Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Episode 23 - “Iraqi Man”

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Losing a best friend. Zaid leaves.

If you missed me on Brian Lehrer Live, watch it here. I was lucky enough to appear with Zeyad from Healing Iraq whose blog is an amazing peak at Baghdad.

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Recap - Most Viewed, Most Discussed, etc.

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Nearly halfway through the online release of Hometown Baghdad, I wanted to take a moment to point out the blog posts and videos that have generated the most interest on our site.

Most Viewed Hometown Baghdad Episodes on Youtube

1. Songs of Pain

2. Symphony of Bullets

3. The Dentist

Most Viewed Posts on

1. Episode 11 - Saif Heart Noor
2. The first three webisodes of Hometown Baghdad
3. Episode 10 - Mentally F’ed Up

Most Discussed Posts on

1. The first three webisodes of Hometown Baghdad
2. Security
3. Saif Heart Noor

A message from our Iraqi Director

Monday, April 9th, 2007

A note we received from the director of Hometown Baghdad, Ziad Turkey:

We followed our characters in their homes. We heard their secrets and their terrible miseries that have resulted from the situation in Iraq. We, as a film crew, began to feel that we were all partners in our decisions, crises, fears, depressions, social pressures, security problems and our inclinations to pursue an unknown future. We did our best to observe and capture the events, and not be part of them. However, we felt for a moment that there was nothing separating us from our subjects, except for our technical duties. And we’ve ended up with the same destiny.

When I was shooting one of the subjects as he packed his bag, I could feel my heart shivering. I even began feeling nervous behind the camera. How emotional the thought of packing is! I curse packing and I curse wars! “Where are you going, my friends?” I used to ask them. “Shouldn’t you wait a little more?” But I say to myself and to my memory full of images of war and death, “that’s enough!” My hometown is not safe anymore. I must look for a place where I can prevent my head from rolling in my children’s sights.
-Ziad Turkey

Today is the four year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Originally, we had thought about releasing the videos starting today because of how Baghdad-specific our project was. We ended up going with March 19th but I wanted to post this note in recognition of what so many Iraqis are feeling now.

On an interesting side note, four years ago, a combination of Americans and Iraqis pulled down the iconic statue of Saddam in Fardus Square.

And members of our crew helped rebuild its replacement.

A note from our Iraqi producer

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

We are overwhelmed by the positive response to Hometown Baghdad. Every note and every positive press mention that we receive shows us that not only did our participants want to speak to the world but that the world wanted to hear what they had to say. And the conversations that have sprung up in the blog’s comments, both argumentative and friendly, tell us that we need dialogue and understanding.

I want to post this note that we received from our Iraqi producer Fady after I sent him one particularly nice feedback letter. He writes:

Dear all -

I am extremely moved and inspired by all the warm feedback that we are getting on several blogs and websites. It is giving me energy and strength to bear the nightmares that I am living and the ones I dream of at night. It was an honor for me to help in bringing out these messages from Baghdad to the outer world, despite of all the dangers we face everyday.
Thank you, Mike, for keep sending me the feedback.


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Assorted News about the series

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

We have been getting some really nice feedback from viewers of the series. And I’m happy to see the…uhhh…active conversations in our comments. I’m putting together a post with some particularly interesting posts to the comments. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories and their opinions. And here are some updates:

  • Ausama from Hometown Baghdad wrote an article on the always great Alive in Baghdad.
  • With all of the great viewer feedback coming in, I decided to make an aptly titled “Viewer Feedback Page.” See it here.
  • Thanks to who has made closed-captioning versions of the videos available here.
  • Our video podcast is ready to go! You can subscribe to it by clicking this url- - or copying it into your favorite feed reader. Or you can search for us in iTunes.
  • Speaking of iTunes and video podcasts, we picked a winner in our Podcast logo contest. His name is Ahmed Naji and he manipulated the pictures we posted in a really interesting way. Thanks to everyone who submitted. Check out his contribution below and click it to subscribe to the podcast using iTunes.
    Podcast Logo

Hometown Baghdad to launch on

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

We at Chat the Planet are proud to announce that Hometown Baghdad will premiere on Monday, March 19th, on

Salon has a ridiculously long history (by internet standards) of amazing news, culture, and media coverage. And since we fit somewhere right in there, I think it’s a great match. Check out Salon on Monday for the webisodes. I’ll post them here, too, of course.

Read the full press release here
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Video Grabs from Hometown Baghdad

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Before our webisodes premiere on Monday, I thought I might share a couple of video grabs from the series. I hope that these give a taste of what’s to come. I keep thinking to myself, “The everyday life of regular Iraqis is the great untold story of the Iraq War.” We as Americans know so little about what a 23 year old student does when they get up in the morning. What do laugh at? What are they afraid of? Hopefully, this series will tell these stories. So enjoy the pictures and come back on Monday to hear these Iraqi voices.
Update: At the genius advice of Tish over at Ugotrade, I’ve added an audio clip of the song that is being played in the third video grab down. Click on the picture to hear what has happening when that frame was being captured by our cameras.
Adel playing poolAusama and friends on a rare outing to a restaurant

Click on the picture to hear the song!Saif and friends playing guitar
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Help us redesign our podcast logo

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

After the dialogue on our blog about our choice of a background image for the podcast logo, we decided to give it another shot. But this time, we want you to redesign it. Since it’s for the iTunes podcast logo, it needs to be 300×300. And keep in mind, the logo will be tiny so make the font big enough to read. And since we really like the font that was used in the past logo, I’m including a PNG frame of the series open. Feel free to grab that and incorporate it. Send in your redesigns to me at and I’ll post them here. And by the beginning of next week, if we get one that we think is more appropriate for the series, we’ll use it.

As I get pictures in from our team in Baghdad, I’ll post them here so you can use those pics if you like.

PNG File

And you may want to read the legalese in our terms and conditions that says that if you give us anything, you’re giving us the right to use it.

Update: We have two pictures for designers to work with courtesy of our crew in Baghdad.

Photo taken by Ziad Turkey

Photo taken by Ziad Turkey

Update: We have received four more pictures of Baghdad. Thanks, Saif!