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EXCLUSIVE: Gideon Raff not cause of racism in new FX Series Tyrant, supporters say
By Ray Hanania
As an American Arab, I am so tired of watching movies and TV series exploit the negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims and strive for success by pandering to fears, anger and emotion.
When I first saw the publicity and background on the new FX TV Series called Tyrant, my immediate reaction was to blame the man who originated the idea, Gideon Raff.
Turns out, he is a hero in this saga, leaving the show when it turned ugly.
Raff, an Israeli, was the creator of another series I loathed, Homeland, so it seemed to fit so well into my immediate gut reaction to blame him. I wrote a tough column criticizing Tyrant, criticizing FX, criticizing the Hollywood movie and TV industries, and most of all criticizing Raff.
Now, I feel terrible because the truth appears to be that Raff is not responsible for how Tyrant has turned out at all. In fact, I am told, he fought the racist hate characterizations that plague the series, which I have only been able to judge based on pre-release publicity, online videos and what others close to the show have written.
Tyrant will premiere on the FX Cable network on June 24.
After writing the column a few days ago, I was contacted by several people who argued that Raff is being unfairly blamed for the way the show has turned out.
“Gideon Raff wrote a very sophisticated political drama about the reality of Arab life in these complex post-Arab Spring situations. It was real. It was raw. It was honest. It drew enormous talent to the project both behind the camera and in front of the cameras. Unfortunately, in the process of developing this pilot into a series, his original vision was discarded and transformed into something that is in many ways the opposite of what he was trying to do in the first place. It is simply incorrect to characterize Gideon as anti-Arab, anti-Muslim or pro-Occupation. He is progressive, liberal and a proud Israeli but one who is absolutely against the occupation, settlements and anything the rightwing in Israel or the US stands for,” someone close to the production explained in a telephone conversation.
“There were a good number of Middle Eastern voices that were originally a part of this project, but in the course of development of the project, many of those voices, including Gideon Raff were removed from the equation.”
It does sound amazing that the man who created the show is pushed out, but apparently that happens in Hollywood.
I feel terrible having blamed Raff for the show and apologize for criticizing him, now that I know the truth. And I look forward to hear more on this, hopefully from him, although you know that the powers that be in Hollywood can be punitive.
Raff has a new show called Dig that will be premiering soon on the USA Network. In November 2013 Raff and Heroes creator Tim Kring finalized a six-episode deal with the USA Network for Dig, an archaeological thriller which is about an American FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem. The TV series is due to premiere in late 2014.
Here are some trailers from Tyrant, published on YouTube:
Tyrant offers the creative talents of David Yates, the director of the “true-to-life” (sarcasm, of course) Harry Potter series.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist and managing editor of The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Selections of his columns are also distributed by Creators Syndicate.)
This post has been viewed 13321 times.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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