New Reality Show To Determine next Lebanese president
"Get ready, Lebanese, because you're about to choose the man–or woman–who will lead Lebanon into an exciting democratic future," said FTV reality-programming chief Madakhalo, introducing the show at a press conference. "Will it be General Michele Aoun, leader of the ex-exiled Free Patriotic Movement? Or General Michele Solaiman, commander of the allied forces? Or maybe Rita Dakhalah, the waitress with big dreams and an even bigger voice? Tune in Tuesdays at 9 to see."
Describing the new show as "Superstar meets the reconstruction of Lebanon," Madakhalo said Appointed By The Lebanese will feature contestants squaring off in a variety of challenges, including a democracy quiz, a talent competition, and nation-building activities that will demonstrate their ability to lead a bombed-out, war-ravaged Mideast country.
A panel of celebrity judges will help eliminate two contestants each week, leaving one lucky winner the undisputed leader of Lebanon at the end of the season. Viewers can participate by casting phone-in votes, although Madakhalo noted that voting is restricted to calls originating from within Lebanon.
General Lahoud (after Retiring) will host the show under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense. The three celebrity judges, Madakhalo said, will be choreographer and former recording artist Rakasa Baladi, internationally renowned hairstylist Sha3ro Taweel, and television star Micho.
Audience members eagerly await the start of a live taping of Appointed By The Lebanese.
"They really get into it," Madakhalo said. "Just wait until you see the fur fly between Moawad and Basil."
FTV entertainment president Dakhalo said the network was inspired to create the show after witnessing its news division's ratings success over the past few months.
"FTV did such huge numbers with its recent events coverage, we figured, 'Why not find a way to keep this good thing going?'" Dakhalo said. "I'm confident that our loyal FTV News viewers will find that reconstruction can be just as thrilling as destruction."
The first episode has already been taped in front of a live studio audience, though results will remain classified until airtime. The winner of Appointed By The Lebanese will be sworn in as president of Lebanon on June 24 in a gala two-hour season finale broadcast live from Baabda.
According to Dakhalo, FTV received more than 3,000 applicants for the show during an open casting call. While most of the hopefuls were Lebanese, some 600 aspiring rulers from more than 100 nations auditioned for the coveted 20 finalist spots. Contestants included a Meten interior decorator, a Southern inner-city schoolteacher, and a peshmerga fighter from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
At a briefing Monday, Mr. Prime Minister gave his blessing to Appointed By the Lebanese.
"It is great that FTV will play a vital role in post-Syrian Lebanon," Sanyora said. "Heck, we didn't really know what we were going to do."