ABC has ordered a pilot to the single-camera comedy Funny in Farsi. The show has Emmy-winner Barry Sonnenfeld attached to direct and executive produce.
Funny in Farsi is based on Firoozeh Dumas’ memoir, Farsi, which is inspired by the Iranian-born author’s experiences growing up in Newport Beach, California, during the 1970s, a decade marked with tumultuous relations between the United States and Iran.
The book was adapted by Jeffrey Hodes and Nastaran Dibai (According to Jim). The duo also wrote the script for the pilot.
Dumas was 7-years-old when her father, an engineer, moved her family from Iran to the U.S.
Sonnenfeld won an Emmy for his directing work on ABC’s Pushing Daisies He first saw Farsi last season when ABC gave it a director-contingent pilot order in February, but the network shelved it after the director was not available.
Sonnenfeld since has set up shop at ABC, inking a two-year first-look deal last month with the network and ABC Studios. Under the pact, he is expected to direct and executive produce Farsi and another pilot for the network –most likely a drama.
He worked as a cinematographer for the Coen Brothers, then later directed and produced big budget films such as Men in Black.
ABC is not the first broadcast network to take a stab at developing a comedy revolving around Iranian Americans. During the 2002-03 TV season, British Iranian comedian Omid Djalili co-wrote a sitcom for NBC in which he starred as an Iranian professor transplanted to New York and working at his brother’s diner. The start of the Iraq War derailed the project and was never picked up.
Djalili went on to co-star on the network’s dismal comedy Whoopi.
In an interview, Dumas stated what she would like people to know about Iran:
“I want non-Iranians to know that there is a lot more to Iranians than what they see on the evening news,” she says. “I want them to know that we have a lively culture full of humor, depth, hospitality, music, raucous weddings and food good enough to make you weep (I’m not talking about kaleh pacheh. That will make you weep for a different reason.)
We certainly don’t sit around all day talking about religion and politics. I want Iranians to remember that too. It’s easy to succumb to doom and gloom since we have all lost so much since the revolution but let us not forget that the best aspects of our culture are within us.”
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