"Turn" shifts focus to George Washington; Hollywood prepares for Hillary Clinton; and why "Veep" gets D.C. right.
Aasif Mandvi and Miles Kahn have turned a sketch created for “The Daily Show” into the web series parody “Halal in the Family,” which mocks Muslim stereotypes in the same way that “All in the Family” skewered racial bias through humor.
Mandvi, in an interview with Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM, says that the the four-episode Web series is well timed, given the discussion of the role of Islam in the media, particularly in the wake of the insurgency of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Understanding of Muslims, he says, has actually gotten worse since 9/11.
“I think that conversation has been hijacked by the media, by politicians for their own purposes, and the answer is to be afraid,” he says. “The answer is they are the bogeyman, that sort of thing. There is a very low favorable rating of Muslims right now — I think like 27% of Americans. I think we are just a little bit higher than Congress. And when most Americans hear the word ‘Muslim,’ it is like hearing the word ‘cancer.’ They respond in that way.”
The series was posted on Thursday on Funny or Die and halalinthefamily.tv. Mandvi, producer along with Lillian LaSalle, stars alongside Sakina Jaffrey, with special guests including Samantha Bee, Tariq Trotter and Jordan Klepper. The show skewers surveillance issues, Sharia law hysteria and cyber-bullying.
Kahn, who directed the four episode series, says that TV dramas and movies too often paint Muslims as “our new enemy.”
“At one point it was the Russians, and now it is the Middle East and Muslims,” he says. “It is our new villain. That is not to say that there aren’t problems in the Middle East, that there are not huge things we have to deal with right now. … But there is very little nuance in the way that Muslims, especially American Muslims, are portrayed in the media, and that is what really attracted me to this.
“I would love if this the start of something where people say, ‘Hey, there are some American Muslims that are pretty much like you and me,'” he adds. “That is kind of the intent with this to say, ‘Look at these people. They are the same people.'”
Mandvi and Kahn talk about why they are turning to comedy to try to address anti-Muslim bias.
Mandvi and Kahn doubt that the 2016 presidential campaign will bring nuanced rhetoric about Muslims. “If it is brought up in this election, it is going to be blunt — it is not going to be nuanced and, sadly, it will probably be misinformed,” Kahn says.
‘Turn’ Turns to George Washington: The AMC series “Turn: Washington’s Spies” is back for a second season on Monday, with Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) no longer wavering in his mission to assist the rebellious colonists in the Culper spy ring.
Series executive producer Craig Silverstein tells “PopPolitics” that there’s one character who will be featured more prominently this season — George Washington — a figure who has proved elusive for historians, not to mention in the handful of onscreen portrayals. Silverstein talks about how Washington himself was conscious of his image and by his own efforts ensured that he would be somewhat of a detached yet iconic figure.
Silverstein also says that the full scope of the Culper spy ring wasn’t uncovered until the 1930s, as historians started to piece together Washington’s correspondence with figures from the Revolutionary War era.
Silverstein talks about why relatively few movies and TV shows have tried to capture the Revolutionary War.
Hunter Schwarz of the Washington Post and Dominic Patten of Deadline talk about the staging of Rand Paul’s presidential campaign announcement and whether his strategy is to go after the media. They also talk about the irony of Paul getting hit with a YouTube copyright violation over the posting of a John Rich song.
The Week: Hillary Clinton’s pending announcement of her presidential campaign on Sunday is expected to be followed by a feverish amount of fundraising, with a swing through California in early May, sources say. Here’s our story on how Hollywood is viewing the second campaign.
The Alternative: Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, will raise money for his O’PAC in a trek to Los Angeles on April 23. Sony Pictures’ Eric Paquette and Youth Policy Institute executive director Dixon Slingerland co-host at Republique. O’Malley still hasn’t announced whether he will run for president, but he’s made several treks to raise Hollywood money.
‘Veep’ Gets It Right: Frank Rich, executive producer of “Veep,” says that series creator Armando Iannucci spotted something about D.C. that so many other TV showrunners miss: “He said, ‘Everyone in Washington dresses 10 years behind New York.”
Rich spoke to SiriusXM “Press Pool” host Julie Mason for a special event, “Inside Veep,” that also included Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons and Kevin Dunn.
Because Iannucci is British, it “gives him an objectivity that often Americans don’t have, and he sees it clearly without sentimentality,” Rich says. The series returns on Sunday for it fourth season, with the president’s resignation having elevated Selina Meyer to the Oval Office.
And: Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s some perspective on just how long ago it was. Watch Samuel Seymour, who was in Ford’s Theatre the night of the assassination, on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1956. He was five years old in 1865 and 96 years old when he appeared on what was then one of the most popular shows in primetime.
PopPolitics, hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124.