Will Meinen | The Tattler
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There has been growing concern in the halls of the U.S. Congress and Senate that Iran is on the verge of producing a nuclear weapon. The U.S. has initiated sanctions against the oil-rich nation, convincing allies Japan and South Korea to look elsewhere for imports of crude.
Television executives at CBS, NBC, and Paramount have raised a separate set of concerns at a recent Congressional hearing. Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal appeared in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security to unveil evidence showing that the government of Iran is secretly producing its own situational comedies.
“Situational comedies are one of our most valuable cultural and commercial exports,” Burke testified. “The foreign market comprises 30 percent of our syndication revenue. If Iran starts creating their own content, our shareholders could take a big hit. It is in our national interests to stop the country of Iran from producing American-inspired situational comedies.”
According to NBC foreign operatives, the state run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is six months from finishing a lineup of programming to fill the much valued 6:00 to 10:00 PM Thursday time slots.
“If they finish production and develop audiences in the 18 to 45 demographic it’s game over,” said an anonymous CBS television producer working undercover in Tehran. “There is no stopping them at that point. They will quickly infiltrate the living rooms of Shia households in Iraq and Lebanon.”
Two of the shows nearing completion are obviously inspired by American comedies.
“Everybody Has Affection for Habib, God Willing” is clearly modeled after “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Habib, his wife, and six children live across the street from his parents, and are always dropping by unannounced. The mother-in-law character belittles her daughter-in-law’s cooking and housekeeping. Habib proves to be insensitive to his wife’s needs but is regularly forgiven for his insensitivity, God willing.
“Male and Female Friend Groups Intermingling under Strictly Controlled Conditions” is a spinoff of the much more succinctly titled “Friends.” In the Iranian version, a group of male and female friends live across the hall from one another in an apartment complex, but never spend time together unless in public or at a family gathering. For the pilot, the “Joey” character, called Behrouz, plays an out of work actor who shames his family with his career choice until he lands a role as a newscaster on IRIB 4. He goes on a shopping spree to celebrate his success only to ask Allah for forgiveness for his Western influenced consumerist excess. He lives with Chandler (ed. no name change).
The Republican candidates for President have jumped on the news of Iran’s entertainment ambitions as a way to strengthen their foreign policy credentials. Rick Santorum took a predictably hard line on the issue.
“The hollywood free market, as much as I disagree with pretty much everything it stands for, entertains millions of our citizens every night with copyright protected programming. We can not let the Iran government subsidize the violation of our intellectual property rights, nor risk them indoctrinating the region with radical ideology like that found in the “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” For that reason I vow that if elected President, I will strategically bomb Iran’s underground television studios thereby pushing back their production schedule potentially by years. Iran, you are the biggest loser! Santorum out.”