PROF'S EXPERTISE DRAWS BBC

May 07, 2001 12:00 am
BRITISH CONNECTION: Eastern Oregon University history professor A. Shapur Shahbazi, center, was interviewed Satruday at his La Grande home by Atlantic Productions of London for a program about ancient Greece and Persia. The production crew members shown are director John Fothergill, left, and sound recorder Joe Keppler. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
BRITISH CONNECTION: Eastern Oregon University history professor A. Shapur Shahbazi, center, was interviewed Satruday at his La Grande home by Atlantic Productions of London for a program about ancient Greece and Persia. The production crew members shown are director John Fothergill, left, and sound recorder Joe Keppler. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

A four-man British television production crew, under contract to the British Broadcasting Corporation, visited La Grande Saturday.

Ancient Greece and Persia were on the minds of the members of the Atlantic Productions team, not the spring beauty of the Grande Ronde Valley. The group came to interview Eastern Oregon University history professor A. Shapur Shahbazi.

Atlantic Productions, based in London, is preparing a program about the relationship between the ancient Greeks and the Persians, and the wars between the two from 490 to 480 B.C. The program will be produced for the BBC and The Discovery Channel.

Shahbazi was interviewed for the Persian perspective on the subject. Few people can offer the insight that Shahbazi provides, said Marc Cronin, assistant producer for Atlantic Productions.

He is one of only three people in the world who know the history of ancient Greece and Persia inside and out, speaks Persian and English and is from Iran, Cronin said.

Saturdays taping was done at Shahbazis home in southeast La Grande. The crew had a limited amount of time to interview Shahbazi because of a tight travel schedule, still it went well, said John Fothergill, director of Atlantic Productions, who conducted the interview.

He provided an insightful, refreshing perspective, Fothergill said. We are so used to seeing history just in the eyes of the west.

Shahbazi has taught at EOU since 1985.

He is one of several people interviewed for the program. They all were asked the same questions. Fothergill said he was delighted to have the chance to interview Shahbazi.

He is the man if you want a Persian perspective on the story. We came a long way to get it, Fothergill said.

Shahbazi told Fothergill that contrary to what many people in the West believe, the ancient Greeks and the Persians were not bitter enemies.

Greece and Persia were as friendly as the British and Germans are today.

There was not the animosity that the textbooks make us believe there was, Shahbazi said. The Persian Empire was based on tolerance.

Shahbazi noted that the Persians and the Greeks had many ties. For example, following the battles between 490 and 480 B.C., a number of Greeks served the Persian military.

Atlantic Productions documentary special will probably be shown on BBC and the Discovery Channel in December or January. Those who will be able to see the program in Union County include subscribers of Charter Communications cable which carries the Discovery Channel.