‘On the Road in America’: Can a Reality Travel Show Improve the Image of the U.S.?
Travel Blog • Michael Yessis • 02.02.07 | 1:16 PM ET
Don’t think “The Amazing Race.” Think Al Jazeera meets MTV. According to the New York Times that’s what “On the Road in America,” which “features a caravan of young, good-looking Arabs crisscrossing America on a mission to educate themselves and the people they encounter along the way,” resembles on first viewing. The 12-part series is the brainchild of Layalina Productions, which the Times describes as a nonprofit, nonpartisan group with an advisory panel featuring the likes of former President George H.W. Bush, Iraq Study Group co-chairman Lee Hamilton and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Jacques Steinberg writes in the Times:
Implicit in the series’s mission, if not spoken aloud, is a desire to correct whatever damage has been done to America’s standing in the Middle East by the Iraq war and the nearly four-year American military presence in that country. But the production, financed mostly through foundations and without government help, also seeks to counter the image of America often conveyed to the Arab world via Hollywood: that of an arrogant, self-absorbed, bellicose nation.
In the meantime, only viewers of the MBC, an Arab satellite TV network, can see the show. Some clips are online—the Times has posted an excerpt, and Layalina’s Web site features a preview—but the show won’t be broadcast in the U.S., though the producers have their eye out for a domestic distributor.
Photo: Leon Shahabian, Layalina Productions.