Fauda is still our first baby, says Issacharoff at ToI event

‘Fauda’ co-creator plans Season 4, also at work on a Sex-in-the-City type comedy

Avi Issacharoff talks about future projects and his past misadventures as a journalist in Gaza at special screening in Tel Aviv

“Fauda” co-creator Avi Issacharoff announced that a fourth season of the hit Israeli thriller is in the works during an English-subtitled screening of the first two episodes of the show’s latest season at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Wednesday.

The third season, which premiered on YES at the end of December 2019 — but not yet on Netflix — is “going to be even more painful” than the first two, he said.

Following the screening, Issacharoff spoke about the making of the series, its success and his future projects, in an onstage interview with Times of Israel culture editor Jessica Steinberg.

Issacharoff and his co-creator, actor Lior Raz, who plays special agent Doron in the show, are also working on other projects including the drama “Hit and Run,” along with two other American showrunners, and a “Sex in the City”-type comedy based on the writing of New York blogger Sarah Rosen.

It’s fun to work on other kinds of projects, Issacharoff said, adding that his and Raz’s “baby” is still “Fauda.”

“It’s not just an adventure, it’s a kind of baby, and we love this baby,” he said. “‘Fauda’ is still our first baby.”

The third season of “Fauda” brings the undercover Israeli unit to the Gaza Strip, a place where Issacharoff hasn’t been since 2007, when the Israel Defense Forces banned Israeli journalists from entering for safety reasons.

He recounted to the audience some of his own misadventures in the Palestinian-controlled southern enclave, including one that took place on his last trip while visiting Palestinian mourners in Rafah. He had received a phone call from the Israeli army warning him about a possible Hamas kidnapping that was planned for him.

“A real, live fauda,” he said, referring to the Arab word for chaos.

‘Fauda’ creator Avi Issacharoff speaks with ToI’s Jessica Steinberg about the third season of the hit series at the Tel Aviv Arts Council event on February 12, 2020 (Courtesy Markus Cohn)

That event happened just before Gilad Shalit was abducted. At the time, Issacharoff had his driver meander back toward the border with Israel by way of an alternate route, rather than the main road where he thought someone would try to ambush him.

“Journalism isn’t the safest profession on earth,” he said, “and it wasn’t the only threat that I had.”

These experiences, as well as his background in the Israeli army’s special forces and those of Raz, who served in the same unit, are what both men try to bring to their TV drama, Issacharoff said.

“We want to make the audience feel, ‘Wow, did this really happen?'” he said.

There’s also Issacharoff’s own work and experience as a correspondent for The Times of Israel and other newspapers that bring a vein of truth and real action to the show, although he admitted that he’s working much less as a reporter these days, missing the adrenaline that comes with the job.

“I’m not going to the West Bank at the same rate,” he said.

But he’s not completely out of touch.

He recalled a phone call from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which the Palestinian leader rang to tell him that he was still alive after a recent spell of sickness.

During one of those conversations, Abbas chided him about not being married — Issacharoff is divorced and has a long-time girlfriend — and told him to “marry one of ours.”

He also received a call from former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan’s people, asking him about the expected timing for the third season of “Fauda.”

The show has won accolades and millions of fans all over the world — it’s screened in 190 countries and was named by The New York Times as one of the 30 best international TV shows of the decade, but the creators try not to think of it as an international show, said Issacharoff.

“It’s an Israeli TV show,” he said. “We took the most Israeli story, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and we tried to make it authentic, to take it to a more personal level.”

It’s a process that’s done over the course of about a year, said Issacharoff, starting with a small group of them arguing in his apartment and eating his mother’s food, then with the writers and finally with the director.

In the end, he said, they shoot about two and a half seasons of “Fauda” for the same cost as one episode of an American TV show.

“We’ve got a lot of appetite, and we’re storytellers at the end of the day,” he said. “We have a lot to tell from Israel and from outside Israel and we’re trying to bring that to the screen.”

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