Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shalom Tower in the Beirut Skyline

Israel has just bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the latest intelligence reports suggest that only 4 out of 5 plants were taken out of operation. This news is playing in the background in the opening scenes of the new season of Showtime’s “Homeland”, the Emmy-winning series that has its origins in an Israeli television drama.

Each new episode of “Homeland” is airing in Israel on YES satellite television only days after being broadcast in the United States, so Israelis are fully up to speed on bipolar former C.I.A. agent Carrie Mathison and former POW-turned-terrorist Nicholas Brody. Israelis watching the show will be pleasantly surprised to recognize some of the settings of the initial episodes of Season Two.

What is Tel Aviv’s Shalom Tower doing in the Beirut skyline?

The “Homeland” production team came to Israel earlier this year, filming some of the scenes with Jaffa playing the role of Beirut, where the opening action takes place.

According to one commentator, the portrayal was far from realistic. “Homeland” showed “none of the bling and the glamour that fairly or unfairly has come to define modern Lebanon. The cars were those ancient and ropy Mercedes from central casting, but the reality is that there are probably more Porsche Cayennes per capita in Beirut than there are in Stuttgart,” wrote Michael Karam in The National (AbuDhabi).

For the keen observer, the Tel Aviv skyline was visible in the background of at least one scene, and that is where I spotted the Shalom Tower, appearing just behind actress Claire Dane’s head.

Based on a hit Israeli show

“Homeland” is based on the hit Israeli show “Hatufim” (English title: “Prisoners of War”), which just started its second season on Israel’s Channel Two. The original Israeli show focuses on the families of the kidnapped soldiers and broaches issues of post-traumatic stress disorder, uneasy adjustment, and lingering suspicions.

The creator of “Hatufim”, Gideon Raff, teamed up with Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (who had previously worked together on the hit show “24”) to develop the American adaptation of the show.

"Homeland" swept the 2012 Emmy awards last month when it received recognition as the Outstanding Drama Series, as well as receiving the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes respectively.

As for me, I eagerly await Saturday nights, when each new episode is broadcast in Israel. What will Carrie Mathison do, now that her suspicions of Nicholas Brody’s real intentions are proven by undeniable evidence? 

Undoubtedly there will be twists and turns and many surprises in the weeks ahead and I will be along for the ride.

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