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Jeff Wachtel is diving into the increasingly popular event series business.
Wachtel, in his new position as president and chief content officer at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, has made his first major move: a six-episode event series commitment for Dig, an action-adventure drama from Heroes‘ Tim Kring and Homeland‘s Gideon Raff. The series, which was developed by Keshet (Homeland) in association with BermanBraun, will air on Wachtel’s former network, USA, in late 2014.
Dig, from Universal Cable Productions, explores the world of Peter, an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating the murder of an archeologist, uncovers a conspiracy 2,000 years in the making that threatens to change the course of history.
Keshet Media Group CEO Avi Nir along with Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein of BermanBraun will serve as executive producers on the effort. Dig is a production of Keshet Media Group for UCP in cooperation with the city of Jerusalem. The deal was brokered by WME.
“As we enter this new chapter for our studio and our portfolio, we’ve been looking for a project that makes a statement,” Wachtel said in a statement announcing the news Wednesday. “This team of storytellers has put together a smart, sophisticated and compelling show that will hit the market with a big bang and a lasting impression.”
Nir added: “We cannot think of a more outstanding group of partners with whom to collaborate on such a captivating and original project as Dig. With the talented Gideon and a showrunner as prolific and prominent as Tim at the helm, the show is in the hands of those who are able to capture human nature and drama at its rawest moments. Dig is a very special kind of Keshet project, and we appreciate Jeff and his team’s passion as we look to develop the best incarnation of the show. Plus, we greatly appreciate Mayor Nir Barkat for opening the gates of his city to us to set the scene for authenticity and a thrilling backdrop.”
Q&A: ‘Homeland’s’ Israeli Creator Gideon Raff Talks Taboos, Budgets and Big Success
Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, was similarly enthusiastic in his statement, noting: “When we combine Hollywood’s creative potential with Jerusalem’s historic backdrop, it will result in the ability to connect hundreds of millions of viewers around the world to this unique and beautiful city. There is an undeniable inspiration and creative energy in Jerusalem, which is why it has become a center for international film production. When Hollywood and the Holy City meet, the sky is the limit.”
The event series space has grown particularly popular, with cable and broadcast networks creating divisions focused specifically on the genre. USA dabbled in the format with its 2012 summer play, Political Animals, from Greg Berlanti. Though there was potential that that effort would live beyond its short run, the series’ commercial results didn’t match the buzz it garnered from critics.
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