A planned CBS show about Ghost Ship, originally to helmed by local authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, has been shelved after the idea sparked a huge backlash among survivors, victims’ families, and the underground nightlife and arts community.

After I reached out to Chabon over Twitter and he responded, Waldman invited concerned readers to reach to to her via her personal email account. Dozens if not hundreds of people responded, apparently convincing the couple that this was a very bad idea.

The two have now announced that they will drop the project, and have sent me an email acknowledging that they have heard the community. It’s a great step. I don’t know if that means it’s completely off the table at CBS—I’ve reached out and will update if I hear anything. But for now, the Ghost Ship families are relieved of this at least.

Here’s the email Waldman sent me this afternoon. (She tweeted something similar as well.)

We believe in the power of art, and specifically of this medium, to effect change, and had hoped to harness that power not just on behalf of the victims of this tragedy but also to help to call to account those who most bear responsibility for it. Over the past few days, however, we’ve heard from parents of the victims, from friends and survivors, and from conscientious members of the community, appealing to us to reconsider telling the story of the Ghost Ship—because it’s too soon, because the wounds are too deep and too recent and the pain of reliving the experience would be too great. These appeals have been heartbreaking to hear, and they have changed our minds. 

We believe that there is a conversation to be had about the propriety of telling the story of the Ghost Ship, and about the identity and moral responsibility of those who tell it, but clearly it’s not a conversation that can be conducted without causing further pain to the living victims of this tragedy. At this time, therefore, we will not be proceeding, and will do our part to leave the families and survivors to their grief and their loss, in the fervent hope that someday they find not just comfort but also a measure of justice. 

Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.