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Spielberg Plans ‘Docudrama’ at Israeli Hospital

‘Survivor’ meets ‘E.R.’ meets Jerusalem

Jordan Chandler Hirsch
December 04, 2009
Spielberg to produce Israeli “docudrama”(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Spielberg to produce Israeli “docudrama”(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center—one of the world’s busiest hospitals—normally treats secular and Haredi Jews, Israeli-Arabs and West Bank Palestinians, and Jewish settlers. But even emergency heart surgery is a less formidable challenge than the one the hospital will assume in 2011: satisfying America’s insatiable desire for quality reality television. Steven Spielberg and Everybody Loves Raymond producer Phil Rosenthal hope to use Shaare Tzedek as the setting for a new American “docudrama” in which U.S. doctors will be thrust into this fraught, high-paced setting, where—believe it or not, kids—Arabs and Jews somehow work together. According to the series’ Israeli producer, the show will capture the contrast between the “innocent [American] outsiders” and their more experienced, native counterparts. This might not be the only project Rosenthal attempts in Israel, either; he’s already reportedly talking to local production companies about creating a sitcom for Israeli television. Has anyone told him that the doctor series might, for its Israeli audience, already fit the bill?

Jordan Chandler Hirsch is staff editor at Foreign Affairs.