Producers/CBC respond to Wikileaks cable comments on Border/Little Mosque

Little Mosque

You’re joking, right?

Or are those U.S. Embassy officials in Ottawa who told Washington, D.C. In diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks that Little Mosque on the Prairie (pictured) and The Border offered negative stereotypes of Americans just humorless?

Those are the questions in the air after the Wikileaks U.S. cable revelations pointed to discussions about the CBC series and their portrayals of U.S. border agents.

“It’s surprising for us to learn that someone at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa was watching our series so carefully and writing reports to the State Department,” Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures, an executive producer of The Border, told Playback Daily.

“And it’s surprising that a fictional TV show was considered damaging to US-Canada relations,” he added.

And how damaging.

One four-page cable in 2008 introduced special agent Bianca LaGarda, a Homeland security officer played by Sofia Milos, with more than a hint of a TV review: “Episode Two expands on this theme, featuring the arrival of an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female DHS officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and Cruella De Vil.”

“Well there’s no such thing as a bad review. But this is a very late review,” Raymont adds.

WestWind Pictures’ Mary Darling, who executive produces Little Mosque on the Prairie, is another producer left puzzled by the U.S. diplomatic analysis of her fictional TV show.

“On the one level, I just smile. That’s what you get for trying,” she says as Little Mosque attempts to break down us vs. them barriers in the west.

But on another level, Darling is left frustrated after one U.S. Embassy official objected to a 2007 depiction of a U.S. consular clerk by Dave Foley in a Little Mosque episode.

“He’s (Foley) frankly the only sane person in the scene. Babar finds himself on the U.S. no-fly list because he’s afraid of flying,” she insisted.

Kirstine Stewart, interim executive vice president of English language TV at the CBC, denied the charge of “negative popular stereotyping” leveled by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa against her TV series, as contained in the diplomatic cables.

“It’s an ironic comment, since Little Mosque was inducted into the Museums of Radio and Television Science, both in New York City and Los Angeles as a ‘groundbreaking’ show, and the format was sold in the U.S.,” she argued.

What’s more, Stewart said The Border and Little Mosque could hardly be offensive to Americans if they were finding a solid TV audience stateside.