A leading Palestinian official has asked US broadcaster NBC to halt all production on a major new US drama series set to be filmed next year in East Jerusalem.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, called on NBC to scrap all plans for filming “DIG,” an archaeological thriller from “Homeland” writer Gideon Raff, in the City of David National Park near the walls of the Old City. Much of the action of the show, which follows a US FBI agent who stumbles upon a massive conspiracy while struggling to solve a murder, is slated to be filmed within the walls and tunnels of the park.
The program, from the Israeli media giant Keshet, has garnered broad support from the Jerusalem mayor, who has pledged to grant production teams unfettered access to the city’s historical sites. “With the support of Israeli authorities and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the first season will brand Jerusalem’s history and heritage as a Jewish city and the capital of Israel,” the PLO said Tuesday in a press release, citing the show’s potential influence over “hundreds of millions” of global viewers.
“Such a production will legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the authenticity and character of the occupied city. Any business or organization that deals with Israel in Occupied Palestine is in flagrant breach of international law, conventions, and consensus, respectively,” Ashrawi said. “It is evident that these efforts coincide with Israel’s intensive and accelerated efforts to annex and ethnically cleanse Jerusalem. The choice to film the series in Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem is designed to endorse the occupation and the bitter reality experienced by Palestinian Jerusalemites.”
“DIG” has been signed for six-episode deal with USA Network, a subsidiary of NBC Universal. It is the first-ever Israeli series to be bought for a season without first producing a pilot. Raff will serve as co-creator along with “Heroes” creator Tim Kring, and Keshet’s CEO Avi Nir will serve as a co-producer, much as he did with “Homeland.”