The Manhattan Beach Project by Peter Lefcourt read by Tom Weiner

An all but dead movie director, inspired by a creative CIA operative, flies to Uzbekistan to shoot a reality show about a mafioso war lord in the post soviet territories with problems. “Wife is bitch on wheel. Son wants to join fuckink Taliban. Daughter like pussy.” A perfect formula for good reality television in Central Asia.

Their suite at the Intercontinental resembled the vegas highroller suit relocated to Riyadh: the bathrooms were marble tiled with gold gilt faucets.. there was a sunken tub, a dozen white fluffy towels, and inlaid mosaics featuring jinns floating over mosques.
“We’re flying to Nukus tomorrow afternoon.”
“Where is Nukus?”
“About a thousand kilometers from here… on the way to the Aral Sea. It’s located in Karakalpakstan which is supposed to be an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan but isn’t. It’s run, if you could call it that, by the Uzbeck government. It’s hot, ugly, polluted — used to be the location of a secret Soviet chemical weapons factory, which for all we know is still toxic. They’ve got dazed camels wandering around wild on the outskirts of town. The best hotel looks like a rundown Ramada in Utah. They got running water only 6 hours a day. The only place to eat is a Korean noodle restaurant where you got about a 50/50 chance of not getting ptomaine poisoning. And the whole town smells from rotting cotton and chemicals.”
“Sounds great.”
“You don’t find warlords in places with five star hotels.”

When they land in Nukus, which looks like a deconstructed Stalinist version of Tuscaloosa, without traffic or traffic lights, Charlie Berns (the not so dead director) hires a Polish lesbian camera woman, who falls in love with the warlords daughter. The warlords wife never leaves her tent so they write her into the script as recovering from plastic surgery in Tashkent, the warlord’s son rebels against his father to join the Taliban so they write him up as running away to law school, to escape the family business… The show becomes a hit, and is stopped only when the entire crew of Entertainment Tonight, along with the warload’s private army, the line producer and the CIA operative are held in seige in a bar in Turkmenistan by heavily armed America-hating religious fanatics, staging a jihad against profane reality television.

Another nifty look at the Hollywood sausage factory, read by Tom Weiner who sounds like he has a piece of fatty lamb Kebob swimming in his mouth.