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HBO Planning Comedy Set in … Baghdad?

May 8, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Several cable networks have contemplated dramatic projects set against the war in Iraq, but only HBO is daring enough to consider a comedy.

The premium network is developing “Hotel Palestine,” a half-hour comedy about a group of wartime journalists living in a Baghdad hotel.

The Palestine Hotel is the real-life residence of dozens of journalists covering the war and has been attacked several times by insurgents. “Hotel Palestine” was sold by ICM and produced by Peter Baynham, a writer on the upcoming Ali G movie “Borat.”

If brought to air, the series would be one of the few war-themed comedy series in television history and one of very few in recent years. Shows such as 1960s staples “Hogan’s Heroes” and “McHale’s Navy” and, most significantly, 1970s-era “M*A*S*H,” succeeded with the format. Other efforts failed, such as the 1980 Vietnam sitcom “Six O’Clock Follies” and the 1998 Civil War effort “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.”

HBO had no comment on the project but last week announced a dramatic Iraq war movie, “Taking Chance” based on the first-person account of a lieutenant assigned to accompany the body of a 19-year-old solider killed in action on a trip across America to the soldier’s hometown.

“This film pays tribute to the everyday American men and women who have given their lives in Iraq,” said HBO Films President Colin Callender. “Regardless of one’s own politics, one cannot help but be humbled in the face of this ultimate sacrifice made by [Lance Corporal Chance Phelps] and his family.”

The movie is scheduled to start production this summer and debut in 2007.