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[02/19/08 - 09:11 AM]
Sundance Channel to Premiere 'On the Road in America'
The 12-part documentary series, which premieres June 4, follows four young Arabs as they travel across the United States.

[via press release from Sundance]

Sundance Channel to Premiere 'On the Road in America'

12-Part Doc Series Looks at U.S. Through Lens of 4 Young Arabs During 10-Week Cross-Country Journey Begins June 4, Airs Wednesday Nights at 9:00 ET/PT

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 -- Sundance Channel will premiere "On the Road in America," the 12-part documentary series that follows four young Arabs as they travel across the United States, on June 4, 2008. Created by Academy Award(R)-nominated producer Jerome Gary (Pumping Iron), and executive produced by Gary and Leon Shahabian, the series was conceived with the intent to expose Middle Eastern audiences to the diversity and uniqueness of the United States and Americans. Ultimately, "On the Road in America" highlights the differences and similarities between the two cultures and facilitates a deeper understanding of each.

The series originally aired on Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC). "On the Road in America" airs Wednesday nights as a weekly half-hour program, premiering Wednesday, June 4th at 9:00 ET/PT. It is produced by Layalina Productions of Washington, D.C. in association with Visionaire Media of Los Angeles. It was made possible by a grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation of Indiana.

The program's cast includes Ali Amr, a friendly 22-year-old Egyptian who is studying accounting at the American University in Cairo; Sanad Al Kubaissi, an upbeat Saudi in his sophomore year at the American University in Dubai; and Mohamed Abou-Ghazal, an outspoken 27-year-old Jordanian who has lived most of his life in Lebanon and completed his medical studies at the American University of Beirut. Rounding out the ensemble is Lara Abou Saifan, a dynamic young Palestinian woman who has been married for five years and lives in Beirut. Lara is also a member of the production team, and serves as a bridge between her fellow travelers and the crew. Traveling by RV across the U.S. in the summer of 2006, the cast and members of the production crew stopped for several days at points of interest including New York City, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta, Los Angeles and Big Sur.

The schedule for "On the Road in America" is as follows:

Wednesday, June 4th

Episode 1: Washington, D.C. -- Directed by Jerome Gary. As the "On the Road" production team prepares to begin shooting in July 2006, war breaks out between Israel and Hezbollah, with Southern Lebanon as a primary battleground. Mohamed arrives from Lebanon with just the clothes on his back; he is followed by Ali and Sanad. The three young men take part in a conference held by the bipartisan research organization CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies). Lara is successfully re-routed out of Beirut and arrives in Washington, ready to begin work as both cast and crew member. The four young Arabs get an introduction to America's democratic process when they join the volunteer ranks of Washington's mayoral candidates.

Wednesday, June 11th

Episode 2: New York -- Directed by Jerome Gary. As their RV takes them from Washington to New York, the cast members are preoccupied by the grim news out of Lebanon, where war between Israel and Hezbollah rages on. In Manhattan, the cast surveys life in the capital of capitalism, an odyssey that takes them from the shopping sanctums of Fifth Avenue, to the warrens of Wall Street, to the basketball courts of Harlem. Then it's on to the Hamptons, where New Line Cinema founder Bob Shaye hosts a classic summer lobster boil amidst much discussion of Middle East conflict and American involvement. Lara reconsiders her opinions about Israelis as she spends more time with the series' Israeli director of photography, Guy Livneh.

Wednesday, June 18th

Episode 3: Chicago -- Directed by Aaron Fishman. Fishman, a Chicago native, sets out to show Ali, Sanad, Mohamed and Lara his hometown's "trifecta": food, sports and culture. The quartet is split into groups of two to explore Chicago's North and South Sides, communities that offer very different iterations of the city's signature pleasures. The travelers interact with an array of locals as they recruit players for the North Side/South Side softball game that will conclude their five-day visit. Tensions grow between some of the cast members and the production team, and Lara steps in to mediate.

Wednesday, June 25th

Episode 4: Mississippi Delta -- Directed by Mary Lambert. The cast sees another side of America when they travel to the rural South. In Clarkesdale, Mississippi, Jerdi Lambert's farm offers a glimpse of a more prosperous era, while the decaying buildings of the city's business district tell a different story. The cast gets a first-hand introduction to blues and gospel at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, and take in Sunday services at a Black church. The visit wraps up with an old-fashioned fish fry and a jam session with local blues legend Super Chikan.

Wednesday, July 2nd

Episode 5: Montana -- Directed by Jerome Gary. A rugged pack trip into Yellowstone country elicits different levels of enthusiasm among the three cast members camped out under the stars. Meanwhile, their fellow voyager is treated to a stay at a modern dude ranch. The group is introduced to two respected Western experts, writer/anthropologist Larry Lahren and author/grizzly bear expert Doug Peacock. A dip into the thermal pool at Chico Hot Springs provides an opportunity to relax and make new friends.

Wednesday, July 9th

Episode 6: Los Angeles Part 1 -- Directed by Danny Bilson. Ali, Sanad, Mohamed and Lara get a multi-dimensional look at celebrity culture during their visit to Los Angeles. The itinerary includes tours of the Chinese Theatre and Universal Studios, as well as a visit to swag-rich enclave catering to the needs of Emmy Award nominees. The cast attends a special performance at the Laugh Factory comedy club, which is followed by a freewheeling discussion with the night's performers.

Wednesday, July 16th

Episode 7: Los Angeles Part 2 -- Directed by Jerome Gary. The second leg of their Los Angeles sojourn offers the cast a look at the city's charms and contradictions, as they travel from beach to barrio. Visiting one of the city's major mosques, they meet with the public relations director and discuss the realities of life in the U.S. after 9/11. The city's culture of self-improvement can be seen in multiple venues, from yoga classes on the West Side to the "gang rehab" services offered by the nonprofit organization Homeboy Industries in downtown L.A.

Wednesday, July 23rd

Episode 8: Big Sur Part 1 -- Directed by Jerome Gary. The cast and crew drive north on California's winding Highway 1 to Big Sur and their next destination: the Esalen Institute, a haven for alternative ideas since the 1960s. After meeting Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy, the cast takes part in an open forum about Middle East-U.S. relations. Ali and Mohamed let down their emotional guards during a group discussion moderated by author/teacher Byron Katie.

Wednesday, July 30th

Episode 9: Big Sur Part 2 -- Directed by Jerome Gary. The Esalen conference on Middle East-U.S. relations continues, with contributions from Congressman Sam Farr as well as members of the Big Sur community. The political gives way to the personal, as Ali, Lara and Mohamed discuss their experiences together in a relaxed group forum. The American leg of the production wraps up, and the remaining cast and crew gather at the Bay Area home of series creator Jerome Gary for a farewell dinner.

Wednesday, August 6th

Episode 10: Cairo -- Directed by Jerome Gary. Several members of the "On the Road" production team travel to the Middle East to visit the erstwhile travelers in their home countries. In Egypt, Ali introduces Lara and his new American friends to his family and shows off his hometown, Cairo. Ali's family and friends discuss their perceptions of how he has changed since returning from the U.S. The group enjoys Ramadan celebrations, a tour of the pyramids and a sailing trip on the Nile.

Wednesday, August 13th

Episode 11: Dubai and Beirut -- Directed by Jerome Gary. Sanad shows the Americans around Dubai, where modernity co-exists with tradition and a tourist itinerary includes skiing and dune buggy excursions. On the campus of the American University in Dubai, Sanad and his friends discuss his travels in the U.S. and the larger topic of American hegemony. The Middle East tour concludes in Beirut with visits to Lara and Mohamed. We meet Lara's mother and her husband, an interior decorator who is designing their new home. Mohamed takes the Americans inside the medical clinic he helped establish in one of the city's oldest refugee camps. A hot-air balloon trip offers a bird's-eye view of the damage wreaked by the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Wednesday, August 20th

Episode 12: Indiana and Wisconsin/Pilot -- Directed by Jerome Gary. The pilot episode of the series shows how "On the Road in America" began. Ali and his fellow cast members, Imad Ghalayini and Mohammed Bachouti, travel to the heart of the Midwest to experience America in time-honored fashion: the road trip. Their route takes them to a major city, Indianapolis, as well as the quaint small town of Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

Sundance Channel

Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel is the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different. Bold, uncompromising and irreverent, Sundance Channel offers audiences a diverse and engaging selection of films, documentaries, and original programs, all unedited and commercial free. Launched in 1996, Sundance Channel is a venture of NBC Universal, CBS, and Robert Redford. Sundance Channel operates independently of the non-profit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, but shares the overall Sundance mission of encouraging artistic freedom of expression. Sundance Channel's website address is http://www.sundancechannel.com.

Layalina Productions

Layalina Productions, Inc. is a non-profit corporation based in Washington, D.C. Layalina was founded in March 2002 by its Chairman, Richard Fairbanks, the former chief U.S. negotiator for the Middle East Peace Process, to produce thoughtful Arabic and English language television programming. The corporation's Board of Counselors comprises former diplomats and officials, broadcasters, and private sector executives from the United States. Layalina's educational, debate, entertainment, and children's shows aim to strengthen existing bridges of mutual understanding between the U.S. and the Arab world and build new ones. Layalina's President, Marc Ginsberg, is a former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco. Layalina's Honorary Chairman is former President George H.W. Bush. To learn more about Layalina, visit http://www.layalina.tv.

Visionaire Media

Visionaire Media is a Los Angeles based production company that specializes in reality based films and programming with redeeming values. Visionaire also operates an international consultancy and training division that specializes in media, storytelling, scenario planning and digital production. Currently in production are a series on Muslim Women, Life After Death - the journey of Carie Lemack (feature documentary), and Esalen (feature documentary). American Caravan, a 13 part series about young Americans on the road in the Middle East, is in preproduction in association with Layalina Productions. Visionaire Media is headed by Academy Award nominated producer Jerome Gary. For more, go to http://www.Visionairemedia.com.

SOURCE Sundance Channel
http://www.sundancechannel.com http://www.layalina.tv http://www.Visionairemedia.com





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