BEIRUT: Lebanon bade farewell to TV legend Simon Asmar at the St. Georges Cathedral in Beirut Friday, before he was laid to rest in his hometown of Ghazir. The producer and director passed away Wednesday, aged 76, after suffering from kidney disease.
Wreaths surrounded the casket, including some gifted by President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Prominent Lebanese media personalities, politicians, actors and singers - many of which Asmar had helped along in their artistic careers, such as Najwa Karam, Ghassan Saliba and Ragheb Alama - were present at the funeral to offer their condolences.
Karam said Asmar was invaluable to all of Lebanon and that “he presented real talents in a beautiful light to the world.”
MP Paula Yacoubian had met the late producer and director at a very young age and said he helped her pave her way into the media world.
“Some people don’t know that some of the tips I give at my media trainings originally come from Simon Asmar’s instructions” Yacoubian told The Daily Star. “When Simon Asmar is your mentor for a significant amount of time, your outlook of the camera changes.
“No words will be enough to describe how much he gave to Lebanon,” she added. “Asmar was the one who put Lebanon back on the map in the ’90s, after the war ended, and presented Lebanon in a beautiful light.”
Lebanese TV presenter Annabella Hilal said she was lucky to have worked and been on a great journey with Asmar in a number of shows including “Mission Fashion,” “Miss Lebanon” and lastly, “Celebrity Duets,” adding, “He will be greatly missed.”
Speaking to The Daily Star, Alama said Asmar’s era was one-of-a-kind, and that while many other great producers would come, no one would replace him.
Asmar was the creator of the show “Studio al-Fan,” which launched the careers of countless Lebanese pop stars, including that of Majida al-Roumi, Nawal Zoghbi, Wael Kfoury and Assi al-Hellani to name a few.
Former Information Minister Melhem Riachi said: “[Asmar’s] show ‘Studio al-Fan’ was a program that not only advanced the world of art and TV in Lebanon, but that of the whole Arab world.”
Asmar began his career at the state-run Tele Liban before moving to LBCI, Lebanon’s first private-sector channel, in 1985. He left LBCI in the early 2000s and joined Murr TV (MTV) after it relaunched in 2009.
He was still working at MTV when he passed away, with his last appearance being in the MTV program “Celebrity Duets” in spring.