The Aftermath …


A few things have happened this week. All interlinked. Some good. Sort of.

We received an email. Here it is;

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By sending this, ATG have unwittingly made life difficult for themselves. To understand why, see our response;

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In a nutshell, ATG really did not think this through. It doesn’t surprise me. As manipulative as they are, they aren’t very smart. They clearly did not realise the real meaning of what they were writing. But there was another element to the email that made ATG’s position even weaker.

SIMON NEVER AGREED TO MONTHLY PAYMENTS AND HE WAS OUTRAGED.

To explain, Simon got a call from Ibrahim the night the email was to be sent. Ibrahim told Simon about the above email and asked Simon to say that he had agreed to monthly payments so it could go in the email. Simon said absolutely not. Ibrahim said something like, “Come on Simon. Help us out here.” Simon refused. Ibrahim push the matter but Simon continued to refuse. Ibrahim then said it was too late, the email had already been sent, and laughed! Simon was furious.

So Simon then sent out an email of his own.

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After which, he started getting calls from Talal and Ibrahim giving him an earful about how it was not their fault (!), and he was just being difficult!!!

This, of course, undermined their entire email.

But this email had another unexpected benefit — it was written by Issam, a fact we all knew because Ibrahim can barely string a sentence together in English and the writing was too masculine to have been written by Jude, so when we sat down with Issam and started to ‘joke’ about who it must have been written by, as much as Issam denied it, will all knew it was true. In fact, he looked very down.

Afterwards, I learnt from a third party just how much Issam is in trouble. He is owed over $40,000 by ATG. Further, in order to live in Qatar (which he does because his wife has a job here), he required a sponsor and that sponsor is Ahmed, the series creator. As Issam’s sponsor, Ahmed can prevent Issam from leaving the country. And since Ahmed and ATG are at loggerheads, Issam is caught in an impossible position.

I now realise Issam does what he does because he has no choice. He does exactly what ATG tells him because he knows they will not pay him if he does not. Essentially, they are blackmailing him. Meantime, he has to somehow appease his sponsor, Ahmed. His situation is impossible. It reflects poorly on Ahmed that, as Issam’s sponsor, Issam should never have been out in this position in the first place. Issam is the Line Producer. He is supposed to look after the investors’ interests. But he cannot because he is paid by the production company, ATG. It is a massive conflict of interest and the Qatari’s were beyond naive to have pout Issam in this position.

On an aside, Talal arrived yesterday. Apparently, his trip was planned before Chris quit. Although he was giving Simon an earful the night before about not agreeing to lie and say he approved monthly payments, he arrived looking like a pussycat. He said nothing about ATG’s email. He spent the day sitting with us, joking, suggesting to Ahmed that we move all interior locations and sets to Pinewood (which Ahmed flatly refused), and he bought a 4G router. We all thought the router was for us because we had said the internet here was lousy. But one hour later, none of us could use it. Talal had changed the password so only he could use it! In his defence, it had stopped working because too may of us were using it, but he could have said that and maybe allowed some of us to use it. But no. He’s a bit of a coward that way.

Oh, and about the 15 1515 numberplate on his brand new Range Rover. He claimed he had never noticed what it said, and that he has had it for 16 years. I suggested he at least change it to 151515 or he might get pulled over by the police. He seemed amused, “Is ISIS? … Cool….”

FOOTNOTE ADDED APRIL 19th, 2017.

Someone recently alleged to me that the whole production of “Medinah” is a front to finance ISIS. That the money goes from a Sheikh in Qatar to an off-shore account where ATG takes a cut and the rest is funnelled by ATG onto ISIS. This is a truly scary thought. I’ve been advised not to repeat this, but it needs to be said. If that is what was/is happening (personally, I doubt it), it needs investigating. ATG really needs to be put under the microscope.

The Truth Is Out……


So I’ve been promising a major bit of news and here it is.

After it all went off over the wages, Issam, Chris and Simon decided we should all have a meeting to discuss the email that we had sent (see below).

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As you will see, the email was to the point, factual, and decisive. It was written by more than one person, sent from an anonymous account so ATG could not victimise anyone, and signed alphabetically so they could not pinpoint a hierarchy.

The next day, ATG had a crisis meeting and on the Sunday they responded with this email;

Praxino Mail – Unpaid Wages

(click link above to see full email)

Praxino Mail - Unpaid Wages copy

It runs for several pages (4) and is remarkable in that it manages to turn our “to the point, factual, and decisive” email into something else. ATG clearly put a lot of work into this email. They must have, because there are so many lies. Not one thing in it is true. But let’s start with the rather bizarre insinuation that our email represents a conspiracy! Why did they do this?

The answer to this question is best represented by how Abdul began the meeting. He started by labouring the fact that ATG was concerned about the email because it suggested a conspiracy intended to sabotage the show (!) and that if we had problems he would rather we approach him one-on-one. Why did he say this? Because ATG like to bully and while they can bully individuals, they cannot bully a group. So Abdul’s statement had nothing to do with fixing problems and everything to do with “fixing us”.

But all of this is nothing compared to what happened half an hour into the meeting.

I think it was me who initially pushed the point about the fact that Abdul was compromised because ATG owes him US$40,000+. I pointed out that he was supposed to look after the investors’ interests but how could he when ATG owed him so much money? He asked me what it had to do with me and why did I care? I said I cared about people doing what was right and ATG were not doing what was right by him. It was then that things started to unravel.

Abdul explained that he did not mind being owed so much money because he could afford to take “a hit”. For example, he said, “If four payments are owed, two to me and two to Ray, I’m happy for him to be paid.” At which point Chris said, “Well that obviously means there is a cash flow problem.” Abdul then said that was not the case, at which point we started going round in circles as Chris, myself (and I think Terry) started to question his logic;

“If there isn’t a cash flow problem, why aren’t they paying you?”
“Well, because they can’t right now.”
“So there is a cash flow problem?”
“No, there isn’t.”
“So why aren’t they paying you? If they have the cash, what is stopping them?”
“Well they have had a problem making payments.”
“For four months! They’re paying us. How come they can’t pay you?”
“Because they can’t.”
“Then there is a cash flow problem?”

Or words to the above affect. At which point a studio representative, who had been quietly listening said, “I don’t understand, Where is all the money we just gave you?”

We could all see that Abdul knew he was in trouble. He tried to make excuses, then the studio rep dropped the final blow.

“This makes me think ATG must be spending Medinah’s money on it’s other shows.”

Terry and I both saw a look of utter horror flicker across Abdul’s face. He quickly made excuses. But at that point everyone around the table knew – the studio rep had just said he knew what ATG was up to. It was out there. And Abdul was cornered.

But it was at that point we backed off.

We all know Abdul is cornered. ATG owes him $40,000-plus and they are using it to control him. He is their puppet, and they can make him dance as much as they like.

While we have no actual proof that ATG is embezzling money and everything I say in this blog is alleged only, Abdul signs contracts and agreements and payments. If ATG is up to no good, and we all firmly believe that is the case, he is directly in the firing line. It’s no accident ATG sent Abdul and Majid to Doha alone. Majid has no authority and Abdul is expendable. Chris and I have discussed the fact that if ATG do get caught, we believe Talal and Fadi would go to jail. The same could be true of Abdul.

For anyone who would like to deny the above conversation ever took place, well, I recorded it.

Battle Of The Construction Manager & Bob’s Unpaid Wages


While I got on with a provisional schedule in the absence of a Construction Manager, various things happened today. First, Ibrahim failed to pay Bob  his wages despite the fact Ibrahim had promised Bob they would be paid before the 10th May. This is the second time Bob’s wages have been late. This morning Bob decided not to work because of it. I told Bob to go right ahead.

Meantime, Issam promised to deal with it and he spoke to Ibrahim who promised that Bob would be paid by Friday at the latest. But since Ibrahim has broken promise after promise about wages being paid on time, why would we believe him?

By the afternoon Bob was doing work for Ray Perry anyway. He’s a good egg, is Bob.

Currently Talal (ATG’s owner) and Ahmed (Medinah’s original creator) were in town. Ahmed is usually in Qatar where he lives. I’ve been told he does not like being away from home. The fact he really needs to be here is a problem.

Talal, on the other hand, seems to rarely be in Jordan. Instead he likes to spend his time travelling from place to place. London. Paris. I’m not sure where else but this is the first time he has been here that I know of since I arrived back on March 17th.

The first description I heard of Talal was, “angry child”. Though I have not sat in one of his meetings with his staff yet, everything I have been told indicates it is painful for his employees.

The reason Talal is here is allegedly two-fold; First, because Ahmed is here (I have been told Talal needs to, “keep a reign on the show’s creator and money-channel” – no comment on what this means – I’m just quoting what I’ve been told). Second, because another show has been thrown into chaos.

I have been told ATG is producing three shows. The first is of course “Medinah”. The second is a show called “Malik”. The third, well I don’t even know what that is. But “Malik” was plunged into total chaos last Thursday when the designer, photographer and director all quit. Just to give you a sense of how bad that was, consider this;

ATG has a clause in its freelancer contract that states that if a freelancer quits they must refund all of their wages!!!

I’m going to say that again because you won’t believe it. If a freelancer quits, ATG’s contract demands that they refund all their wages.

“Malik’s” director was so fed up with ATG he agreed to go to the bank and refund 1/3 of his wages there and then.

So ATG staff marched him to the bank and took back his money.

Meantime, “Medinah” is also in chaos. Talal is refusing to meet the show’s designer. Why, I’m not sure.

ATG hired international crew for “Medinah” not out of choice, but because it’s part of ATG’s contract with the financiers: ATG must use international HoDs in order to make sure “Medinah” is of a greater standard than their usual shows because ATG has no experience of making a show of this scale. It’s become clear that ATG is not happy about this.

(There’s also another rule that anyone working on “Medinah” must not be working on anything else. But I have heard that the production manager, production coordinator, make-up artists and location manager are all involved in “Malik” and – possibly – the other unnamed show. It has also been often alleged that “Medinah’s” budget is funding the other two shows to some degree. Last time I checked this was called “embezzlement” – but so far it’s just a rumour).

Anyway, Talal is refusing to meet Chris because Chris wants a UK Construction Manager and other UK crew. Now the show will be better for it. But Talal insists that local crews are just as good. However, ATG has shown me local crew work that they commissioned and frankly it’s atrocious – so while there may be good work somewhere in Jordan, ATG doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

ATG acts like this does not matter, but it does. It matters because just as an audience member can often tell good acting from bad without knowing why, they can also tell when something looks real or like a set. And that destroys the ‘reality’ of fictional drama.

So back to tonight. Chris – the designer – has been trying to meet Talal since yesterday but Talal has been ducking and diving. He’s finally, supposedly, meeting Chris today. But only because Ahmed is here so avoiding Chris is nigh on impossible.

Earlier today, Chris told Issam that if Talal isn’t allowing him a UK Construction Manager he might as well quit. And if he quits, Simon Hunter – the director – has said he will quit too.

It has come to the point that we may all be quitting tomorrow. So anther ATG show will have gone down the toilet in under 7 days due to their useless bloody-mindedness. You got to hand it to them; at least they’re consistent.