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Will new cable thriller focused on Jerusalem archeology whitewash the settlers?

Adam Horowitz

13expulsion-580x380.jpg

Palestinian stand in front of a protest tent in Silwan on February 27, 2009. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

November 13, 2013


The New York Times reports a new show for the USA Network will take place in Jerusalem:

On Wednesday, USA is to announce a deal for the most expensive and ambitious drama the network has ever commissioned: "Dig," an action series set (and shot) in Jerusalem and based in the world of archaeology. The network hopes it will be, in the words of Jeff Wachtel, the chief content officer for NBCUniversal’s cable networks, "the big, buzz-worthy project" that USA has been looking for.

The show, which the network is calling an "event series," will start as a six-episode season, probably next fall. The plan is to expand to 13 episodes for a second season.

"Dig" is being jointly created by Gideon Raff, who brought "Homeland" to life, first as an Israeli television series, and Tim Kring, who fashioned the breakout hit "Heroes" for NBC seven years ago. It will be produced by BermanBraun, the media company headed by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun, former network (Fox and ABC) programming chiefs, along with Avi Nir, the chief executive of the increasingly influential Keshet Media Group in Israel.

The series is broadly described as a murder mystery at a dig site in the Old City of Jerusalem that eventually uncovers a conspiracy extending back 2,000 years. "It has a kind of Indiana Jones meets 'The Da Vinci Code’ vibe," Mr. Wachtel said. . . .

Beyond the premise, which sounds unlike anything else currently on television, and the credentials of the production team, what distinguishes "Dig" is its connection to Israel, which, in recent years, has become a fount of television ideas for American networks. Mr. Nir had been especially aggressive in seeking to bring an American television series to Israel for full production on location, Mr. Rosen said.

Homeland is the most notable Israeli crossover success on American television so far, and it seems this new series could easily eclipse the dubious politics of the Showtime hit. If the show is going to focus on Jerusalem "digs" then it will almost definitely venture into the occupied territories, and especially the "City of David" project being led by the right-wing settler group Elad in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The excavation has already been used to take Palestinian land in the area and demolish Palestinian property. Will this be the setting for USA’s new "event series?"

The Times quotes Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat as being fully behind the deal:

Toward that end, the production has already enlisted the cooperation of Nir Barkat, recently re-elected as mayor of Jerusalem, who has promised wide access to the historical areas of the Old City and other landmarks.

Barkat is a staunch supporter of Elad and the settlers in Silwan.

Also remember Barkat recently went on a junket to Hollywood hoping to drum up business in Jerusalem saying it is "not only good business, it’s good Zionism." The Hollywood Reporter wrote:

Nir Barkat, mayor of the Israeli capital, quietly traveled to Los Angeles the week of May 20 to talk up his city’s new entertainment production initiative. In an interview with THR, Barkat says he hopes to capitalize not only on the ancient site’s historical locations, mild climate and a package of modern-day tax incentives, but on Hollywood’s deep strains of support for the Jewish state.

His trip seems to have paid dividends as Hollywood’s deep "strains of support" for Israel seem are increasingly turning into financial ties as well.



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:: Article nr. 102584 sent on 14-nov-2013 16:11 ECT

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