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Bosnian relief from an unlikely source

Kassandra November 11, 1997
Web posted at: 5:57 a.m. EST (1057 GMT)

From Correspondent Pat Neal

MIAMI (CNN) -- Diplomacy met showbiz recently in an unlikely bid to return a television favorite to the small screen in war-torn Bosnia.

Viewers all over the war-torn country were tuning into a Venezuelan-made soap opera for their doses of passion, drama, intrigue and power struggles in what could be called a passionate escape from reality.

CNN's Pat Neal reports
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With all of its on-screen turmoil, the soap opera "Kassandra," was one of the few constants within the instability of Bosnia. But like much else in the country, the show's run too proved unstable.

The show was yanked off the air in August during a power play over who controlled the airwaves in the area around Banja Luka. It soon found an unlikely savior.


Concerned that the show's absence could spark unrest, the U.S. State Department wanted it back on the air.


"We are working to try to develop as effective as possible objective media in Bosnia, and sometimes one needs to help them fill up the air with what must be perceived a perfectly good soap opera," State Department Spokesman Jamie Rubin explains.

So Antonio Paez of Coral Pictures offered to help bring the soap opera back.

"They informed me that "Kassandra" had become the number one show in prime time in Bosnia and it was suddenly cut off -- could we help?" he recalls. "We, of course, said we would help in any way we could."

The Miami-based distributor of the soap opera pleaded to allow "Kassandra" back on the air. Paez, however, was perplexed, since no station in Bosnia had purchased "Kassandra."

control room

It had been pirated from another country and the Bosnian TV station lacked the money to buy it. When the Miami distributor found out about the station's financial woes, it decided to donate all 150 episodes of the show.

"Kassandra" has returned to Bosnia's airwaves, providing viewers with a much-demanded visual escape.

So what is behind the show's popularity? Some of the soap's stars attribute the it to the world's most universal emotion.

"We are completely different cultures and miles apart, but I think we all a common denominator, which is love," says "Kassandra" star Coraima Torres.

"Kassandra" star Henry Soto agrees.

"I've always said there isn't a stronger feeling that love," he said. "When something can calm fury, it is important."

Even if just for an hour a day.


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