Egyptian-American comedians Ronnie Khalil and Meena Dimian are used to taking about controversial subjects on stage, but now they are taking their humor to Arabic television with their new show, “Y’ebn El Wazir” (“Son-of-a-
“Our goal is to create a television show that has the fast-paced, single-cam feel that has become a staple of American comedy,” says Dimian, who is currently living in Hollywood, and hosts a popular talk show for Abu Dhabi-1. “We want to bring in subjects and themes that are not currently seen in Arabic television and balancing them with the nuances necessary for the Arab world.”
The story centers on an Arab-American living in Los Angeles who receives an unexpected visitor, his half-brother, who is fleeing from the revolution. Their father has been arrested for embezzling hundreds of million dollars as a corrupt government official and sent his son to live with another son he abandoned many years ago.
“It’s a mix of Arrested Development and Perfect Strangers,” says Khalil, who held the first major stand-up comedy show in Cairo following the Egyptian revolution, joking about taboo subjects such as sexual harassment, government officials and more. “It’s the ultimate culture clash, but with a long-term story-line that will push as many boundaries as possible.”
To help bring the story together, they tapped Sundance Audience Award-winning director, Amin Matalqa, a Jordanian-American filmmaker whose film, “Captain Abu Raed” captivated audiences and won numerous distinguished honors. Matalqa also helmed the first Disney film shot in the Middle East, the family soccer drama entitled, “The United” and is working on his third feature film, “Strangely in Love.”
To help with the authenticity and feel of the production, Dimian and Khalil have added Mohammed Shaheen, an Egyptian comedian and comedy writer based in Cairo, to join their award-winning staff.
With the pilot shot and currently in post-production, and with several meetings already lined-up with some of the top networks in the Arab region, it might be only a matter of time until one of the most talked about shows in the Middle East will be filming in Hollywood.
Ronnie Khalil is CEO of Clownfish Productions, a producer on the feature, “You Can’t Kill Stephen King” and is currently shopping a Middle-Eastern-
Meena Dimian is CEO of Aneem Productions, an Emmy® nominated television host, presenter on Zahriet El Kahlieg for Abu Dhabi-1 and played the lead in the new American feature film “In The Summer Pavilion” to be released in theaters in 2013.
Note to Editors: Interviews available upon request, as well as high res production stills and actor headshots.