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Venezuela rails against US spy drama

Lead actor Sean Bean in a promotional image for TNT’s Legends spy drama.
By Hannah Dreier
AP (*)
TNT series fingers President Nicolás Maduro as the buyer of chemical weapons

CARACAS — Critics have mostly ignored the new TNT spy drama Legends, but it’s creating a furore in Venezuela. Officials in the South American country are denouncing the show for portraying the socialist government stockpiling nerve gas to quash dissent.

The telecommunications commission opened an investigation yesterday into the series over an episode in which a character fingers President Nicolás Maduro and his socialist party, which goes by the initials PSUV, as the buyer of chemical weapons. On Monday, Minister of Information Delcy Rodríguez denounced the script as hostile and “imperialist.”

Producer Fox 21 apologized and said the show was just fiction. “The producers did not intend to imply that the show was reporting any actual events when it mentioned President Maduro’s name. We sincerely apologize to President Maduro,” the company said in a statement.

In the episode in question, titled Lords of War, the star of the show tortures a terrorist 24-style, demanding to know who is buying his chemical weapons. Eventually the terrorist splutters, “Maduro! PSUV! They’re worried about the civil unrest in Venezuela.”

Venezuela was wracked by anti-government street protests this spring, and international observers accused the government of violating human rights in cracking down on the unrest, though never of using chemical weapons.

On Twitter, Rodríguez denounced the “lies and manipulations” presented in the brief scene, which she said was part of a “Hollywood-type script typical in its imperialist actions against legitimate governments.”

Legends debuted in August to tepid reviews, scoring a mediocre 58 percent rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. It stars Sean Bean, famously killed off in the first season of Game of Thrones, as an undercover FBI operative.

It’s unclear what the government investigation will consist of. Yesterday, government critics were posting the 20-second clip with the heading, “the scene Maduro doesn’t want you to see.”

It’s not the first time Venezuela has tussled with the US entertainment industry. In 2006, the government led by the late President Hugo Chávez accused a US gaming company of doing Washington’s bidding by releasing a shoot ‘em up computer game based on the overthrow of an imaginary Venezuelan “tyrant.”

Last year, the US spy drama Homeland portrayed Venezuela as a lawless hellscape. An outlaw character was depicted hiding out in a Caracas skyscraper-turned-slum with thugs who killed people and molested children with impunity. No official repercussions followed.

@hannahdreier
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