HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Has sufficient time elapsed for a major American TV network to broadcast a four-hour miniseries on the life of Adolf Hitler?
CBS thinks so and is preparing such a broadcast for the 2002-03 season. Doubtless CBS brass is thinking about bloodthirsty madmen now that Osama bin Laden is on the loose and raising havoc worldwide with his terrorist allies.
But bin Laden is a piker compared with Hitler and Joseph Stalin who counted their victims in the millions. Bin Laden, after all, is just getting started.
But unlike the 20th century satanic lunatics, bin Laden doesn't have a powerful country and army at his command -- although he does have several countries that are not exactly hostile to him or his agenda.
However, Hitler still is much in the minds and memories of Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation," and their offspring and survivors in the millions whose families were murdered by the Nazis in death camps.
For them, doubtless, any movie -- TV or otherwise -- about Adolf Hitler is not a viable subject for a television project. Especially for Jews in the United States and abroad.
Hitler's "final solution" was nothing more than a euphemism for the worldwide genocide of Jews -- which he very nearly achieved, killing 6 million of them in brutal Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Historically, tyrants and autocrats have been the stuff of drama and global stupefaction. From Caesar to Fidel Castro, generations of historians have examined their ascendance to dominant leadership and their immutable stature in history.
In retrospect they have been subjects of hatred, fear, vilification and terror. And some were clowns -- Napoleon, for example.
But all are held in contempt for their disruption of human progress and debasement of the elements that separate human beings from the lower orders of animals.
With technology, greater masses of warriors and disquieting advances in torture and ruthlessness, tyrants have become increasingly intolerable -- and fascinating.
Perhaps that is why CBS has agreed with the production company Alliance Atlantis to devote four hours of primetime TV to the insane little house-painter who became der Fuehrer - ridiculed as Schicklgruber in post-World War I Germany.
He was more feared than ridiculed, however. Hitler was a little man in stature (as was Napoleon) but cast an enormous and menacing shadow over the entire planet.
Hitler and his one-time ally Stalin sent more people to their deaths than all the other tyrants of history added together.
So now we will be offered an "objective" biography of Hitler based on English historian Ian Kershaw's best-selling tome "Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris." "Hubris" encompasses pomposity, presumption, arrogance and other abhorrent human traits.
Apparently the mini-series will stress Hitler's childhood, youth and early years as dictator-in-the-making. Seemingly it will not entail the horrors he perpetrated on the rest of the world, the well-documented insanity of his conquest of Europe.
The script of the as-yet-untitled project is being written by G. Ross Parker for Alliance Atlantis for that organization's Peter Sussman and Ed Gernon as producers.
A spokesman for Alliance Atlantis said, "We hope to find ourselves with a project that is very dangerous and daring. It's extraordinary what CBS is allowing us to do."
The producers have said they will not attempt to make a sympathetic character of Hitler, and that their depiction of Hitler will not be heavy-handed in regard to his depraved intentions for mankind.
They have decided to provide a historically accurate portrait of Hitler rather than produce a sensational account of the despot.
Said producer Gernon, "We are telling the story of an antihero, and he is the main character of the film."
But of prime interest will be revelations of the elements that brought Hitler to power and how German society allowed him to hold sway for so many years under oppressive rule.
It is made clear the emphasis of the series will be on Hitler, the man himself, his quirks, dreams and personal attributes rather than the havoc he brought down on his country and the calamitous results of his plans for world domination.
"Part of the story is a society that conspired to make Hitler possible, and then stood back and did nothing to stop him.
"He was a man underestimated by everyone, especially those who tried to use him."
Hitler, historians tell us, was a common, impoverished nobody, a paper-hanger who dabbled as a painter and rose to prominence in a conquered country suffering the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles.
The common man now overturns order, not the aristocracy.
What sort of Nielsen ratings will the Hitler mini-series register?
Who will play the role of Hitler?
Why would anyone care about how this evil monster who became a world figure?
CBS hopes it has the answers.