As the success of 24 has proven, America is ready to see TV tackle terrorism. But the creators of ABC's new drama Threat Matrix (debuting Sept. 18 at 8 pm/ET) are walking on eggshells nontheless. Exec producer Daniel Voll says one of his top concerns is making sure the show portrays Muslims in a fair way; and that means there will be good guys and bad guys of every color and creed.
"We just have a feeling that the world of terrorism is an equal-opportunity employer," Voll says. "We're tracking down everything from SARS to following stories out of Iraq, to being on college campuses. And sometimes we'll end up finding that the perpetrators will be kids in Nebraska. So we don't go into this with a formal definition of what we think a terrorist looks like."
Case in point: Producers cast Arab-American actor Anthony Azizi as a member of the elite anti-terrorist task force led by James Denton and Melrose Place's Kelly Rutherford. Having played and auditioned for his share of evildoers, Azizi proclaims his Matrix role "the first Arab-American Muslim character on [a television series] that's a good guy.
"He's a very positive, loving, caring Arab American who loves his country," Azizi raves. "There's a billion [of us] in the world who follow a certain edict and don't espouse violence."