Canada's 'Little Mosque on the Prairie' Pursues U.S. Broadcast Sale

The quirky comedy about Canadian Muslims in a fictional Saskatchewan town airs in over 80 markets, but has hit a 9-11 terror wall as it looks to break into the American market.

TORONTO – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010 praised the gentle Canadian sitcom for fostering cross-cultural unity.

The fish-out-of-water comedy airs internationally in over 80 markets, and has also been set up at 20th Century Fox TV, which has the U.S. format rights.

But in a post-September 11, 2001 era, a U.S. broadcast sale of the original Little Mosque on the Prairie sitcom has so far eluded WestWind Pictures.

So the producer of the original CBC comedy is taking another run at a U.S. sale by enlisting PPI Releasing, an indie TV distributor, to pitch the chuckler about Canadian Muslims in a fictional Saskatchewan town to American broadcasters.

“Laughter is a great way to build bridges,” Mary Darling, executive producer of Little Mosque, said Tuesday.

“And let’s face it, our relationship with Muslims and Islamic culture is still a hot-button issue. Little Mosque is as relevant today as it ever was, especially in the United States,” she added.

There was American interest of a different kind when the Canadian sitcom surfaced among the Wikileaks U.S. cable revelations after U.S. Embassy officials in Ottawa reported back to Washington, D.C. that the Little Mosque sitcom offered negative stereotypes of Americans.

Darling, a dual American and Canadian citizen, appealed to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wrote back to support the series’ attempt to fight prejudice and misunderstandings about Muslims with comedy.

The recent media storm around TLC's All-American Muslim helps explain long-standing resistance south of the border to a Canadian comedy about a big-city lawyer who changes careers to become an Imam to an eccentric congregation in small Prairie town.

Created by Zarqa Nawaz, Little Mosque focuses on a small Muslim community on the Canadian prairies.

The show premiered on CBC in early 2007 to extensive international attention and strong ratings, and has just concluded a sixth and final season.