Post-iftar eyes are trained on TN Communications programming
CAIRO: If you are one of those people who eat a great amount of food around 5:40 every evening, you probably find it difficult to move for a good three hours thereafter. In Ramadan this is not considered sloth or gluttony; on the contrary it is encouraged and considered good etiquette. Post iftar entertainment comes, conveniently, to every local citizen through terrestrial television, which experiences an immense improvement during the holy month.
This is appropriate as the vast majority of the Egyptian population is usually surrounded by extended family, drinking tea and lazing in front of the TV all at the same time.
One of the main programming gurus, Tarek Nour (TN Communications), has been taking the full limelight during that critical period right after iftar from about 6:00-8:00 p.m. for about a decade. These peak hours are jam packed with fun shows and a whole lot of expensive advertisement slots.
This year they have put together a new package of shows, canceling people’s favorite “El-Kamera El-Khafiya (Candid Camera).
“Enough. it’s not that we’re bored of making it but it’s been done and done. We wanted to try new things this time, give people a break, says Karim Nour, Tarek Nour’s son who, after gradating from New York University business school, has gotten very involved in the company both as head of programming and director of corporate management.
This year’s line up begins with a one-minute message from Sheikh Khaled El-Gindy, an advocate of moderation. The segment zooms in on the sheikh, who promotes and explains something new every day using a common sense approach rather than a preachy tone.
“We are using Ramadan’s high viewership to do what we can to promote peace between Muslims and Christian in Egypt, says Nour.
Following this short segment is the new talk show “El Nas Wi Ana (The People and Me) starring the respected and well-loved Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy. The show tackles social issues from suicide, domestic abuse to plastic surgery.
Many celebrities make guest appearances on the show, but it mostly centers on real people with real problems. Finding the show’s guests requires a big operation. “There is a whole team that finds the people, with lots of research cooperation from the police and with journalists, explains Nour.
Following this program is Egypt’s first real sitcom, Tamer and Shawkiya. This funny show revolves around a son of the upper class marrying a vulgar “baladi girl after many family conflicts.
Despite starring Ahmed El-Fishawy, who has received much bad publicity lately, the show is a great hit. “It’s doing well in Lebanon especially, says Nour. This show is also showing on Future, a Lebanese satellite TV station.
The final show in the line up is “El-Mahkama or star court. An actor is accused of something, usually straight from the tabloids, and brings in another actor as a lawyer. The final punishment is something fun like having the star drive a taxi all day or perform other forms of community service.
This Ramadan, in addition to the shows broadcast locally, TN Communications has put together its first musalsal (drama show) entitled “Cinderella and sold exclusively to Lebanese satellite channel LBC.
Cinderella is the biggest and highest budget TV production ever in Egypt. It explores the life of Egyptian star Soad Hosny. “She’s our Marilyn Monroe; we’ve been working on this project for two years now, says Nour.
In the leading role is popular actress Mona Zaki. During the 30-day show many of the country’s top stars make cameo appearances including Ahmed El-Saka and Midhat Saleh.
The show will be aired on terrestrial TV after Ramadan.
Also for satellite, TN Communications has put together a condensed 15-day version of the talent scout show Star Maker to show on Orbit cable TV, and possibly locally towards the end of Ramadan.
When watching TV in Ramadan, even if you don’t watch any of these shows, watch for TN Communications advertisements. The company started out decades ago as advertisers, and the company is still behind many of the advertisements on TV. “Our advertising department is bigger than ever, says Nour.
Nour has been extremely busy since he started working with his father. Besides working on programming, green lighting projects, producing, hiring directors, coordinating production, coming up with ideas and scripts and basically “making TV, he was also heavily involved in the launching of the company in Sudan.
Over a year ago, TN Communications opened a branch in Sudan for advertising as well as a production house.
In the works is a plan, “to go pan-Arab whether in Dubai or Saudi Arabia in both advertising and media, says Nour.