[Generally, in the United States, it is very difficult for a public figure to win a libel case.] Plus, libel claims based on fiction are obviously much harder than claims based on assertions in supposed non-fiction. But neither of these bars is insurmountable. And on the facts as reported, they could be surmounted surprisingly easily.
As one New York court put it not so long ago, a claim of "libel by fiction" requires that "the description of the fictional character must be so closely akin to the real person claiming to be defamed that a reader of the book, knowing the real person, would have no difficulty linking the two." The novel Primary Colors didn't meet that test as it didn't use real names, nor were the physical description of any character like the plaintiff in that case. But the 9/11 show differs from Primary Colors in a very basic way: It uses actors portraying real people with their actual names involved in activities that are a blend of real things they did and of the partisan imagination. I suspect it wouldn't be hard to get a court to see the difference from Primary Colors-like facts. Furthermore, even if ABC were to run a big disclaimer with the episode, that wouldn't necessarily suffice.
It's even harder to make out a case of libel when the victim is a public figure. Basically, to win you have to show that the author of the libelous work demonstrated a "reckless disregard for the truth." Given the public nature of the warnings that various scenes are false, if in fact they are false then I think this part of the case should be pretty easy.
If I were at ABC or Disney I'd be having a serious talk with my lawyers right about now.
And AmericaBlog points out that American Airlines is about to get smeared:
As I first noted yesterday, I have the entire "Path to 9/11" video. And one of the very first scenes makes it explicitly clear that American Airlines had Mohammad Atta in its grasp, warning lights flashing on the computer screen, yet the airline simply blew off the threat and helped Atta kill 3,000 Americans.
Unfortunately, it's a total lie.
Wrong airport, wrong airline, and an implicit accusation of negligence.