By Jeff Baron, Staff Writer, America.gov
Iranian-American memoir had been one step away from becoming a TV series
Washington - Funny in Farsi isn't making the leap to television after all, at least for now.
The American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the network that had bought the rights to a TV series based on the memoir by Firoozeh Dumas, had made a sample episode - a "pilot" - of the show. But it decided not to order production of the series for the broadcast season that begins in the fall.
Another network could decide to create a series based on the book, but it would have to start from the beginning: ABC owns the script for the pilot.
"I am so sorry and so disappointed. The pilot was hilarious and had many, many fans at ABC, but the decision came down to just one person, the president of ABC, and he passed on it," Dumas said on her website.
The pilot starred two Iranian-American actors, comedian Maz Jobrani and Marjan Neshat, as the husband and wife who face the challenges of adjusting to a new culture after moving their family to Southern California from Iran. The director was Barry Sonnenfeld, who also directed the movies Get Shorty and Men in Black.
"What I am most sorry about is that this show had writers, actors and supporters of all backgrounds and it was truly laugh-out-loud funny. It would have been a groundbreaking series, believe me," Dumas said.
American television never has had a successful series built around characters from the Middle East. Dumas had hoped that a TV version would give Americans a better understanding of people from Iran, as she said her books have done. She said the show's writers, Iranian American Nastaran Dibai and her American-born husband, Jeffrey B. Hodes, captured the spirit of her books.
Funny in Farsi and its sequel, Laughing Without an Accent, have sold well in the United States and have been widely read in Iran. And the Facebook site for the series had 12,000 fans from around the world, even though the pilot never has been broadcast. Dumas said she doesn't know whether the pilot will become available so some of those devoted fans can see it. If it does become available, she said she would like to post it on YouTube - if she can do so legally.
About America.gov: U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) engages international audiences on issues of foreign policy, society and values to help create an environment receptive to U.S. national interests.
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