With its highest-rated night ever, HOMELAND‘s season two finale delivered 2.7 million viewers for the night, surpassing last week’s total (2.6 million) as the best total night delivery ever for the series and up 31 percent from its season 2 premiere night (vs. 2.1 million). At 10 p.m. the finale garnered 2.3 million viewers, up 32 percent versus the season two premiere (vs. 1.7 million). Season-to-date, the second season of HOMELAND is averaging 5.9 million total weekly viewers across platforms, up 37 percent above its freshman season and now ranks as the network’s second highest rated series.
Source: Broadway World
In Ilan Ramon’s words, this is a story of “what a person can do when they go from the depths of hell, to the heights of space.”
“A kid last week said to another kid, ‘I have two moms,’ ” recalled Idan Netzer, who oversees the center’s preschool, which opened in November. “And the other kid said: ‘So what? Daniel in my kindergarten has two moms too.’ ”
It’s been a big year for gay parents in Israel. In May a committee of the Health Ministry recommended that surrogacy be allowed for gay men. (Currently they can only travel abroad for that option.) A month later organizers of Tel Aviv Pride, one of the city’s largest annual events, splashed images of two real-life gay fathers and their children on publicity materials and a banner next to Town Hall, making them the faces of the festivities.
But the societal change really hit home with the premiere in November of “Mom and Dads,” a series on the cable channel Hot. This comic drama, starring three of Israel’s most popular actors, is about a gay couple raising a child with a single woman.
If that sounds familiar, it might be because the basic premise, on the surface at least, bears a striking resemblance to the American show on NBC, “The New Normal,” which just landed in Israel as well, appearing opposite “Mom and Dads” on another big cable network, Yes. While the American show mines laughs from outrageous characters and snarky one-liners, “Mom and Dads” focuses on the complex dynamics of the parental triangle, layering their insecurities and complicated emotions with wry humor.
The shows may be fighting for viewers, but they’ve already won the battle for acceptance. For the most part Israeli society, which has made long and quick strides in gay rights in the past two decades, has reacted to the baby bump and the programs about it with nonchalance. Even the country’s sizable religious segment has merely shrugged at the series.
“As soon as the gay community became a parental community, I think acceptance by society became smoother,” said Doron Mamet-Meged, founder of Tammuz, a business that helps couples, the majority of them gay men, have children via surrogates in India.
One reason may be a heavy cultural focus on making families, and the subtle social pressure (and not-so-subtle familial pressure) to procreate that stems from tradition as well as modern Jewish history.
The population balance between Jews and Arabs has political implications, so demographics are an Israeli obsession. In building families gay parents contribute to the national project of maintaining a Jewish majority. “For Israelis it doesn’t matter how you make a family,” said Mirit Toovi, who heads Hot’s drama department and gave the green light to “Mom and Dads.” “If you make a family, you’ve done the right thing.”
Avner Bernheimer, a creator and writer of “Mom and Dads” who also wrote the breakthrough gay Israeli film “Yossi & Jagger” in 2002. Mr. Bernheimer said that while his father accepted him when he first came out, it wasn’t until he had a child that he really felt embraced. “I think it was easier for him to have a gay son with a grandchild,” he said.
Mr. Bernheimer pitched “Mom and Dads” in 2007, when he and his partner were in the process of having a child with a single female friend. The show, in large part, dramatizes their experiences.
“It was the easiest sale ever,” he said of the pitch. Gay characters had appeared on Israeli TV by then, but not gay families. This was pre-“Modern Family,” so there wasn’t precedent. Tellingly, Israel skipped over the party-boy phase (“Queer as Folk”) and the professional bachelor phase (“Will & Grace”), seemingly uninterested in a gay bedroom until a crib arrived.
The surge in gay parenthood coincides with a number of high-profile court cases between 2002 and 2009 that put the issue on the public agenda and opened possibilities to same-sex couples, like adoption and surrogacy abroad, paternity leave for gay couples and the ability to adopt the biological child of a same-sex partner.
While lesbians and straight single women have been having children for decades, thanks in part to the state’s generous policies, which provide free in-vitro fertilization procedures for up to two children until parents are 45, gay men didn’t have a way to legally expand their family tree until the recent court decisions. Since then parenthood has preoccupied gay men — more so than marriage. (Courts recognized same-sex marriage performed abroad in 2006, leading the gay community to turn its attention to parenting, trading the chuppah for the bris as its ritual of choice.)
Parenthood “is more visible, it’s more practical, more possible,” said Itai Pinkas, a former Tel Aviv City Council member who brought the court case that led to the Health Ministry committee’s recommendation and who has 2-year-old twins with his partner through a surrogate in India.
“People feel more stable about their general civil rights,” he said. “That’s an atmosphere in which you’re more likely to think about having children.”
That surrogacy has become so common is perhaps less surprising when you realize that the practice has biblical roots. Consider the story of Abraham, who fathered a child through Hagar, his wife’s handmaiden, when his wife, Sarah, was unable to conceive.
A few millenniums later companies like Tammuz are capitalizing on Abraham’s example. In February the American-based support organization Men Having Babies will hold a conference at the Tel Aviv Gay Center to introduce 10 new surrogacy agencies.
“Mom and Dads” and “The New Normal” seem to have unintentionally reflected reality rather than challenged it. “We were afraid it would be a bit niche,” Ms. Toovi said. “When we started talking about it, you saw those new families only in Tel Aviv. But now you see them all around.”
Yoram Mokady, vice president for content at the Yes network, agreed. “We thought we were brave and unique,” he said. “But maybe we weren’t.”
by Dudi Caspi
The PETA viral video comes days after Raff issued an open letter to the British Ministry of Defense, protesting the use of live pigs in battlefield doctors training in the UK. He advised them to follow in the Israel Defense Forces’ footsteps, who had already concluded that it was far better to work with injury simulators than live helpless animals.
In the video, 39 year old Raff recounts his Israeli army service as a paratrooper and affirms his belief that it is wrong to use animals for military training purposes. He goes on to acknowledge incorporating pro animal rights derived story-lines into his artistic work, albeit he admits he cannot take credit for Claire Danes’ character Carrie Matheson stating she does not eat meat on an episode of “Homeland”.
The Emmy award winning “Homeland” finished its second season amidst significant backlash from television critics, who felt the narrative lost its way half way through with preposterous plot developments that accelerated the show’s core story and made it implausible. However, “Homeland” and its three big names – Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin – were all nominated last week respectively for the upcoming 70th annual Golden Globes. Danes and the show itself both won awards last year.
Raff is finishing 2012 splendidly. Last week he and fellow “Homeland” executive producer Howard Gordon sold a new TV drama pilot to the FX network, called “Tyrant.” The plot revolves around an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. If “Tyrant” is indeed ordered to series, former “Six Feet Under” and “Lost” writer Craig Wright would be show-runner. Shooting of the pilot is tentatively scheduled for spring.
Raff’s PETA video can be viewed below.
Cinema or theater, books or newspapers, sports or television? A new survey released by the Central Bureau of Statistics analyzes and specifies Israelis’ hobbies.
According to the compiled figures, which relate to 2011, 24% of the population over the age of 20 participate in classes or courses not for the purpose of professional training. Men attend classes at lower rates than women – 20% compared to 28%.
Unsurprisingly, the extent of participation in leisure activities has to do with a person’s income level. People earning more than NIS 4,000 (about $1,045) on average engage in such activities two or three times more than people earning up to NIS 2,000 ($525).
For example, 58% of high-income visited museums and art exhibitions compared to 16% of low-income individuals, but only 19% of high-income individuals went out to see a movie compared to 66% of low-income individuals.
The most common leisure activity is sports. Men engage in sports more than women (55% compared to 24%) and watch more sports events. Women, on the other hand, visit the theater more often than men (50% compared to 43%) and read books more often (67% compared to 57%).
Forty-one percent of Israeli who read books devote up to two hours a week to that hobby, 27% devote two to five hours, and 24% – more than five hours a week.
One of the most popular leisure activities is reading a newspaper: Eighty-four percent of Israelis over the age of 20 said they read newspapers. Men prefer articles on news and politics (86% compared to 72% of women), economics (51% compared to 22%) and sports (39% compared to 3%).
As for watching television or films at home, 23% of Israelis do it up to one hour a day, 32% – one to two hours a day, 23% – two to five hours a day, and 6% – more than five hours a day. Thirteen percent don’t watch television at all.
With the massive success of “Homeland” and “In Treatment” in the United States, both adaptations of popular Israeli TV series, New Regency signed a deal back in February with Israel’s ADD to export Israeli content to the US. The first project to be born of this relationship was just confirmed.
Yoram Kanuik’s novel, “Kesem Al Yam Kinneret” (“Magic on Lake Kinneret”) has been optioned.
“Kesem Al Yam Kinneret” was published in 1994 and, according to Deadline.com, is “considered Kanuik’s most extreme work” and has been described by critics as “the closest to Tarantino an Israeli creation has ever gotten.”
New Regency plans to adapt the book, following a young woman’s spontaneous decision to “live life on her own terms,” into a half-hour satirical black comedy.
“The opportunity to develop shows from IP that provide this type of unique spin and distinct voice is exactly why we are in business with ADD,” said Andrew Plotkin, New Regency’s new EVP Television.
“With the recent success in the industry of adapting Israeli content for American audiences, most notably Showtime’s ‘Homeland,’ we are looking forward to adapting Kanuik’s unique vision for American television.”