When the season finale of the Showtime thriller "Homeland" ran last month, it didn't just cap Claire Danes' triumphant return to series television -- it marked the latest milestone for a small country that lately has become an improbable player in Hollywood.
"Homeland," which broke Showtime's ratings record for a first-year series finale, is adapted from the Israeli show "Hatufim" (Prisoners of War). It's one of a host of U.S. programs that began life as a Hebrew-language series in this Mediterranean nation of only 8 million people. "Who's Still Standing?," the new NBC quiz program in which contestants answering incorrectly are dropped through a hole in the floor, is also an Israeli import. So is the former HBO scripted series "In Treatment," which starred Gabriel Byrne and ran for three seasons.
All very interesting, but just how improbable is it, that a hi-tech-saturated country populated almost entirely by Jews would find success in the entertainment business?