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Parviz Gharib-Afshar is an Iranian performer, director, producer and television personality and one of the most notable television hosts in Iran and afterward in the United States.
Early life and education
Parviz Gharib-Afshar was born in Iran on June 12, 1943. His father was from Garakaan, Arrak, and his mother was from Tabriz, East Azerbaijan. He is fluent not only in Persian and English but also in Azeri (Azeri Turkish). He went to Naraghi primary school and Jami & Marvi high schools.
After receiving his high school diploma, he decided to go to United States to continue his education. Upon arriving, he went to San Francisco City College and later on to San-Francisco State University. He then earned his Masters from UCLA in Broadcasting.
At the same time he started in various student stage productions including Iranian student’s stage and then TV productions for Nowruz. He then created “The International Variety Show” in local TV station where art and culture of different countries were presented.
These experiences lead him to work in the CBS-TV program “As Others See Us” distributed by United Artists and syndicated throughout the USA and overseas and directed and produced by Moustapha Akkad.
He was one of the ten students elected to be featured in “Who’s Who in American Colleges & Universities Yearbook” from San Francisco State University.
His last job before returning to Iran in 1970 was in the Public Relation Promotional Department at National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
Career in Iran
He was young and unknown when he went back to Iran. There were several other young and unknown graduates hoping to be hired by National Iranian Radio & Television (NIRT) where the preference was to work with these talents by signing short term contracts for individual programs. However, because of his impressive resume, he was officially hired by NIRT to be in charge of several production groups such as Children, Youth, Family, Health and Labor.
At the time, in NIRT, each department worked in silos; history was told by historians and entertainment provided by singers and comedians. He decided to use entertainment as a tool to provide his audience with a knowledge base that is only doable through media. In order to that he started a number of different programs:
Iran, in a large country in which each region has its own language, traditions and culture, only a few people had the means or the interest to travel to another region. By personally going to different parts of Iran and locally filming the traditions and beliefs of that particular region, talking to its people and participating in their ceremonies, he presented different parts of the country to the whole.
And in a time when donating blood was a myth and only the drug addicts would sell their blood –a blood which would cause more harm than good- he used the media to emphasized the importance of such an action so ordinary people started to contribute. After a short while, giving blood became a convention in Iranian society.
He did not stop there. With the success of this humanitarian attempt, he expanded his efforts to similar endeavors. He started the talk about the importance of keeping the environment safe. A concept, that no one before had touched. He encouraged people to realize that this earth is our legacy to our children and the fact that we do not always have to rely on the government to take care of issues that have direct bearing on our lives.
Parviz Gharib-Afshar was not only a pioneer in offering his audience novel ideas and new ways of presenting them, he also had the courage to experiment and succeed in areas that had not yet been explored before. He decided to produce the first live TV program for UNICEF’s 25th anniversary. In order to have child-guests from different countries in his program, he went to the members of seven foreign embassies and invited their children and interviewed the live on TV. He continued with his live programs by producing live concerts for international celebrities such as Frank Sinatra performing in the 12 thousand seat stadium.
In a first ever Telethon in Iran, he produced and personally executed a seven hour “Special” to help Iranian refugees from Iraq. The event, was the first joint venture between Iranian Radio and Television.
He is the creator of over 300 recreational and entertaining programs including specials about Iranian festivals and traditions such as “Nowruz”, “Chaharshanbe Suri”, and “Yalda”. For which by using the talents of the best set-designers and costume-makers, he created the ambiance of the old times by featuring new talented, unknown entertainers along with eminent personalities and the famous. And his guests were not limited to Iranian personalities. Many celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Anthony Quinn, William Holden, David Frost, and many more visiting Iran, were guests in his show.
Iran at the time had two Persian speaking channels, and American Armed Forces stationed in Tehran was broadcasting a program in English. When the latter was shut down, he was placed in charge of creating the “International TV” to introduce other countries and their cultures to Iranians.
He also taught script-writing and creating programs in “School for Cinema and Television” and producing and directing in the “College of Journalism and Communication”.
In 1978 he had a part in Academy Award nominated James Fargo movie, Caravans.
Return to the US
After 1979, revolution in Iran and changes made in Iran’s policies and elimination of NIRT, in order to continue his work, he left Iran for United Estates again and after a short stay in San Francisco, decided to move to Los Angeles where with help and sponsorship of some interested Iranians and by accepting advertisement from Iranian businesses, he started the first Persian program in United States.
By 1981 he made the first Nowruz program in US. Although because of political tensions between Iran and US due to American hostages in Iran, this program was broadcast as “Zoroastrian Spring Festival” the program became extremely successful.
After these accomplishments, in 1982 he started to collaborate with a local TV station, Channel 18: KSCI –today, known as International Channel- that was a part-time program TV station, broadcasting only from morning to midnight.
At the time, across the United States, Iranians had only three hours of programming a week. Out of these three hours, one hour was produced by Parviz Gharib-Afshar, broadcasting his show “Simaye Ashena” every Sunday at noon and later on he expanded it to a daily morning live-show in the same channel from 7:30 to 8:30 PST.
Without governmental or organizational financial assistance or grants, all the programs were financed by independent producers such as himself. Nevertheless he did not allow these limitations stop him. His creativity and innovation again prompted him to talk to Iranian entertainers and artists and together they promoted a very high impact concert.
He then proposed to channel 18 and gained the use of the TV facilities for the production and broadcasting of an Iranian live program from 11:00 PM to12:30 AM every night via satellite cable television through United States.
To celebrate his three thousandth program, he made a special pay-per-view program through satellite cable. This was the first time that Iranians used per-pay-view and the success of it opened the doors to do other such programs to broadcast popular Persian interests such as Iranian soccer games and other Nowruz program all across North America and enabled Parviz Gharib-Afshar to go into a partnership with channel 18 and every year make Specials for Nowruz and other programs such as interviewing well-known and influential Persians from literary, political, artistic and athletic fields.
This collaboration with channel 18 was doing so well that it later on moved to the cable and was broadcast all across United States, as far as Hawaii and was seen by nearby countries such as Costa Rica and Canada. This channel later on became the International Channel.
His next step was to look into what was going on in Iran. In those years, Iranians within Iran did not have any news of the other parts of the country so he started a short wave radio that could be heard by Iranians within Iran. There were other radio stations that would send short wave programs to Iran, expressing their own political views. However, he always felt his first duty as a son of Iran, was to provide information to his fellow-countrymen and not to broadcast his personal beliefs and political views. So he created an open line that everyone could call and inform other Iranians what was happening on their part of the world. This phenomenon still exists today and is used by others with different views and purposes.
At the same time he promoted various concerts and distributed a number of CDs and DVDs to advance Persian art and culture.
In order to help the people of Roodbar and Bam after the earthquake stroke those areas, he helped the fundraising through Iranian media. He is so meticulous that he insisted to be audited for the efforts and to make sure all the profits have indeed reached the people of Roodbar and Bam.
Presently, he has a popular weekly Sunday program.
He has two children, Nader, who was born in Iran and Shiva Rose who was born in the U.S. He is a grandfather of two.
- Parviz Gharib-Afshar Homepage
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