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Saturday, December 05, 2009

American TV series to be based in Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital

An American television series based in Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital is to start running in 2011 on something called the Sundance Channel (forgive me, but I've been out of the US for too long to have heard of that channel). This would not be big news except that it is being made by Steven Spielberg and Phil Rosenthal.
"The idea is to take a small group of American doctors and bring them to this hot spot in the world. Shaare Zedek is one of the busiest hospitals in Jerusalem, and it's a kind of fascinating situation where you have Arab doctors working next to Jewish doctors, patients of all kinds as well, and you have to check your religion at the door.

"The ideology is that we're only here to help people. It's a microcosm for how it can be, how it should be."

Rosenthal added that the hook for American viewers is the exchange program, where American doctors would come to work alongside Israeli doctors and learn the ins and outs of both the pressure-filled emergency treatment that the Israelis have excelled in due to terror attacks, and the multifaceted social intricacies taking place amongst the Jewish, Christian and Arab populace at the hospital.

According to the series' local producer, Zafrir Kochanovsky of TTV Productions, it's that fish-out-of-water syndrome that will attract the viewers.

"This measure of culture shock, on both the professional and sociological level, will explore an additional side of Jerusalem, combining perspectives of veteran Israelis and Jerusalemites with the innocence of these outsiders," said Kochanovksy, a TV veteran whose hit series Merhak Negia (Touching Distance) was bought last year for adaptation by the American TV network HBO.

"We have no idea what we're going to find, but I imagine that stories will beget stories," said Rosenthal. "A patient will come with an interesting life and we'll follow them for a while. You never know, and it's fun, if I can say fun, to see how Americans are going to do here - not just in the business of the hospital, but socially - who are they going to live with and what's their daily life going to be like?"
Rosenthal is the producer of the sitcom Everyone loves Raymond (which is shown regularly on the airline I fly most often to the US, but I long ago gave up watching the entertainment on the airlines) and is a long time supporter of Shaare Zedek.



At 2:53 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There was one Israeli show adapted for American television last year that turned out to be a ratings flop. Time will tell if this new Jerusalem-based series will fare any better with American viewers.


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