The family drama addresses racial intolerance with a hate-crime plotline
Jessica Biel
Credit: Jessica Biel: Dorothy Low

You knew it had to happen: In late January, the WB’s family-values drama ”7th Heaven” will weigh in on the Sept. 11 attacks by airing an episode about religious intolerance. Inspired by an actual case in Arizona in which a Sikh was killed after being mistaken for a Muslim, ”7th Heaven” will tell the story of a Muslim girl who’s victimized by her schoolmates.

Creator Brenda Hampton cast 10-year-old Muslim and first-time actress Ashley Solomon in the role. ”The show is about prejudice, and I wanted to find a Muslim actor for the part,” says Hampton, who insists ”Heaven” is not out to preach. ”Our policy is to try to be harmless rather than helpful, which is harder to do. Part of the story is how Mary (Jessica Biel) and Lucy (Beverley Mitchell) get a petition together to support their Muslim neighbors and stop the harassment. They make a lot of people aware of Muslim neighbors they never knew they had.”

7th Heaven
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