Kuwait's gov't fights against 'Star Academy'

BAGHDAD — Kuwait’s government is taking legal action against a Kuwait City hotel for hosting a team from the Lebanese TV reality show “Star Academy.”

“We have summoned the hotel officials and referred them to the hotels classification department to take the necessary legal measures” for misusing their license, ministry undersecretary Rasheed al-Tabtabai was quoted as saying by the official KUNA news agency.

It was not clear what penalties might be imposed. The “Star Academy” team was in Kuwait to interview potential candidates for the show, much to the dismay of hard-line Salafi Islamist M.P.s who claim the show destroys morals and flouts Islamic values.

“The recruitment of youth for a program that destroys morals and fights our (Islamic) values is no less bad and dangerous than recruiting them for peddling drugs,” M.P. Waleed al-Tabtabai said in a statement last week demanding the “Star Academy” staff members be booted out the country.

Tabtabai said the reality show “imports Western values that are rejected by our society, and is based on mixing members of the two sexes to teach them Western habits and practices that they want to spread among our youth.”

“Star Academy,” which is aired on Lebanon’s leading satcaster LBCI, is based on Endemol’s “Fame Academy” format. Generally, contestants live in a boarding school called the Academy and are coached in various artistic disciplines while being filmed. Once a week they take part in a primetime show, performing a song they rehearsed during the previous week.

A panel of judges and viewers vote on the contestants, and the weakest one is dropped each week. The eventual winner is awarded a record deal and usually some money.

A number of Kuwaitis have participated in the show since it began.

A concert in Kuwait in 2004 by young stars of the program caused an uproar in the conservative Gulf state, where alcohol and discotheques are banned.

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