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David Letterman's not one for sentiment and seems uncomfortable with displays of affection, at least in public.
But the gap-toothed host smiled unabashedly and hugged Edison Peña, after the Elvis-loving rescued Chilean miner stood up and belted an impromptu version of The King’s "Suspicious Minds" on CBS’ "Late Show" Thursday.
It marked another genuine, exhilarating moment, that – along with Peña's triumphant finish Sunday in the ING New York City Marathon – reminded us why we love the story of the miners, whose rescue provided the best, most literally uplifting spectacle witnessed by a world audience in years.
Forgive us for having a suspicious mind, but we're somewhat less charmed by news that filming of the first movie about the miners began just five days after the first trapped man returned to the surface.
The film probably won't be the last movie about the miners, who are a hot property, one ripe for exploitation. It's not just the entertainment world that stands to benefit: Time magazine reports that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera already has ridden the sooty coattails of the 33 miners to a political rebirth.
The quick-move movie reflects the times we live in. The miners, after all, spent part of their 69 days a half-mile below the surface talking about how to portray their story as their families reportedly discussed various deals.
There's a certain value in being first, especially in this ripped-from-the-headlines world. But there are times when fictionalized depictions of real events don't work well only weeks or months after fact. Nearly two decades later, we're still pretty sure the country didn't need three Amy Fisher TV movies.
In far more sober and recent examples, movies touching on 9/11, while largely respectful, might have come too soon for some tastes. There's something to be said for allowing time to pass in hopes of bringing new insight and perspective to major events.
The miners' story, of course, remains a feel-good tale – at least until detailed accounts about what must have been some dark moments come to light.
It's impossible to tell, of course, whether “The 33 of San Jose” will be any good. The Hollywood Reporter reports the filmmakers have acquired rights to much of the TV news footage surrounding the drama, which give us both cause for hope and another reason to ask, why bother?
The real-life images, still fresh nearly a month later, seem impossible to exceed in our collective memory. And more memories are sure to be made, whether in interviews with the miners or new appearances by the irrepressible Peña, whose life-affirming Letterman stint might be the best coda of all to the saga. Check it out below:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.