Friday, October 21, 2005

Independent Online Edition > Homer becomes Omar for Arab makeover of Simpsons

Independent Online Edition > Homer becomes Omar for Arab makeover of Simpsons:

With Omar as Homer, and Badr substituted for Bart, The Simpsons is now playing on Arab television.

But in order not to risk offending an Arab audience, the characters in Al Shamshoon, as the show is now called, have modified some of their most distinguishable traits.

Omar may look the same as in the series that debuted in 1987, but he has swapped Duff beer for soft drinks; no longer hangs out at "seedy bars with bums and lowlifes" - Moe no longer owns a bar - and eats barbequed Egyptian beef sausages instead of non-Halal hotdogs. He even grazes on Arab kahk cookies in place of doughnuts.

The dysfunctional family, that continues to live in Springfield, have not wholly reformed. Omar is still lazy and Badr continues to bate his teachers and parents.

The adaptation, which began in time for Ramadam when television viewing figures peak, uses the original Simpsons animation. High profile Egyptian actors, including Mohamed Heneidy, are providing the character's voices.

With a primetime slot, Arab satellite channel MBC hopes the show, which has run for 17 seasons and won 12 Emmy awards in America, will be the first in a succession of similar adaptations.

Michel Costandi, business-development director of MBC TV Network, said: "I think The Simpsons will open new horizons for us to the future. We are opening up a new genre of programming in the Middle East."

Suppliers of Arabic-dubbed Western cartoons say demand had been high for years, with the Walt Disney Co. dubbing countless animations. With 60 per cent of the population in the Arab world under the age of 20, and 40 per cent under 15, the market is likely to expand.

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