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Aghdashloo quits "24"
April Fools: Iranian-American star leaves hit Fox TV show amid controvery


Ken Hakarimoran
Khollywood Reporter
April 1, 2005

In a stunning announcement Thursday at the Gala Night ceremonies, oscar-nominated actor Shohreh Aghdashloo announced she is quitting "24", the FOX counter-terrorism show.

Aghdashloo, who was nominated last year for the supporting actress role in "The House of Sand and Fog," cited personal reasons for her decision. She said after long hours of contemplation and soul-searching, she could not continue with the show in good conscience.

Sources close to Aghdashloo paint a different picture for her sudden decision. The show, which portrays a terrorist "sleeper cell" in America with Aghdashloo as the chief matriarch, has been criticized by Islamic groups as casting a shadow of suspicion over ordinary American Muslims.

Aghdashloo, herself a Muslim emigrant who came to the U.S. following the Revolution in Iran, has been severely criticized by the large and prosperous Iranian-American community for taking on the role of a terrorist. A self-proclaimed activist for democracy and human rights, her role is seen as advancing the stereotype of Middle Easterners as terrorists and Islamic extremists.

To add fervor to the fire, her recent comments on a Los Angeles-based TV show regarding Googoosh, the popular Iranian singer and actor, stirred a flurry of resentment from long time Googoosh fans. 

Googoosh, Iran's most popular pre-revolutionary pop star, returned to the stage in 2000 after a long absence to cheering crowds in a series of unprecedented sold-out concerts across the U.S. and Canada, prompting the BBC to dub her the "Persian Diva." 

Aghdashloo denied having been swayed by popular opinion against her decision to play the role of a terrorist. She said she will return to the stage and continue her activist role until more suitable roles come her way.

Rumors abound among insiders that Hollywood producers are already vying Googoosh for leading roles in such movies as "Mary, Mother of God," "Anahita, Mother of Mithra," and "God, Part II." Googoosh could not be reached for comment, but the pastor said he will keep trying.

Producers of "24" on Friday said they will slowly write out Aghdashloo's character. An inside source close to the writers said she will likely exit "with a bang." He did not elaborate.

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