- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

Fox relents

Fox is taking the criticisms of “24” by members of the Muslim community to heart.

The network will offer its stations two public service announcements that show Muslims in a positive light to counterbalance its thriller’s current story line, Associated Press reports.

The Fox series, which stars Kiefer Sutherland as a U.S. counterterrorism agent, began its fourth season last week with a story featuring a Muslim terror cell that includes a married couple and their teenage son.

In one episode, the Muslim mother (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, an Oscar-nominee for “House of Sand and Fog”) poisoned the non-Muslim girlfriend of her son (Jonathan Ahdoutnon, who also played Miss Aghdashloo’s son in the 2003 film) after deeming her a threat to the cell’s mission.

The PSAs in question, whipped up by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, showcase a diverse group of individuals, who in turn share personal descriptions and identify themselves as American Muslims. The spots were introduced by CAIR last summer as part of a nationwide public awareness campaign.

The PSAs are being made available by Fox to both its owned and affiliated stations to air throughout the broadcast day at the discretion of each station’s management, said Fox spokesman Scott Grogin.

HBO goes Public

HBO has teamed with PBS for a trio of original films to be distributed through both networks.

Local PBS affiliate, WETA-TV (Channel 26), will co-produce related panel discussions on each film to air after the presentation with the help of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The first film, “Dirty War,” which details a fictional attack on London, airs at 9 p.m. next Monday . It makes its PBS debut Feb. 23.

Other films include “Sometime in April” — an account of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that will be shot in that country — and “Yesterday,” which looks at the AIDS crisis in contemporary South Africa.

‘Commandments’

ABC is developing a new version of “The Ten Commandments” along with Hallmark Entertainment.

The network’s four-hour “Commandments” will rely on biblical and historical research, according to an ABC release, not simply follow the blueprint set by Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 film.

The miniseries will be directed by Robert Dornhelm (“Spartacus — The Miniseries”) and written by Ron Hutchinson “Traffic — The Miniseries”).

FX also is working on a 10-hour “Ten Commandments” project to be executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, but that saga will be set in modern times and offer a contemporary spin on the ancient rules, according to CNN.com.

Logo’s slow go

A new TV network aimed at homosexual viewers won’t debut next month as planned.

The channel, dubbed Logo, will sign on in June in order to secure additional carriage commitments and develop more original shows, Reuters News Agency reports.

Cable giant Viacom had initially projected a start date of Feb. 17, but the new target is June 30. By then, the channel should have an initial subscriber base of at least 10 million cable households.

MTV Networks confirmed it has obtained carriage agreements for Logo with Time Warner Cable in Manhattan, RCN and Atlantic Broadband, and is in final negotiations for an agreement with Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable-system operator.

“I want it to come out with a complete and diverse (program) slate, so that every gay and lesbian person can look at it and say, ‘Oh, there I am,’” said Brian Graden, Logo’s president and executive director.

Mr. Graden confirmed his channel has acquired the first rerun rights to the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “Angels in America” and a skein of homosexual-themed films including “Billy Eliot,” “Mulholland Dr.” and “Far From Heaven.”

Logo already has an eclectic slate of documentaries in development, including “In the Name of Allah,” which takes a look at homosexuals from Muslim backgrounds.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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