Hollywood cast and crew arrived in Jerusalem this week as filming for the American television series “Dig,” the first ever large-scale television production to be filmed in the Israeli capital, begins to get underway.
“Dig,” an action-adventure series for NBC-Universal, follows an American FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem as he struggles to solve a murder and along the way begins to unravel a centuries-old conspiracy. It is co-written by Gideon Raff, the Israeli television genius behind “Homeland,” and “Heroes” writer Tim Kring. Actors Anne Heche and Jason Isaacs, as well as director S.J. Clarkson, all arrived in Jerusalem this week.
It’s been a busy month for Raff — he has another television program headed for U.S. screens, FX’s “Tyrant,” currently filming in Tel Aviv.
“Dig” made headlines last fall when NBC snatched up the entire series before first committing to a pilot. Networks generally finance the production of a single episode to test a program’s viability, and for “Dig,” which is being co-produced by Keshet Media Group’s Avi Nir, NBC’s move was an incredible sign of faith.
There have been a few bumps along the way to filming, as well. Palestinian groups cried foul after a press release was circulated by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s office claiming that filming would be centered in Jerusalem’s City of David, which is part of an area Palestinians claim for a future state. NBC was quick to deny that they ever planned to film in the area, and Barkat himself has said that bringing Hollywood productions to the City of Gold can only create good.
“When Hollywood and the Holy City meet, the sky’s the limit,” Barkat said after NBC signed on for the program.
Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, who met with cast and crew shortly after their arrival, echoed Barkat’s sentiment.
“A picture is worth a thousand words — sometimes shooting a series in Israel is worth more than a thousand publicity tours of the country,” Bennett said.