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‘Dig’ on USA: Producers Debut Trailer, Talk Israel Filming Difficulties and Limited Series Model

USA Network debuted the first trailer from new drama “Dig” at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour on Monday, with executive producers Tim Kring and Gideon Raff, along with stars Anne Heche and Jason Isaacs, on hand to introduce the high-concept series.

Drawing comparisons to “The Da Vinci Code,” USA’s “Dig” stars Isaacs as Peter Connelly, an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating a mystery surrounding a young female archeologist named Emma (Alison Sudol), uncovers a conspiracy 2000 years in the making. Heche stars as Lynn Monahan, the head of the Jerusalem FBI office, Peter’s boss and casual lover. Regina Taylor joins the cast in the recurring role of Ruth Ridell, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel who has little time for the problems that Peter creates with the local authorities. Also recurring in the series are actors David Costabile, playing Ted Billingham, a coiffed and charming man whose status as an authoritative bestselling author of religious books and TV personality has given him the access and funds to build a discreet religious congregation; and Omar Metwally who plays Yussef Khalid, an American who disappeared after being accused of murder.

The pilot for the six-episode series was shot in location on Jerusalem, but given the current tensions in the region, producer Raff admitted that the network and studio are assessing the situation and looking at other options should it become necessary to film the rest of the series elsewhere. The show is in the midst of a pre-planned hiatus between the pilot and production on the remaining five installments. “Hopefully everything will calm down and we’ll go back to what we planned and if not, we’ll sort it out,” Raff said. “I was born and raised in Jerusalem… our hearts go out to everyone in Israel and Gaza right now and hopefully it’ll be resolved very soon.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli-Palestinian Fighting Puts Entertainment Biz on Edge

The producers chose Jerusalem as their base because the city is steeped in history, prophecy and mythology, and Isaacs said he was shocked at how many of the conspiracy theories and plot points in the pilot are based in truth. “There are forces and people and groups in the world that are doing some terrifying things,” he said. Still, Kring noted, the show doesn’t take a position on the beliefs and theories presented in the show, merely uses them as a framework for the larger story arc.

Kring admitted that while the plot is designed to be closed-ended and is being touted as a limited event series, it also “has the possibility of taking these same characters and moving to another story after those six hours,” if the show proves successful with viewers. They already have other locales in mind for future seasons (“Hawaii,” Isaacs coughed).

Heche was attracted to the role because “I like women who have a sense of themselves and who they are even in serious situations. I like complicated characters… Lynn, even though she’s with the FBI, she’s a complicated woman, she has a deep tie to Peter but has a great individual spirit,” she said. “She’s a woman who’s open on many different levels, she’s not a cookie cutter FBI lady … I wanted her to be a little bit more complex than that.”

While the relationship between Lynn and Peter is “complex” and the two have a somewhat ill-advised sexual relationship, Kring said that their dynamic is “ultimately about friendship, which you don’t often see in these types of shows.”

Kring also created NBC’s “Heroes,” and will soon begin work on the limited event series revival, “Heroes Reborn.” Kring’s work on “Dig” predates the greenlighting of “Heroes Reborn,” so the producer demurred, “I’ve been working on this for a year and a half and hopefully I’ll be able to talk about that when it comes on deck.”

Watch the first trailer for “Dig” below.

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