Jeremy Irons plays a brutal, scheming Khamenei in upcoming movie


by FG

You’d hardly expect Hollywood to make a great movie about life under Khamenei.  Fortunately cable channels are more adventurous in avoiding teen-oriented junk and special effects in favor of outstanding casts, adult scriptwriting and capable directors.

The upcoming Showtime series to which I allude will not be about Khamenei directly. However, it will likely be seen by Iranians as having allegorical value.  The series deals with Khamenei’s historical counterpart--a Pope whose family who acquired control of the Papacy during the Italian Renaissance.

Clothed in red garments and cap and clutching a crucifix actor Jeremy Irons stares out intensely at the reader of a magazine ad.  To his left and right, equally sinister looking types stare at the reader. The ad reads, "Jeremy Irons Is Pope Alexander: Sex, Power, Murder, Amen.

"The Borgias: The Original Crime Family: premiers on April 9th at 9 pm EST on Showtime. New episodes will appear on subsequent Sundays at 10 pm. In case the regime censors spot the allegorical implications, you can expect a DVD release later.

The Borgia’s aim will sound familiar to Iranians--to turn the highest position in a religion into a hereditary, temporal and absolute monarchy,  Khamenei would like to have his son--whom I've nicknamed Murderous Mojtaba aka Little Caligula--as the next occupant of a clerical throne.  As you watch the series think of Mojtaba as a male Lecretia Borgia.  Ponder its subtitle (“The Original Crime Family”) and notice how closely the “holy” men around Khamenei (Jannati, Ahmed Khatami, Taeb, Mesbah and Mohammed Yadzi, etc.) resemble the “holy men" around Alexander.

I know enough papal history to suspect Iranians and Arabs will find much of relevance. Too bad Iranians in 1979 lacked a similar background or they might not have been so easily conned by seductive promises that the guys in turbans would behave morally if given absolute power.

The muslim world owes Khamenei a debt for discrediting the dumb idea of allowing clerics to rule.  Returning to their countries, long-time Islamists rush to reassure people, "We don't want to make (name the country) into another Iran."   Likewise, Khoumeini returned from Paris and promised democracy, human rights and a regime that would listen to the people.   Clerics!  Don't trust a word they say.

See my sub post for a link to the program and links to related goodies.


more from FG

" I, Claudius" is a Gem,

by bushtheliberator on

and the story aside, a " Murders Row " of acting talent brings an appreciation for their craft.


Thanks, DK. Absolutely no coincidence

by FG on

TV media in three countries--France, Italy and the USA--are all making series about the Borgia's at the same time.  As usual in such cases, a CIA conspiracy will be blamed.  Doesn't the latter wish it were so omnipotent and influential? 

England's Queen Elizabeth I has always movie studios and authors. --this woman who became the country's greatest monarch of all and juggled numerous threats at home and abroad, all from men who underestimated her.   Now the Borgias are becoming a similar magnet.  Why now at this time? 

Historically there really is such a thing as "an idea whose time has come."  It appears as a tidal wave and are accelerated thesee days by modern technology.  The Reformation broke out in several places at once with John Hus having a fatal early start a few years before Luther.  In that case the printing press and the translation of the Bible into vernacular helped move things along.   

A second historical example is the European Enlightenment, partly spurred on by revulsion over witch trials, the Inquisition and especially the brutal Thirty Years War in Germany.   A third example was the Age of Imperialism, spurred on by industrialism and the rise of modern nations, with its heyday from 1870 to 1914.

Once people grow deeply disenchanted with their rulers or major institutions, they will begin to look for historical parallels.  TV in an ideal mechanism for this, especially a riveting and and long series. Word of mouth spreads and the series becomes a "must see."   The viewer doesn't have to be highlly literate or a bibliophile to be drawn in or to catch the similarity.  You don't have to be highly literate or a frequent reader to access it. Nowhere is that similarity greater than in the cas of scheming Islamist dictators like Khamenei.

All of today's dictators, clerical or secular, share certain common factors in their behavior.  One of the most striking is how Khamenei has his Mojtaba,then  Mubarak his Gamal, Ghaffafi his two "heirs" and the toupee-wearing, high-heeled self-parody in north Korea a trio of such offspring with one son favored. 


Can't find a better

by Shemirani on

Can't find a better comparation, Iran today froze somewhere between in middle age and renaissance !

and if Khamenei is the Pope

A.N is Savonarole (a crazy illuminated)


and Karoubi could be someone like Sean connery in the name of rose ! a man of faith who realised how unhuman his religious brother can be !!

(The question is how and when we get out of this to join 21 century )


I like your 'uncouth'

by vildemose on

I like your 'uncouth' friend's Idea very much...


New Year's Gifts for Supreme Leader. Suggestions please.

by FG on

I have two ideas: 

A) A large, extra strength tube of deodorant


B) A supply of BENO (prevents gas when you eat beans).

Whichever you choose, don't forget to include the rationale with the gift: "For a man who stinks up our country!"


A. Dartboard with Khamenei's photo.

B. Toilet paper with same.

The problem is that both would be hard to make inside Iran or to smuggle from outside. So I asked a friend who is a bit uncouth for ideas.   Here's what he suggested.

1. Seek out as many Khamenei posters as possible.  

2. "Empty onself" on posters and smear well.

3. Toss from rooftops or hang on walls to express one's "respect."



Some links to whet your appetites

by FG on





See for yourself:

Reversal of Fortune--Irons won an academy award for his portrayal of real-life aristocrat Klaus Von Bulow, accused of murdering his wife.

Longitude--a historical drama about the race to discover the life and death secret of longitude.


Like Khamenei and his cohorts, western popes enjoyed and abused earthly power but for a much longer time. As in Iran, that had to change before the West could modernize. Eventually mass revulsion over clerical excess led to the Reformation and the anti-clerical “enlightenment” whose writers have great appeal in Iran today. The Church did not “give it up” without spilling blood. The final blow--the loss of the Papal States in the 19th century Italy--allowed Popes to concentrate on spiritual matters rather instead of how to protect acquired fiefs. I recommend the following book and you’ll find links to others here:



Khamenei started out poor but clerical rule has made him and supporting clerics into Iranian Rockefellers. Who cares how if the people struggle by comparison? Just to the right on the following homepage you’ll find a three-part series on well Khameini and family are doing these days. Note the nearby story: half of Iran’s population is below the poverty line. Considering how relatively poor Turkey, South Korea and China were at the the time of the 1979 revolution and where THEY stand today that’s amazing--especially since the first two have virtually no natural wealth. How could the ruling clerics fail to badly?




I, Claudius (from BBC’s Masterpiece Theater)



From the description: This superbly acted, mordantly funny romp through 70 years or so of Roman history is one of the best-loved miniseries ever made, and deservedly so. Derek Jacobi plays Roman Emperor Claudius, who reflects in old age on his life and his remarkable family, giving us a history lesson that's unlike anything you learned in school.

(I also recommend you also read some of the reader reviews there).

The three top-rank, actors shown on the cover are, from left to right: John Hurt (Caligula/Mojtaba), Derek Jacobi (the stuttering Claudius) and Patrick Stewart (Sejanus, Jafari). The series is loaded with other fascinating villains, all played by talented actors.

Warning: Don't be put off by the first episode which begins a bit slow. After that, the series accelerates like a roller coaster. You'll want to see what happens next and how schemes work out. Relevance to Iran: For good reasons most Iranians hate the ruling clerics these days. Posters claim Ahmadinejad himself--aware of that--has begun distancing himself. In Rome note how useful puppets (Sejanus, the Praetorian Guard) repeatedly became ambitious and a threat to absolute rulers who relied on them.  

Of Ahmadinejad, Khamenei's dilemna resembles: what some men say of women "can’t live with him, can’t live without them.”   I'm not sure the reverse is true any longer.