MEMO FROM MALIBU

December 24, 2004 // by admin

MEMO FROM MALIBU

Although its efforts have proven maladroit in the past, the United States is determined to provide Iraqis with entertaining “alternative” media to counter the effects of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia.  What follows is a State Department memo, given to this site by an anonymous source, detailing America’s latest effort.  WARNING:  this is highly confidential, so those of you who cannot be trusted with state secrets, keep on scrolling.

Barry–

Hope you and the family are okay, and you’re doing well after the gall bladder thing.

Just wanted to shoot the team at PDPA [Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs – ed.] an update on Operation Infinite Ratings.  We finally got a favorable ruling from Sheikh Raq-n Raul at the Brentwood Mosque–something about TV sitcoms being permissable as long as they remain “Islamically instructive,” which Legal tells me should cover our tuchuses with any fatwa difficulties.

The Pentagon has green-lighted the first series, and the gang in Creative couldn’t be more excited.  It’s called “My Son the Shia,” and the basic premise is this:  Abu Dulaimy, head imam at an ultra-orthodox Wahhabi mosque in Falluja, sends his son Ahmed off to engineering school in Basra, and after two years, Ahmed comes back home with Layla–his beautiful, but ditzy wife.  Problem is, Layla is Shia–and Ahmed has converted in order to marry her, driving Abu crazy!  Think “All in the Family” with Muslims.

In the pilot episode, it’s just before Ramadan, and Layla hopes to impress her new in-laws by cooking her sure-fire mazgouf recipe, only she forgets that the Shia start the holiday later than the Sunnis.  Hilarity ensues as old Abu and his four wives try to maintain their fast, while trying to keep the city’s religious police from dynamiting their house.  Marketing tested this with Shia viewers in Detroit and the approval rating was off the charts!

In future episodes, Ahmed gets so angry at Abu for telling his Wahhabi congregation that Shiism is a Jewish plot to undermine Islam that he tells the local American commander about the RPG stash hidden under the mosque.  Another has Layla baking cookies to celebrate Mohammad’s birthday–Creative tells me the scene where she gets chased down the street by an angry mob threatening to stone her to death is a classic!

Over time we’ll introduce characters like Abu’s freeloading Bedouin relatives;  Sa’ad, the village drunk–who gets 80 lashes in the town square whenever he goes on a bender–and Abdul and his local insurgents:  think Sgt. Bilko and the gang in stocking masks.  We’re also going to break out an American character–Major Bart Reynolds, a bumbling Psy-Ops officer who tries to “get down” with the locals, but speaks only classical Arabic and regularly gets his equipment stolen by Abdul’s cut-ups.  (The Pentagon is going out on a limb for us on this one, but Marketing tells me the Iraqis will eat it up.)

You probably heard about the snafus.  True, we had to move production from Baghdad to Burbank after someone e-mailed the production crew an anonymous warning–something about the “gates of Hell” and “endless geysers of blood.”  That means SAG headaches and union costs up the wazoo.  Anyway, we’re hoping to sign Eddie Olmos for Abu Dulaimy and Whoopi’s committed to 15 weeks to play one of his wives.  We’re thinking Ashley Simpson for Layla and that guy from American Idol, whatzisname–Clay Aiken–for Ahmed (I know, I know, but make-up can do wonders).

I can’t say we haven’t had disappointments. Ayatollah Sistani’s people have DEFINITELY ruled out a guest appearance for next month’s shooting; too busy with the upcoming elections.  Too bad, because we need a fill-in for Layla’s father.  Anyone know what Omar Sharif is doing these days?

Also, we got orders from Rumsfeld’s boys to scratch the episode where Ahmed and Layla take a trip near the Syrian border and accidentally uncover a buried Electromagnetic Isotope Separator and 150 al-Hussein missiles armed with Botulinum toxin and Bacillus anthracis spores.  Something about an on-going investigation.

We being rolling next week and hope to debut just before Ashura.  When does the festival start again?  I can never figure out that damn lunar calendar.

Hope to see you soon.  Malibu is great this time of year and the wife and kids all miss you.  We’ll do lunch.

Happy holidays,

Sid

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