Coming soon to Iraqi TV: million-dollar, sixty-second, public service announcements, featuring "exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and... messages like 'Don't Suicide Bomb.'"Newsweek reports from "an industrial block in downtown LA [turned] into a busy Baghdad square" -- the scene for a 120-camera shoot, designed to capture simulated carnage in the "frozen-in-time feeling" of "The Matrix." The spot is supposed to persuade wannabe insurgents to put down their IEDs. Never mind the fact that "the cost of owning a TV is often prohibitive for the average Iraqi."
At least 60 extras dressed in hijabs, kaffiyehs and polyester-wool blend slacks were herded onto the set to simulate an average shopping day. But there was hardly any Arabic spoken on this Baghdad street. Spanish, Punjabi and even Italian could be heard as extras gathered around the Kraft services table to munch on chips and guacamole. When asked if he is Iraqi, Bidkar Ramos, an extra on the set, laughs. "No, I'm Chinese and Mexican, he says. Like most of these people, I'm just a look-alike."Onlookers were later asked to stand back as the pyrotechnic crew blew up a poor old Yugo coupe and stunt men and women, padded under their Arab garb, were thrust into the air with ropes and pulleys to simulate the impact of a bomb exploding...This pricey and unorthodox attempt to subdue the violence is backed by a group of mystery donors. "I call them an independent, non-governmental group of scholars, non political people," says Plotkin. "Some may live in Iraq, some may live abroad. For a variety of different reasonsfrom safety concerns to wanting the focus to remain on the issue itself, they decided to remain anonymous."(Big ups: PRK)