The Arusha Times

Issue 00534

September 6 - 12, 2008

issn 0856 - 9135 

Front Page 1

After Will Smith, BBC makes appearance on local streets

By Staff Reporter

American rapper and actor Will Smith being led to the A-Z
Textile factory Arusha by the company's Chief Executive
Officer Anuj Shah (right).  The rapper is UNICEF's Goodwill
ambassador in the fight against malaria.  A - Z produces
insecticide treated bednets for local consumption and export. 
(Photo by Paul Sarwat)

Arusha is abuzz with top-notch, world class showbiz activities and several parts of the “Little Big  Town’ have  turned into a Hollywood of some sort.

Highly rated actors, performing under the auspices of the British Broadcasting Corporation are camping at The  Arusha  Hotel  to spearhead the success of a  situation comedy  (Sitcom) to be broadcast  worldwide  under the name of “Taking the Flak”.

But the crew and what they  intend to  do in Arusha became talk of the town only after  Will Smith, an American actor and rapper who has enjoyed success in three major entertainment media in the United States and described by the Newsweek as the most powerful actor on the planet,  had  left the hotel and Arusha  last weekend.  He was in the country  as UNICEF goodwill ambassador. He visited some health projects.

Shooting of Taking the Flak started  in Arusha  this week  and  will continue in various locations for two months  employing  hundreds of locals.

Pilot for Taking the Flak started to be filmed in January 2007 in Kenya, originally entitled The Calais Rules but the project was shifted to Arusha mainly because of the civil unrest that followed Kenya’s  last year’s  General Elections.

Two of the writers, Tira Shubart and Sandra Jones are journalists, and the series are filmed by an award-winning news cameraman. The show also features guest appearances from famous BBC journalists such as George Alagiah, Sophie Raworth and Dermot Murnaghan.  Others starring are Martin Jarvis, Doon Mackichan, Bruce Mackinnon, Rhashan Stone and  Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

Most of the storylines are based on Shubart's experiences working with John Simpson, who she worked with for eleven years. One of the show's main characters, David (played by Jarvis), is based partly on him.

The Sitcom coming out in 2009 is about a team of journalists reporting on a small African war.

But to the “delight” of  most Arushans,  the war will be fought in Arusha’s  streets  one of them  being  a street  off  Sokoine road  by the CRDB bank  running northwards  to Arusha’s  Central Bus Station, a perfect  location that may reminiscent  last month’s armed robbery  in that street.

Martin Jarvis                                                             Rhashan Stone

In the robbery incident, four armed, mean-looking gangsters, one of them a woman, stormed into  an  internet café  at about 4.00 pm,  ordered patrons to freeze,  shot  a  fishmonger nearby  and made away  with millions of shillings, an assortment of cell phones and airtime vouchers. The incident occurred a few paces from the CRDB bank along the busy Sokoine road.  

An attendant of the café   told reporters after the incident that when the four robbers entered   the café  she thought  they were just  normal customers  only to find herself being held by the  neck and a pistol  pointed to her body.  

But “Taking the Flak” will not be so real, mean and life threatening. It will be simply  a sitcom: An acerbic, authentic and caustic comedy that covers the entire progress of a small African war, as seen through the eyes of a team of journalists sending back the nightly reports for the BBC News at Ten.

According to information obtained  on the internet, the team includes the smooth, veteran correspondent; the harassed, but infinitely resourceful, producer; and the green and gauche rookie stringer, dropped into a hotel and forced to choose between a room on 'the shooting side' and 'the mortar side'.

The Hotel where part of the acting will take place  is the Equator off Boma Road, normally a favourite location  for receptions and a drinking hole for local and visiting executives. For the Sitcom purposes the hotel has been christened “The New Waterbuck Hotel”.

The  sitcom summary continues: “Journalists in war zones live in a state of perpetual bloody war - with themselves, their organisation, their colleagues, their competitors and their loved ones. So, if they can't get themselves embedded with the invading forces, they'll get embedded with each other.



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