Maryam Rahimi Blogs!
Globe & Mail interview
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Globe and mail Saturday April 17 2010
Toronto M5, By Ian Merringer
Jersey Shore, T.O style
Local producer sets TO’s Persian community in her sights for a new reality show based on the US hit.
A cultural storm front emanating from Jersey Shore could soon wash up on Toronto beaches if a local television producer succeeds in selling her pilot for a reality television show.
A recent casting call beckoned “out spoken, out standing, over the top, attractive females and males of Iranian ethnicity” to star in the Canadian version of Jersey Shore. The MTV reality television show climbed the ratings this year as its eight housemates sank deeper into nightclub debasement while playing up Italian-American stereotypes.
Plans for spin off shows that depict a fiery Russian sub culture in New York and the brash “Masshole” identity of young Bostonians are in the works but Iranian-Canadian television producer Maryam Rahimi thinks Toronto’s large population of preening Persians will make her pilot just tantalizing enough for Canadian networks.
Miss Rahimi has secured a budget from the Montreal sunrise multimedia and hopes to begin shooting in Toronto by June. As would-be housemates responded to her casting call this week, Miss Rahimi explained her decision to turn the camera on her own community, and offered her revealing take on reality television.
Q: Jersey shore outraged the national Italian-American foundation and cause advertisers to pull out because of how it portrayed the self-proclaimed “guidos”. What reaction do you expect from the Iranian-Canadian community?
A: It would make a lot of people angry and lead to a lot of talk about how it is misrepresenting Persians. Obviously for entertainment purposes a lot of things would be exaggerated but bottom line there are Persian who fit right in here and others who don’t.
Q: what will viewers will learn about Iranian-Canadians?
A: when Persians do things they do it in a very grand way. If you are at a restaurant with them it is often a fight to see who’s going to take the bill. Persians also pay a lot of attention to really tedious physical concerns. It’s their mentality to want to look good all the time. So those aspects will be very interesting to watch on television.
Q: you might say the strength of Jersey shore lies in the weakness, both moral and intellectual of the cast. What sort of characters will you choose?
A: crazy, wild partying, glamorous personalities that don’t plan ahead. The Persian princesses and princess who think they have it all and do what ever it takes to get what they want.
Q: As a producer, will you orchestrate any theatrics?
A: Absolutely. I will drop little things in the show to trigger some sort of conflict. This of gets jealous of the other on and that sort of things. I might pull out one of the personalities and say something to her that will work her up. There will be scripted conflicts for the purpose of making the show exciting. People know that even though its “reality” it’s scripted.
Q: so could cast members get performance bonuses for extra drama?
Q: you’ve called it a replica, why model it so closely to Jersey Shore?
A: I know CTV likes to take shows which have been successful in foreign countries and basically create a Canadian version.
Q: the Jersey shore stars would probably be proud to be called salacious, if somebody told them what I meant. How would you reproduce sex/soaked beach town culture in Toronto?
A: when Persians go out whether it’s to grocery shop or to a nightclub they like to dress up and show off. That sex appeal will be something you see all the way through the show.
Q: On Jersey Shore, the cast contributes to society by working in a T-Shirt shop. How will your cast members be productive?
A: I think a tanning salon is a great idea because you have clients who come in to strip down and tan, if we have our cast working there they might not only take advantage of the services after hours. But you might have one client walk in who is a body-builder and needs to tan before a competition. Then the girl at the reception greets him and flirts with him, except her boyfriend is working in the back and he finds out. You see where it might go.
Q: I’m trying not to. Reality shows feed off power struggles. Will you insert a dominant force into the house?
A: it would be funny to do that and see people rebel. Because Persians do not like authority it would have to be a cast member who has more credibility than the others, maybe they’ve won a couple of beauty competition or something.