Hollywood gets hot for Israel.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
way:' Nina Tassler, president of CBS
Entertainment, said of the Israeli film and
Danny Sussman, an agent representing
television actors who helps organize the Tel
n the dim light of an art-house movie
Aviv master class, now in its 11th year, says
theater, Darren Star, creator of Sex and
he has gone from pleading with top execu-
the City and Beverly Hills 90210, pauses tives to come to Tel Aviv to fielding phone
during a talk to Israeli and U.S. screenwrit-
calls from them asking to participate.
ers, directors and producers to let them in
"Heads of production, directors, writers
on a little secret: Some of his favorite cre-
— they want to come and work and see this
ations were canceled.
movement, this new wave said Sussman,
"You cannot control all the factors that
who has represented actors including Noah
will make a show successful," he says.
Wyle, Jimmy Smits and Chloe Sevigny.
Star was among several high-profile
"In Treatment [Be'Tipul' in Hebrew] is a
Hollywood figures who came to Israel
great example of how a show successfully
earlier this summer to teach at the Tel Aviv- translated to American television:' Star said.
Los Angeles film and TV master class pro-
"I think Israelis are great storytellers, and
gram sponsored by the Los Angeles Jewish
not to have a cultural prejudice, but I think
Federation in conjunction with the Tel Aviv Jews are good storytellers and we have sto-
Cinemateque and Tel Aviv University.
rytelling in our tradition."
Amid seminars on nurturing ideas to the
Star said he first visited Israel at 16 with
big screen and insider views of how execu-
his Jewish youth group.
tives choose shows in the current economic
Noting the attractively low cost of pro-
malaise, there was a palpable buzz about
ducing a show like In Treatment, which
the talent to be found in the Israeli televi-
chronicles the sessions of a psychologist
and his patients on a two-room set, Star
Israel is making a name for itself as a
added, "I think it's all about telling stories
country that produces good entertainment.
and I think being clever, especially with the
The first Israeli drama series adapted for
economics of television today. We need to
American television, HBO's In Treatment, is make less expensive programming.
up for an Emmy on Sunday night.
"If you can figure out a way here to
Several other Israeli-based shows have
make a compelling program in a way that
been sold to networks like NBC, CBS,
is entertaining on an Israeli budget and it
Showtime and Fox. And Israel's film indus-
works here, there is a good chance it's going
try has scored a number of recent suc-
to work in the States as well;' Star said.
cesses, including the Golden Globe winner
Another recent HBO acquisition from
Waltz With Bashir.
Israeli television also well regarded for its
"It is definitely on the radar in a big
economical format is Sceenz (Masachim
Special to the Jewish News
New SNL Cast
Saturday Night Live has been short
on female cast members since the
departure of Amy Poehler and Tina
Fey, so it wasn't a big surprise when it
was unofficially announced last week
that two new women would be added
Jenny Slate, 25,
who has long been
the darling of hip
New York City com-
edy clubs. She often
appears with Gabe
Jewish comic. Slate and Liedman met
as Columbia University students in
2000 and describe themselves as best
friends and non-sexual life partners.
This spring, Slate presented a
one-woman comedy show, Dead
Millionaire, in New York. She imagined
a future as a famous performer; upon
her death, a raft of characters (played
by Slate) come back to offer their
memories of her.
The show opens with Slate playing
a TV anchor reporting live from the
synagogue services in Canton, Mass.
(Slate's real-life home town), report-
ing on the tragic death of this "Jewy
The 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards,
in Hebrew). Like In
Treatment, all the action
takes place in just two
rooms with characters
interacting online via their
Nina Tassler, right, president of CBS Entertainment,
Sceenz producer Yoram talks to Israeli actress Leor Hashin at a master class on
Mandel said he came up
film and television in Tel Aviv.
with the idea in part as
a response to the con-
that her network, CBS, aired briefly last fall.
straints of Israel's low budgets for television
Called The Ex Files, the program was
an adaptation of the Israeli show Ha'Ex
Hagai Levy, creator of the Israeli In
Ha'Mythologi, in which a single woman
Treatment, said his best advice for those
revisits past boyfriends searching for "the
trying to find success in Hollywood is not
one" after a fortuneteller informs her she
to think about Hollywood while creating
already has met the man of her dreams.
For Nevo Ziv, a 30-year-old Israeli screen-
"I did my own thing. I never wanted to
writer who has written for Israeli dramas
go to America. It was never my purpose,"
and the Israeli version of Sesame Street, the
he told JTA. "The only advice I can give is
master classes were a place to learn but also
to make your own thing and focus on what
"an adrenalin shot of passion."
you really want to say."
Working in the entertainment industry
Israel, he said, can be a good incubator.
in Israel is not easy, he said. The work is
"If you have to work for cheap, some-
unstable, and the pressure to quit and get a
times you have to become more creative,'
"real job" is high.
Levy said. "And, of course, it's a very inter-
Ziv said the class "gives us inspiration to
esting place, Israel."
see others who have made it."
Tassler told the master class, which was
Next year, a new group of Israeli students
made up of Israelis and about 12 visiting
will join their counterparts in Los Angeles
American Jews working in the industry in
to attend workshops there and see the
Los Angeles, that Israel is fertile ground for
workings of the American TV and film
"Drama is conflict, and the fact that
"L.A. is a great experience; you have
Israelis live with conflict — humor comes
to see it to believe it:' said Levy, the In
out of conflict, good drama comes out of
Treatment creator. "Its a very different place
conflict," she said.
where things work very differently with the
Tassler said she also likes the focus on
power of agents and power of money. You
the personal and intimate stories she has
have to experience it once and then go back
seen in Israeli writing, including a show
to your desk and write."
for excellence in TV, air 8 p.m. Sunday,
Sept. 20, on CBS.
Four of the six nominees for best
voice-over performance are Jewish:
Ron Rifkin, for a PBS documentary
on the life of Jerome Robbins, the
famous dancer/choreographer; Seth
Green (for various roles on Robot
Chicken, an animated series he also
produces); Hank Azaria and Harry
Shearer (for various roles on the ani-
mated series The Simpsons).
Green also is nominated as the pro-
ducer of Robot Chicken, which is up for
an Emmy for Best Animated Series.
He competes with James L. Brooks,
producer of The Simpsons, and Matt
Stone, producer of South Park.
Sarah Silverman (The Sarah
Silverman Program) is nominated
for Outstanding Lead Actress in a
Comedy Series, while Kyra Sedgwick
(The Closer) picked up another Emmy
nomination for Lead Actress in a
William Shatner is nominated for
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Series (Boston Public) for playing
lawyer Denny Crane, his fifth nomina-
tion in a row for this part. He won the
award in 2004. Another veteran, Ed
Asner, is up for Best Guest Actor in
a Drama Series, for playing Jewish
character Abraham Klein in a CSI: NY
episode titled "Yahrzeit."
Matthew Weiner, the creator of
Mad Men, is nominated four times
for Outstanding Writing for a Drama
Series for four different episodes. The
only other nominee in the category