George Kordahi: Entertaining Politics

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Kordahi had turned down numerous other offers made to him since he announced his resignation from MBC, choosing to sign a contract with Al-Hayat. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

By: Nada Mfarrej Said

Published Monday, June 11, 2012

The final countdown began for George Kordahi’s first show on the Egyptian Al-Hayat TV channel. Production is already underway for the seasoned Lebanese TV host’s show, which is set to air daily during Ramadan.

Kordahi had turned down numerous other offers made to him since he announced his resignation from Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), choosing to sign a contract with Al-Hayat.

Kordahi praises the Egyptian station, which in his opinion, “quickly rose to the top since its launching, occupying a prominent position among Egyptian channels. It has the capabilities, determination, and planning to restore Egypt’s media standing, which was degraded under Hosni Mubarak.”

He expresses his appreciation for every channel that wanted to hire him, “but what encouraged me to sign up with Al-Hayat for three years was its purchase of the rights to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire after MBC relinquished it a year ago.”

The new show The Millionaire will not be a replica of the older Arabic version which had elevated Kordahi’s profile across the region.

He says they will change a few things about the show. “It will be faster paced — the contestant will have 15 seconds to answer a question, he will not be able take his time, which will allow us to have four guests on each show.”

“We also eliminated the preliminary ‘Fastest Finger’ round, the method used in the older version to determine the lucky one who will participate in the game,” he adds.

Kordahi is shooting his show at a sensitive time in Egyptian history. However he sees what is happening in the country as a “healthy sign,” arguing that “these birth pangs are not worrisome because this is the logic of revolutions.”

He praises “the atmosphere of freedom in Egypt these days. Journalists today courageously ask questions, which was not the case under the previous regime.”

Other Lebanese TV hosts were also signed by Egyptian channels to appear during the Ramadan period. Nishan Derhartounian will be hosting a show, also on Al-Hayat TV, and Tony Khalife will have his own program on Al Kahera Wal Nas channel.

Kordahi does not interpret this as a sign of a lack of talent in the Egyptian media scene “because it has many qualified people, but it is a recognition of the stardom of Lebanese TV hosts.”

“Exchanging media personalities between the two countries is not new. Who doesn’t remember the Egyptian TV host Laila Rustum on Tele Liban?” he adds.

As for the rumor about his conversion to Islam which was spread on Twitter by a person who impersonated him, Kordahi says that he did not find the rumor either offensive or flattering.

“I would be honored to convert to Islam but I don’t see the need to do so because we have the same God in both religions (Christianity and Islam), which are influenced by each other,” he explains.

As for his political views (particularly on Syria) that preoccupied Arab public opinion for a while, Kordahi stresses that he has no regrets and that he would repeat today what he said in the past.

He added that he “expected from Saudi Arabia a rational and wise position on Syria that would avoid bloodshed because King Abdullah has always been a man of goodwill and he has always tried to bridge the gap between Arabs. I don’t know what changed in Saudi policy.”

He is fearful that Syria might slip into civil war which would be disastrous for the region. “It is the people who are paying the price today,” he says, “Those who criticized me thought that the [Syrian] regime would fall in a month.”

Kordahi does not think civil war will return to Lebanon by way of Syria: “If we return to a state of war, then it means we do not deserve this country.”

He downplayed the skirmishes in the North, saying that they will not lead to an all-out war. He counts on the “wisdom of the political leaders in this country.”

When asked if he will join the political class in the next parliamentary elections?

“We’ll see which electoral law will be adopted and I am willing to serve my country in any position. I have a vision for my country and its future and if I become an MP, I will work to make Lebanon the jewel of the East once more,” he declares.

We’ll have to take a close look at next year’s electoral lists to see if it is true that Kordahi will run for parliamentary elections on MP Michel Aoun’s Reform and Change list.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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