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Show Is 'Hollywood Nights,' Not Arabian

May 06, 2000

My first reaction to ABC's "Arabian Nights" was one of indignant anger and frustration: yet another depiction of the Arabs as violent, bloodthirsty rogues.

As a Middle Easterner and a longtime student of the "One Thousand and One Nights," as it is known to us, I knew that this compilation of stories written as an enduring and wonderful work of literature in the 9th century was about wit, playfulness and, yes, sometimes about the less attractive qualities of the human race, but never at the expense of losing sight of its main goal: entertain while educating and appealing to humanity's higher morals.

The "magic makers" of ABC, in their frantic and pathetic effort to depict the Arab culture of their imagination, managed to put forward a version that only mirrors the ethics and character of the Hollywoodian society of the late 20th century: a small group of self-centered absolute rulers, presiding over a society of ruthless thugs, crooks, thieves and ignorant, greedy SOB's, all out to make a buck or a killing while totally indifferent to the needs and yearnings of their dependent audiences.

HANI D. EL-MASRI

Glendale

*

Scheherazade must tell stories night after night. If her audience, the sultan, shows the slightest disinterest, she faces the direst consequences.

I think I know why "Arabian Nights" was turned into a TV miniseries: Scheherazade's predicament is one that any network executive can relate to.

ROBERT PAYNE

Studio City

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