Friday, July 14, 2006

Lebanon Update Final

Hey everyone

Well some of you have heard about what is happening in
Lebanon right now and I just wanted to say to you all
that I am back in the states.  Sorry I never wrote the
last Lebanon update, I got home about three weeks ago
and went right away to work.  It was a crazy
experience over there in Lebanon but I made it out and
am alive happy and better for having been though all
of it .  Thank you all of you for keeping up with me
and showing your support while I was away.  It felt
relay good to hear from you and to be able to share
with you the intense experiences I was going through.

It has been a whirl wind ever since I got back to New
York.  So far I worked a festival (Bonnarroo) in
Tennessee, that was crazy.  I only had one day rest
between flying home from Beirut and then going to the
4 day festival.  The following weekend I worked on a
job in San Francisco and then La with a Kiss tribute
band made up of little people.  That was kind of weird
the name of the band was Minni Kiss and none of the
members were over 3 feet high.  Then if that were not
enough the following week I had to lead an ensemble to
work for the Blumeburg foundation summer party.   

So much has happened I haven't had hardly enough time
to think.  Like jumping out of the frying pan and into
the fire.  But now I am at a pause and able to

The big thing is I am back and safe.  It sucks what is
going on over there in Lebanon right now and it seems
like the news only gives you one little bit of the
story.  Now that I have gotten so close to my extended
family there in Lebanon I feel kind of like that's my
country getting attacked.   I would go into it but I
really don't feel like talking politics right now so
just if everyone would wish that the attacks would
stop maybe that will help.  If you don't know what's
going on, then watch the news or google Lebanon bombs
and you will find out.

So that's about it for now,  I will keep you posted in
the future on other adventures that I may be climbing
on board.  Especially those adventures that take me
out of the country for an extended period of time. 

By the way I got to give birth to  a couple of really
cool production numbers that I am really proud of.  A
giant fabric number and a bubble production number.
They were my dream projects and because this TV
program had a pretty generous budget we were able to
pull them off.  The only ketch was we had to do
everything in 4 days time.  That means all costumes
props choreography and technical directions had to be
figured out.  Not to mention we had other production
numbers that we were working on simultaneously.


Michael Saab 

Monday, May 29, 2006

Beirut-Mission Fashion-Week Seven

Hello Everyone,

Sorry I haven't written in a while I have been back here in Lebanon for about two weeks now. Phoenix was great; Ramsey my little bro is all grown up and married now. The shows are going great although I can tell that our team from NY is getting tired and slightly less inspired to be creative and run the race week after week to come up with original concepts that out do the last. This week we are doing superhero japanimation and Cruise ship themes. The japanimation superhero is right up my alley and the cruise ship theme is a little harder to connect to but I can pull ideas from my time spent working with Royal Caribbean. I am sure they will work out fine they always do somehow.

So to briefly recap what happened after the last time I wrote. well, I went to the wedding. That was quite a cultural shock leaving this country and then suddenly being transported to the desert in Arizona to be with my entire family. The wedding was a production and a show in it's self so really I missed a show here but I got to rehearse and repair for a show there. I never really skipped a beat. It was great to see all of my family outside of our normal environment of Alabama. A few people didn't make it, which will remain anonymous, (JENNIFER) but we still love them any way. My little nieces and nephews were great. Little Sophie, my oldest brothers 5 year old has grown form being scared of me when she was an infant to now not giving me a moment of peace. Always "Uncle Mickey, Uncle Mickey,....Magic! Magic! Magic!" I love her to death. The poor girl has so much energy, if you could figure out how to harness that stuff you could run all of the city lights in Birmingham off her. She is the best. I don't think I have to worry anymore about there kids not remembering me because I am the uncle who lives so far away.

So, just when I was starting to get over my Jet lag and adjusting to the USA time, I am off to travel back to Beirut. I got here and was whisked away to my apartment slept and started my 15 hour work day immediately the next morning.

Coming back to Beirut was like stepping right into the lions mouth. I returned on Wednesday night and the dress rehearsal was Thursday morning. No sooner did the choreographer tell me the concept of the show then was I on stage and trying to fake to the directors that I had been rehearsing this all week. Some how we pulled it off.

On top of all of this I had to build in one evening a costume concept that normally in NY I would have taken over a week to accomplish. I turned my bouncing stilt legs into animal legs. They provided me with fake fur and foam, the raw materials which I specified earlier before I left for Phoenix. I made drawings, made patterns cut the fur to fit the stilts and carved and glued the foam to make padding to beef out my legs making it proportional to my body. Well I don't expect you to understand how I made this but the important thing is that it came out really nice. Nicer than I could have wished for. I cant believe that I pulled it off and it looked as nice as it did and I only took one evening to make them. I had been putting off this costume for over a year now because I thought it was over my head. Well nothing like a little pressure to show you what you are capable of. Flambeaux made me incredible horns and the costume was complete. I looked like a half man half goat creature right out of Narnia.

The second theme was a period piece that we called the Marry Antoinette number. We were all in white wigs and pastel suits with ruffle collars and sleeves. Individually we looked so ridiculous but when you got us all together and you saw us all dancing to contemporary hip hop music by Beyonce the number was ridiculously incredible. Probably our best so far.

Ok so on to the weekend. This time I took Flambeaux and Amy with me to Zahalie to meet my family. We drove this time all on our own and got really lost. In fact for a trip which usually takes only one hour by car we took a total of five hours to get there. Just about every couple of miles along the way we stopped and asked someone on the side of the road for directions. Most of them didn't speak English so we would just find a city on the map that was on the way to Zahalie and say the name with a question mark look -expression on our faces. Never the less we finally made it to Zahalie around 10 o'clock. Actually when we arrived I pulled the car over and was about to ask for directions when I saw Nicholi, (my cousin) I immediately thought to my self and I even asked him, "how did you find us? He says "you are here" All along I thought we were lost and we were parked right in front of the house.

The weekend with flam, Amy and I in Zahalie was incredible. We went to ancient Roman ruins, where Nicholi and I were able to pay the Lebanese entrance fee to get in and Flam and Amy paid the tourist rate. That was interesting and the family kept talking about how I passed because I am Lebanese. You could see how they were proud of that. Then we went back to the house and off to the Cherry orchards where we helped the family by picking cherries. You should see these things they are so huge and despite my efforts of refusing them they still sent me home at the end of it all with more cherries than I could ever possibly eat. Everyone we know now has all they could want delicious giant cherries.

Of course we had several feasts. Flam and Amy got a chance to try raw kibbie and we had a new one, pigeon stew. After dinner we were able to pull out our contribution to the meal, Ice cream and Lebanese pastries for everyone. The weekend was a huge success and we all came home definitely reenergized. The family was so happy to have me back and we really connected this time. Every time I see them I feel more and more like we have known each other for such a long time. It will be sad when I have to leave.

So that leads us up to last Monday. This past week we pulled out one of my major concepts, and we did another period piece this theme the 1940's. My concept was to do a major production using tons of fabric. I made waves made of fabric, giant flags of fabric and the smaller weighted flags of fabric. The whole stage was alive with tons of fabric flying in all directions like a tidal wave crashing on the audience over and over. I was really pleased with how my props worked out, and now I definitely have some major footage to use on my promo reel.

The 1940 number was a big feature for my self. We set the stage to look like a 1940 concert hall with tables and people all sitting around cocktailing and socializing. Then 6 show girls walked with me arm and arm to a microphone in the center of the stage where I proceeded to lip sync into an old fashioned microphone to a song from the era. "The Lambert walk" that was the name of the tune. Flambeaux was on the piano and pretending to play the song. There was a show girl on the top of the piano and others fanning me at the high points of the tune. Hard to describe but you get the idea. It was really fun and especially so because this week I was able to invite some of the family to come to see the show as guests in the audience.

They looked great, all dressed up in suits and ties and the ladies looked fabulous. I took pictures with them and I will share the pics with you as soon as I get a chance. It was great to have them and being that they were at the show, all of the rest of the family in Zahalie were watching the show back home trying to pick them out of the audience and seeing me in my big moment on TV.

After the show they were of course asking me if I would go back to Zahalie with them. To see them melts my hart and makes me feel so lucky to have them here in this country. Of course I was going to go back this weekend, and most likely every weekend until I leave for the states.

I managed to kid nap Ronnie to stay with me in Beirut for the night, so we could go out on the town. Then the next morning we got in the car and headed off to Zahalie.
The weekend was full of food, picking cherries and on Sunday I was able to get up earlier and walk with the family down to the Church. Little by little I am becoming more and more a part of this community. Again what a great feeling.

Church was a really interesting experience. Of course the whole ceremony was held in Arabic and I couldn't understand a thing. But then I thought to myself wouldn't it be great if somehow I could understand the words through some sort of divine intervention. What they were saying became to me really more of a song and I could just here the sound instead of understanding. Everyone was real busy praying and so focused, the energy was definitely intense. I was raised Catholic and this was a Catholic church so a lot of it was very familiar but of course still very different. After taking communion, I was praying and I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I looked around and everyone had there hands together. I think I had a muscle twitch in my shoulder but it felt like a tap to me. Needless to say the church experience was cool.

I returned later that evening and the family now just expects that I will see them next week. They even pulled out a calendar and we looked at it to see how many more days I have and what days I will be able to come to Zahalie.

So that brings us to today. Only two more broadcasts and then back to the US. This week superheroes and cruise ships. And next week the finale.

Got to run. Talk to you soon


Monday, May 08, 2006

Beirut-Mission Fashion-Week Four

I will try to make this brief because I have been in this Internet cafe on this slow computer for too long.
Things are well, the shows are well, I rented a car, and I have a Lebanon cell phone now. If you need to get in touch with me here is the number. When calling form the us dial (001-096-1-03-746988)
I love this country and now that I have a car and a cell phone it has really opened up to me!! There is so much to see and I am so excited to explore all of it!
I have a few photos to share with you this week.
So to quickly recap the production numbers we did this week, one was a wedding theme and the second was Japanese.
In the wedding, the designers showed their wedding gowns and I created two pink and white birds that were flown on stage as they walked down the runway. It was really beautiful. The scene showed white candles, flowering vines, canopies made of pink and white tulle. Dancers leading the models to the runway and 6 little girls throwing flowers as they walked. And of course my sunburned pigeons. No just kidding they were beautiful and added a lot. I think outside the models they were the most featured part of the number. It really was pretty. Nice to know that even though this is not my first choice of theme to work in, I can make an impression.
As for the Japanese theme I created two golden 22 foot flags. Flambeaux and I waved our freak flags on either side of the stage as Amy Goodheart sat in a lyra high above the stage with a red dress on that reached the floor. I really would like to go into this number but I really don't have time so just imagine how Flambeaux and I felt when one of us said "ok time to go get on our makeup so we can go and wave our flags" It was brilliant but funny to realize what we are doing here to make a living.
This weeks shows were great but were definitely a nice break from the fire madness that we produced last week.
Now I am getting ready to leave for a quick trip back to the US to see my bro Ramsey get hitched. He has got to be so excited by now, He has a great fiance and is really lucky. It is going to be great to be reunited with him and all of my family in the next couple of days.
I will be flying to the US tomorrow and will stay for 7 days and then return to Beirut on the 16th to finish this contract. I should win the prize for having to travel the farthest to this event, and I cant help but think how it couldn't possibly get any more different from Bruit to Arizona.
I will have a 5 hour layover in both Houston, TX and Paris France on the way back on the 16th so if any one has any ideas of with who or how I can spend my time please let me know. My US phone number will be working sometime tomorrow night and will be on for the next 7 days the number is 917-710-5080.
Well that is all for now I gotta run. Talk to you soon
Michael Saab

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beirut-Mission Fashion-Week Three

OK their is a lot to tell you. I will try and be quick because now I am in Zahle. the city in Lebanon where pretty much all of my ancestors here in Lebanon live.
So Yesterday we accomplished something that I thought I would never have believed I would do. We lit the runway on fire. We had the technicians build for us special metal trays that we arranged along each side of the runway that we then let on fire. It was very dangerous. Flambeau was set in the middle of the set in a white leisure suit and these giant burning wings hung by a rope. He started the number by lighting the ends of this fire train that sent the runway to light on fire like a trail of fire chasing down both sides burning in a fiery inferno flames about 3 feet high. Then he was lifted like a fiery angel up above the stage. We had 8 male models on either side of the stage topless and dressed in red holding torches. Two girls hanging in hoops wearing fire showgirl outfits and then I came down the stairs like a fire monster, painted in metallic gold, I went out to the middle of this flaming runway and performed my double staff routine. It was unreal I definitely think we got the attention of this country. If they didn't know us before they definitely do now.
This morning My cousin who I only just met picked me up and we drove off to Zahle. I am meeting all of my Lebanese cousins right now for the first time. (i have a list and i have been just checking them off I think i am to about 22 now) They all live in the same neighborhood. Somehow all of the children of my grandfather's sister and their children live in these houses almost connected to each other. I think when the family gets bigger they just add on a floor and the building gets taller. The structure is a concrete cement block building flat roof so it is easy to do. I am seeing the house where my grandfather lived and everyone is so nice. The problem is there is so little English spoken. I will be here for the next couple of days then i go back to Beirut.
I just feel like I have to write something because the last few days have been so intense. I am in the middle of the thick of it right now so I will go back to live it and get back to you as soon as i have real time to reflect.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Beirut-Mission Fashion-Week Two

Hello everyone.
Well week two down and just 8 to go. Things have been bumpy to start just as i had expected. But i think we are roiling along in the right direction now. We are starting to understand what the producers want and are accustomed to and realizing our role in all of this madness.
I am learning a lot and working all of the time... The one thing that is for certain is that we all want the program to look as good as it can. And with so much talent around us including of course our New York in da house, the end result is astonishing.
I think next week we are getting a few more female dancers added to the group in from Paris. That will make a great difference, take pressure off and help fill up the stage. At the moment, being a group of only 6 we are all playing several roles. I have officially been inducted in to the role of dancer. I thought I was a circus guy but that shows you what I know. This week was all about 5, 6, 7, 8 turn, 2, 3, 4 ... I look down and say move forward left foot and my right foot moves back, but I'm getting it. And what better way to get it than to have the pressure of either get it or have millions of people see you fumble by Friday.
The TV station is very supportive. They get us what ever we need, more or less. If we have an idea like we need three giant fans and 20 yards of poly silk, and we need to hang three hoops or make it snow little white confetti's they make it happen. Imagination is really let loose here. Delivering it is the challenge. Every week we are to come up with three to 7 production numbers. We are given about 6 days to do this. They are more than willing to run around and buy and rig what ever we need, only thing is the clock is ticking. In NY I would want to spend maybe two weeks or more on just one production number and here we have only 6 days to give 3 to 7. So the reality is we are in heaven and in hell. Basically we are Slaves to This broadcasting company. Though life could be a lot worse.
So life in Beirut is interesting, the little that we do see. For the most part we only see the streets around the apartment building and the inside of the TV station compound.
But... last night we went out. We went to this crazy restaurant where the served amazing food had a great atmosphere and people were singing and dancing as they ate. It was not like some sort of traditional ethnic Lebanese thing this was more or less some upper class up scale dining party thing. Everyone was in suits and ties and smoking cigars. People looked great, the music was loud, and people were dancing all over the place. Really it was like fine dining at a disco. You would have to be there.
Our host and agent for bringing us here (Miya) is a local celebrity in Lebanon, and she knows everyone. She loves to party and where ever we go she shows us off like here American international stars. The velvet rope comes down every where we go and somehow everyone knows what we are doing here. I keep shaking the hands and hanging out with the owners of the places we hang out at. Funny things happen like if we are out and we like the music there. They arrange it so that next time we come they have the CD for us to take home with us. I swear the Lebanese people are so hospitable that they would take the food out of there on mouths and give it to you if they thought they could. And sometimes they try.
But as i said we spend entirely most of our time at the studio. I can see that life here is going to change a lot over the next few weeks. It already has had such ups and downs, now that we are over our jet lag and kind of know the way the studio works and have experienced a little of Beirut I am really looking forward to putting in some good work this week and blowing the doors off by Friday.
More later

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Beirut-Mission Fashion-Week One

June 17th

Ok so I am here, Things are well. It has certainly
been an adjustment. But we are all well, the work is
looking good and only going to get better and better.
We are adjusting to our new living environment and
lifestyles, and learning our way around.

Today is the first day we found the Internet place.
Really, until today we have been on the move
rehearsing like mad men, and scrambling to be ready
for the first live broadcast. It has been like a fire
drill that has lasted a week. We are all tired and
tomorrow we jump back into it. It is kind of a sink
or swim scenario but we're resilient and in can only
get easier. I think when I get back from this
experience I will be super powerful.

The show is kind of like fashion American idol. They
have selected the top models form the middle east. 16
models selected from a group of something like 800.
Then they selected a group of Designers to work with
these models. They all live in this loft isolated from
the world where they have to learn parts of the
industry and design exhibit and compete. Every week
one designer and his or her model is eliminated.

The network I am working for has two channels.
Mission Fashion must be there premiere show because on
one channel you can watch 24 hours a day live video
feed from the contestants loft as they prepare and are
taught and judged. On the other channel The channel
has a regular broadcast of programs and once a week
they air there main program that compiles the
happenings of the week. They do this in a very
spectacular live approach complete with music dazzling
lights Choreographed dancers and circus stunts. Then
they are judged and one model designer team is

So there is the format. But what i didn't tell you is
that our very own show girl Amy Goodheart is one of
the panel judges. You should have seen the model and
designer reactions when they figured out this little
tidbit of information. Suddenly smirks and snub noses
went to bright eyes and big smiles waves and a little
touchy flirty stuff. For example I have the former
snobby Miss Egypt sucking up to me now. A really
funny situation. I have to learn to distinguish the
difference between fake smiles to genuine ones. At
the moment I just assume they are all fake and

Well I would love to talk more but I can't. The
others are waiting for me to go to dinner so here are
a few quick excerpts form my journal. Just know that
we are safe, well and the work is going good and
getting better and better all of the time.

June 13th
Well here i am in Lebanon. I have always wondered
what it would be like to spend time in the country of
my ancestors and now I get to find out. There are so
many things going through my mind that I don't even
really know where to begin. I guess I should start
from the beginning.

So we left the US on Monday at 7pm, Just so you know
Lebanon is 12 hours ahead of NY so in Lebanon It was
already 2am the next day. I am traveling with 5
other freaks from NY. Really we are a NYC dream team.
Some of the best at what we do all brought together
to work on this reality show in Beirut.

We have:
Amy Goodheart (show girl, Director / Choreographer)
Maine (Dancer)
Adrian (Dancer)
Flambeaux (Fire performer)
Una (Aerialist)
and me

We are all great performers seasoned and professional.
I think that our nerves are a little tied up in knots
right now but that is to be expected before the first
show. Give it three weeks and we will be on auto

The people of Lebanon have been so nice to us so far.
Even when we were waiting in the immigration area
right off the plane one of the officers was telling us
about how glad he was to have us in his country. When
I told him that I am half Lebanese he was particularly
interested. He told me that Saab (my last name) was a
very old, big, and famous family here in Lebanon.
(In fact there is a famous Lebanese Designer named
Allie Saab who we will be working with this Saturday.
I wonder if there is any relation?) Well when I told
him that My father was my Lebanese side then he
immediately told me " well you are Lebanese then, We
determine your blood from your fathers side" i don't
think that my cousins would be too happy to hear that
and I don't necessarily agree with it but in my case
and fro my time here it is definitely helping.

Every one seems to be really interested with the fact
that I am Lebanese. It is getting me way more
attention that I had expected and they are all very
warm and overly welcoming about it. I hope they will
allow me to leave when it comes time. And hey the way
I feel right now I will probably be the one with the
hard time. I feel like every where I look I am seeing
my cousins, parents, aunts and uncles. I am just
blown away.

The country is beautiful . A giant mountain range
runs through the middle of the country and just about
fills the land. The mountains come pretty much right
up to the water. You can snow ski and sun on the
beach in the same day. Only 15 minutes apart.

I am picking up Arabic slowly but surely . Hopefully
by the end of this I will be able to have basic
conversations. Right now all I can do is charades.
Be polite, and talk about food. Thankfully many of
the people in the studio speak English.

The show is going to be great. It is recording live
in front of a studio audience and airing live with a
10 second delay. I am thoroughly looking forward to
it and all that we can learn form it. Our first shoot
is on Saturday. Our first audience is estimated at
16 million viewers. Kinda crazy.

Hope you are all well -more later and talk to you soon

Michael Dirt info on the show

Saturday, April 08, 2006

first post

hi my name is michael saab and this is my new blog thing. My Friend Marie set this up for me because I am a blog retard so bare with me as i figure out how to make this blog thing cool. So i am a circus variety performer living in NYC. Check out my web site I am going to Beruit Lebanon on monday for two months. I am definitely excited about that. Well I will write more later got to go now.