Al-Marayati Discusses ‘Tyrant’ at Television Critics Association Event

July 24, 2014

This week, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati joined "Tyrant" Executive Producer Howard Gordon (“24” and “Homeland”) and Muslims on Screen and Television (MOST) for a panel discussion with the Television Critics Association (TCA) to explore the show's portrayal of the Middle East and the viewer response.

SEE: "‘Tyrant’: Howard Gordon, Experts Discuss Drama’s Authenticity" (Variety)

The show, which has been met with much controversy over its depiction of Arabs and the Middle East, debuted last month on the FX Network. MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau has been consulting on “Tyrant” to minimize stereotypes and enhance the accuracy and authentic representation of Islam and Muslims.

Set in a fictional war-torn country in the Middle East, the show centers around the character of Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed, who has been living in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years since his self-selected exile. The younger son of a dictator, Barry returns with his American family to his homeland for his nephew's wedding. His arrival leads to a dramatic clash, as he reluctantly returns to the familial and national politics he once left.

The panel featured a thoughtful and lively discussion offering consultants' perspectives on the show and their collaborative process with Gordon and his team. Al-Marayati shared MPAC’s vision of working towards change and better representation of Islam and Muslims. He explained that in order to see change in the popular representation of Muslims and Islam, we must work within the creative process. If MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau is able to minimize stereotypes, enhance a storyline or provide accurate information on Islam that is incorporated into the script, then we feel we have made progress.

Al-Marayati also praised Gordon for his commitment to this process and openness to our input. When asked by an audience member if this experience has been positive, Gordon responded, "We’ve been the beneficiaries of this dialogue. And I suspect it’s only the beginning of how fruitful that can be. This was just really good for us… and good for us as storytellers.”

In addition to consulting on Hollywood projects, MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau also works to connect Muslim talent with decision makers in the entertainment industry. We encourage Muslim writers, directors and producers to create their own content in order help improve the public image of Islam and Muslims. Our voices need to be heard in Hollywood because we are in the best position to tell our own humanizing and inspiring stories.



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