there that he'd never see down here such as snow. I want him to experience FAO Schwartz while it's still magical. I also want to take him as close to ground zero as we can get so that he and I can both witness the aftermath of the event that changed the world and the lives of so many people. Before your movie, I would have said I was going there out of some sort of morbid fascination. Now, because of your movie, I'm going to make it real, so that I nor my child never forgets. And, when we get there, I will carry two white roses, to pay my respect for the two people that died, Michelle Lanza, and Mr. Ahmed, and for their families who let me be a voyeur to their extreme pain. It was through their pain that Sept. 11 finally became real. Thank you.
blue line

I just finished watching your special documentary about "9/11". I thought it was awesome and you have captured the document real well. I admired the fact that you included one of the muslim's family in the movie. It showed that the blame of the tragedy is not to the middle eastern people but to the individuals.

I just want to wish you good luck for making more successful films in near future and I am looking forward to see it.¾

blue line
I just watched your film "Telling Nicholas" and I wanted to thank you. As heartbreaking as the story was, it needed to be told. It came at a time for me where I have gone on with my life as usual I needed to be reminded of all of those who can not go on and whose lives will never be the same. My life is so full, so wonderful and I am just so happy. When I see something like this it makes me appreciate what I have and I do not ever want to forget what happened that day or forget the people who have lost so much.

I have pms so I don't know if that is why your film affected me so deeply, but I have been bawling for the past hour. That little boy is so adorable and all I could think of was having to tell any of my nieces or nephews that their mommy wasn't coming home. Knowing that there were 10,000 more Nicholas's out there is just too much to bear.
Thanks again, I'll look for more of your work in the future.
blue line
I attended the showing of "Telling Nicholas" at the Tribeca Film Festival this past Friday. I want to thank you (and, of course, the families of Nicholas and Thanbir) for putting the most private tragedy of thousands of families into words and pictures for millions of people.¾Even though¾it was a difficult film¾for me to watch,¾I¾called many of my friends and neighbors afterwards to recommend they watch the film on HBO.

On September 11, I¾lived 1 block from the WTC on John St. & Broadway.¾While I also had a¾Day 1, 2, and on through Day 10,¾they were¾very different from the 10 days I experienced in your film. While¾watching your film I remembered what I was doing on¾each of those 10 days as I, and several of my friends,¾repeatedly tried to¾gain access¾to our¾apartments. Paralleling the 10 days that the families of Nicholas and Thanbir went through, to the 10 days I went through,¾puts many things in perspective. The grief of the families,¾with loved ones missing or deceased, was an abstract thought that I sub-consciously avoided during those 10 days. I spent my 10 days busying myself with the goal of getting back into my apartment to gather personal items.

Thank you for making a film that will enable millions of people to remember this tragedy, as well as the innocent lives directly affected by this tragedy.

I went to Lehigh University with Richard's office-mate, Scott. I must say that I was surprised and again saddened when I saw the flier of Scott in your film, even though I knew Scott's fate by the time those 10 days were over.¾¾Scott is¾another¾good soul and¾an innocent victim of this tragedy.
blue line
I just got done watching "Telling Nicholas" after a day spent across the street from what is now "Ground Zero" working for the Tribecca Film Festival. My girlfriend and I live in the West Village and as all New Yorkers we were very affected by the events of September 11th. The reason I am writing you is to say thank you for what you had the presence of mind to go out and film. I have had a hard time dealing with my emotions in relation to this event and for the first time since September 11th I was able to open up a bit and shed some tears. I am now exhausted and feel like I am still holding back, but I feel better. I am a freelance television producer who has been trying to tell some sort of a story related to the disaster but I have been struck dumb by the events and I find I do any other project to avoid dealing with the footage I have shot. In time I am sure I will be able to sit down and sift through it but for now I will look towards people like you with respect for doing their part to help us all heal.
Thanks - Luke
blue line
Oh my gosh...I am still crying. Shawn called me last week after the screening of "Telling Nicholas" and said it was so moving and asked me to tape it for him. I then asked my sister to also tape it, in case something went wrong. Well, needless to say, when it ended , my sister called crying, my daughter came upstairs crying , we were all crying together. Shawn's little brother (12 yrs. old) came over and hugged me and told me he loved me. Shawn said it really got to him also(which is hard for him to admit, he likes to hide his feelings).

I just had to write to you and tell you how it touched our lives and many others. Thank you for a job well done. We all needed a good cry.
blue line
I do not live in NYC, I live in St. Louis. I did not know anyone who was killed in the twin towers. Most of the time I cannot watch anything that discusses the disaster because I get incredibly depressed. But, as a mother of three kids ages 3-13, and as a mother who is dying, I felt the need to watch Telling Nicholas. Ever since I was a child, I thought the saddest thing in the world was for a child to lose their mother. It was my greatest fear for so long. Watching Nicholas cry in his fathers arms and yet be able to comfort his father at the same time, made me realize that there is hope yet. My own death does not have to cast a gray pall over my kids lives. I can do something now to help them cope with it. I can prepare them and hopefully, as Nicholas seemed to do, they will bounce back into the living world.
I thought the documentary was very well done and tasteful, and as I was watching it I realized that Nicholas acted normal, filled with grief but at the same time self centered. This to me is a very good thing. I had in my head that my death would somehow destroy my family, and I understand from Nicholas that it does not have to be that way.
Thank You for showing us a truly unique look at how 9/11 affected one little corner of NY.
blue line
Amazing documentary!!! Made me cry for the first time since 9/11. I'm looking forward to your future work. I'd like to see something about Nicholas when he is older and how the documentary and the events of 9/11 shaped his life.
blue line
I am so compelled to tell you that "Telling Nicholas" was beautiful. It was the most touching and genuine documentary, movie whatever you want to call it, it was amazing and heartfelt. I have a satellite system and watched it twice tonight. As I watched it and heard your voice I thought "wait a minute, I know that voice" and as I just looked up the website I saw "Just Melvin, Just Evil" and said "holy shit I knew I heard that voice before".¾

You should be so proud of your work and devotion. Just, Melvin was so painful to watch and see what you and your family went through but the way you took us through such an emotional roller coaster was overwhelming at times but so real that it makes all of those stupid "reality shows" look like the freakin' Brady Bunch. Forgive me for going on, but I needed to thank you for sharing your life and the life of these precious two boys and their families in such tasteful, heart stopping and beautiful productions...

I am positive that thousands of people will email you this morning telling you how wonderful "Telling Nicholas" was.

Best of blessings and health and good times to you....
Rosie from Jersey
blue line
Email From Viewers - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
blue line
    © 2001-03 James Ronald Whitney
See the Web sites for the director's other films: Just, Melvin, and Games People Play: New York
Comments or questions about the Web site contact the WebMaster at