ARAFAT, SHARON WALK OFF SET OF "ISRAEL"
Jerusalem (SatireWire.com) — Sources on the set of "Israel," history's longest-running drama, say irascible stars Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat angrily walked off the set today, complaining that the show's scriptwriters continually make their characters say and do stupid things.
"I'm supposed to be the Prime Minister of a country that's embroiled in this terrible conflict, where diplomacy and tact and wisdom should be important, but you people always have me playing this great pompous prat!" Sharon reportedly shouted before throwing his script on the ground and storming off to his trailer.
"I swear, if you hacks have me bulldozing one more Palestinian village, or making one more asinine, inflammatory comment, I'm filing a complaint with Actors Equity," he added.
Arafat was allegedly no less piqued at the way recent treatments have depicted the gruff, unlovable Palestinian chief he portrays.
"A few seasons ago, my character was an influential creep, but now the script calls for everyone, even my own people, to treat me like a neutered creep," grumbled Arafat as he sulked off to the small tent he's allowed to occupy on the remote outskirts of the set. "I'm starting to think they want to write me out of the series for next season."
While the show's producers insisted the temperamental stars were simply overwrought due to a tight production schedule, television critics said they too have found themselves wincing at times, particularly over Sharon's lines.
"It's like in a horror movie, when one of the characters is about to do something dumb like open a closet door or look under the bed, and you're watching and you want to scream, 'No, don't do it!'" said Los Angeles Times TV critic James Boldini. "Well, that's what they've done with the Sharon character. You're watching and you say, 'Oh God, don't say that!' But he always does."
"That's OK when it's Just Shoot Me or Married with Children, but this is supposed to be a reality-based drama," Boldini added.
Boldini also said the writing on the show has "definitely gone downhill" since the popular Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat were in the cast.
"A perfect example is that episode a couple of weeks back, when Sharon says he wished he had killed Arafat 20 years ago," he said. "I mean, c'mon, why would a head of state publicly say something so incendiary and stupid? He just wouldn't."
Viewers also expressed dissapointment. Peter Curlimo of Chicago rolled his eyes over a "particularly absurd" January installment.
"In previous episodes, they had set it up so Arafat has this great opportunity to make the world feel sorry for his people's cause and maybe put pressure on Israel, right?" said Curlimo. "But then they have his character blow it by secretly buying a big old arms shipment from Iran so he comes off looking like a total lying, conniving jerk."
"It's a basic rule of fiction," Curlimo added. "You have to make at least one of the main characters, if not likable, then at least a sympathetic figure. You'd think these writers would know that."
According to agent Lenny Waldman, who represents both Sharon and Arafat, the show's staff is also making a mistake by not letting the two characters evolve. Israel's writers, Waldman said, should take their cue from "America: The Series".
"The cool thing about America is they let the actors grow into the roles," Waldman said. "Like the George W. Bush character. Remember how early in the season he started out really bumbling, but then they let his character develop until, in that one climactic scene, the whole U.S. Senate officially declares him no longer goofy? Now that is compelling television."
According to Waldman, both Sharon and Arafat have announced they want their characters re-written before they will return. Israel, head writer Kent Loring, however, insisted it couldn't be done.
"What are we supposed to do, have Sharon suddenly turn around and say 'OK, let's try to work something out and make peace?'" Loring asked. "Or I'm gonna have Arafat suddenly do what he promises to do? That would be totally out of character and no one would believe it."
Loring denied rumors that in the season finale, Sharon will turn out to be Arafat's long-lost brother. However, he did say the final episode would be "explosive" and "definitely a can't miss."
But if "Israel" continues on the self-destructive path the writers seem bent on, the question in many viewers' minds is, "Will there be anyone left on the set to watch?"
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