A Jordanian media firm hopes its new TV cartoon series can achieve what politicians have failed to do so far: bridge the cultural divide between East and West.
It sounds like a tall order, but the Rubicon firm named after the river Caesar crossed to establish the Roman Empire is armed with an equally mighty motto: “to embark on a mission from which one cannot turn back.”
Even more important is that the cartoon, called “Ben and Izzy” and aimed at 8 to 11 year olds, has royal backing from Jordan’s media savvy rulers, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, who have made it their goal to promote tolerance.
Rania will showcase Jordan’s first TV cartoon export in New York on May 8 at a black-tie dinner she’s hosting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. American media ‘royalty,’ like Barbara Walters and Katie Couric, are expected to be on hand.
“Ben and Izzy has all the right ingredients,” Rania told The Associated Press. “It uses the fun medium of a children’s cartoon, promotes important intercultural understanding and educates our children as well.”
“It’s all about partnership. This isn’t about East telling West, or West telling East, but rather East and West putting their heads together and figuring out what’s best for us both,” she added. [article]
Two words: wicked cool! On their website there are a few cool guest stars on the show including, now get this, Mark Twain, Ibn Al-Haytham and Al-Kindi.
Can it get cooler? Hell yes. If I’m getting this right Lucy Lui will be the voice of Yasmine and Mark Hammil (aka Luke Skywalker from Star Wars) will be doing Professor John “Jake” Martin.
“Izzy” Aziz is the Jordanian character whose full name is Issam Aziz but goes by the nickname of Izzy.
The show is done in the 3D stylings of Pixar type animations like “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story”. It’s cost around $6 million so far, mainly from Jordanian investors.
Both Americans and Jordanians have come together to make this show happen. Headed up by David Pritchard who once produced both “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” as well as a creative team of Iraqis, Jordanians, and Palestinians.
The gala on May 8th will basically be pitching it to networks in the U.S. and abroad. They’ll get to see a 4 minute clip from the pilot episode where Ben and Izzy travel back in time to meet Mark Twain who travelled to Petra in Jordan when he was a young writer.