Facebook Twitter

Egypt hopes Fox special will promote more tourism

SHARE Egypt hopes Fox special will promote more tourism

Over and over again, those involved with "Opening the Lost Tombs" insisted their two-hour special will look different from what viewers have come to expect on cable and PBS.

"We are going to show a different vision of Egypt than has been shown on Discovery and the Learning Channel," said supervising producer Nancy Stern.And why is that so important? One word -- tourism.

"It is important to us as Egyptians because we know that tourism is very important to us," said Zahi A. Hawaas, the country's undersecretary of state for the Giza Plateau. And the chance to be on a major American broadcast network makes it that much more important.

"I have been involved for the past 11 years in the pyramids," Hawaas said. "And I did many films for Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, things like that. And I see always there is a very limited number of people who see these programs."

Hawaas said he lectures all over the United States in addition to teaching at UCLA every summer, which has given him a perspective on how American TV works.

"I found out that it is very important that (a) network has to do this," he said. "When networks do a show, they put (in) spices. Discovery Channel, you eat food without salt and pepper. The network is the salt and pepper that will make everyone to sit in front of the TV and learn about Egypt."

And, with any luck, a lot of them will travel to Egypt and spend a good deal of their money.

As for the folks at salt-and-pepperless Discovery, they aren't holding a grudge, but they are a bit skeptical about the whole "Opening the Lost Tombs" project.

"Well, certainly any exposure about Egypt is good," said Emily Teeter, an Egyptologist who was a member of the team that produced the upcoming special "Cleopatra's Palace: In Search of a Legend" for Discovery. "The Egyptian government is very, very eager for people to learn about Egypt. They want to promote tourism, of course."

But, while she has no objections to Fox's special, she isn't so sure its going to be worth much.

"The premise of that particular show is quite curious," Teeter said. "The monument that they're opening has been available for several thousand years. And so from an academic point of view, we don't have a lot of faith that this is going to be particularly interesting.