Thursday, 22 July 2010

Getting Real about Chasing Mummies “reality” show

Getting Real about Chasing Mummies “reality” show: "I have not posted anything about Chasing Mummies so far because I find the show cheap and contrived with little to do about Egyptology. But the following excerpt from York Dispatch says it all and much better.

Hawass is a very big deal in his field and a superstar in his country. And he didn’t get there by being Dr. Nice Guy. (In Chasing Mummies) He’s a tyrant with a short fuse, and he detonates in nearly every other scene.

When not exploding, Hawass betrays an avuncular nature, nurturing young female interns in the ways of Egyptology. Often in tight spaces. But at his most entertaining, he’s a shouter, a screamer, a terminator, if you will. If you can imagine an older, slightly sun-baked Omar Sharif-type portraying the Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld,” you’ve come close to picturing our mummy chaser.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"


Anonymous said...

Yes, the show is contrived, fake, and obviously all staged. One wonders if Zahi's behavior is as well, or if he's really that way when the cameras are not rolling. Anybody know?

The young female "intern" is actually Zoe D'Amato (, an actress/model hired to play the part. Searching YouTube will get you half a dozen auditions for parts on this show.

Unknown said...

Jane, she is not an actress, please correct this misinformation, you are well aware how the casting worked, cheers NJH

Jane Akshar said...

Nigel you can not blame people for saying that, it is on her website. How can I correct her website

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that reality shows have to invent all that "drama", when in "reality" there is a lot of "real" drama when you are exploring the temples and tombs of Ancient Egypt. Read my blog about Zahi and his TV show Chasing Mummies...

Glenn Meyer said...

There was an especially dead-on preview of the show in the New York Times. Excerpts follow.


Television Review | 'Chasing Mummies'
The Pharaoh of Egyptian Antiquities
Courtesy of Boutique TV, Inc.

Published: July 13, 2010

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, seems to get his name in the papers and his face on television every time anyone sticks a shovel in the ground there.
The resulting fame — the man has become ubiquitous on history-heavy American cable channels — has apparently given Dr. Hawass, like many celebrities before him, the mistaken impression that any sort of personal behavior will be embraced by his adoring public, because he sure is obnoxious on “Chasing Mummies,” an annoying new show that begins Wednesday night on History.

Dr. Hawass has allowed a History crew to tag along as he does what he does, but, at least from the evidence of the premiere, this does not result in many revelations about the science of archaeology. It results instead in a fair amount of footage of Dr. Hawass verbally abusing those around him: the film crew, college-age interns who have come to worship at his feet, and so on. Any infraction, or no infraction at all, seems sufficient to warrant one of Dr. Hawass’s tirades.

The show is also intent on forcing drama into the proceedings in a way that seems artificial. In the opening installment, an intern and a cameraman become stuck in a pyramid tunnel, but the bit feels about as genuine as one of those fake injuries we kept seeing in the World Cup.

Sure, some Egyptology occasionally creeps into this irksome spectacle. In the opening episode Dr. Hawass finds a never-before-breached sarcophagus, a rare thing these days, and when it is opened, he imparts interesting tidbits about why this mummy is not in very good shape. But this scene doesn’t last as long as you want it to; gotta go look for someone else to dress down.

There are two possibilities here. One is that the program is accurately capturing Dr. Hawass’s personality. The other is that, as on many reality shows, the people in this one are putting on personas that they think will make good television, and Dr. Hawass, having studied his Simon Cowell and Donald Trump, has concluded that American audiences want to see underlings browbeaten. But there’s a big difference between enjoying Mr. Cowell’s antics in the artificial construct of “American Idol” and seeing the same thing out in the real world, where college kids are just trying to learn, and film crews are just trying to film.

Whichever explanation is correct, one hopes that this show will, like some of those ancient pharaohs, die young, or that Dr. Hawass will unearth some ancient Egyptian chill pills and swallow a generous helping.