Gideon Raff, creator of the original Israeli drama Prisoners Of War and the writer and exec producer of its Emmy-winning U.S. version Homeland, says he doesn’t know how the series’ story will end. But Bert Salke, the president of Fox 21, which produces Homeland, says he thinks the writers have a “sense of where they want Carrie to be in six years.” It needs to be remembered that the story really started with Claire Danes’ CIA agent, Salke said. At a panel for a small group of journalists here at Mip-TV today, Salke also noted that Danes and co-stars Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin have input and “influence the characters.” Homeland was renewed for a third season in October.
Talking of the genesis of the original Prisoners Of War (Hatufim in Israel), Jerusalem-born Raff explained the subject was “taboo” in his home country because there are 1,500 current prisoners of war and when any POW returns, there is a severe reticence to “know what happens to them.” Prisoners Of War was the first time such a subject had been broached on local television and “in the beginning we kind of got flack for exploiting the subject for ratings, I guess, which was a ridiculous argument. But once people saw the show, the arguments subsided,” Raff said. Now, there is controversy over Prisoners Of War, which recently concluded its second season, as did Homeland, “but it’s about the show, not the subject.”
Salke said that when Fox originally optioned Prisoners Of War for 24 alums Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, “it was thought of as a network show.” Salke says he “immediately thought it was cable. You can do so many different things on cable.” Homeland was a “tough call” for Fox chairman Kevin Reilly. “People were scared”, and because of the terrorism and counter-terrorism aspects of the show it was hard to tell where the show was going, so they approached pay channels. Showtime’s David Nevins and Matt Blank “got it right away,” per Salke. Ran Tellem, who is VP Programming at the series’ Israeli broadcaster Keshet, concurred that “half the people” at the Prisoners Of War broadcaster initially “thought we couldn’t do it. We had a POW at the time.” (more…)