Behind most famous Lebanese singers we know since the 70s was one man, an incredible talent spotter who rarely failed in his choices of those he launched to the stars. That stars' maker who brought us amazing singers we fell in love with was also a top producer and director, probably the top of his time.
Majida El Roumi, Mona Marashly, Walid Tawfiq, Nawal Al Zoghbi, Wael Kfoury, Assi El Hellani, Ragheb Alame, Abdel Ghani Tleis, Moein Shreif, Elissa, Maya Diab, Myriam Fares, Najwa Karam, Nishan, Giselle Khoury, Ziad Burji, Maya Nasri, Fares Karam, Nidal Al Ahmadiye, Zein Al Omer, Nicolas Saadeh Nakhle, Jean-Marie Riachi, Ghassan Saliba, Ramy Ayyash, Diana Haddad, Bassima, Haifa Wehbe, Marwan Khoury, Bassem Feghali, Rudy Rahme...
Who doesn't know these Lebanese artists who have shone, each their way, in their own field? Trust me, there is more to this list than the time we have to mention them all.
Only one man was responsible for launching these stars' careers through the earliest talent show we used to impatiently wait for, every four years... Studio el Fann but also LBC Tonight. He is the one and only: Simon Asmar, who sadly left us yesterday at 76 years of age after a long battle with illness.
Asmar began his career at the state-run Tele Liban in 1985. He then moved to LBC, Lebanon’s first private-sector TV channel, during its formation stage. He played an essential role in that, not only in the planning and creation of the entertainment programs but also in the casting of the first news anchors and programs' hosts. It was said that he had a knack for spotting the faces that the camera could love, and he would do so in barely a minute and always with a smile.
Asmar would come to leave LBC in the early 2000s to join Murr TV (MTV) after it re-launched in 2009.
Other than the famous talent show Studio El-Fann, Asmar produced several popular TV game shows throughout his career, including Bab al-Haz (Gate of Luck), Laylet Haz (A Lucky Night) and Ahla bi Hal Talli.
Al-Asmar received more than 20 awards in Lebanon and around the world, including the "Best Television Creator" in 1994.
Simon Asmar was more than a producer, a director, and a star-maker. He was recognized to always know " what the people want." He gave us countless hours of fun and entertainment, generously, but gradually, always leaving us wanting more.
I bet that every family has endless memories of the young and the elderly alike, gathering around the TV set after dinner, watching in awe his creative shows and the beautiful way in which he unleashed every talent; leaving us mesmerized. No matter our age, our situation, or that of the country, Simon Asmar taught us to appreciate and admire real artistic performance.