Tim Kring (left) and Gideon Raff are behind some of today's most popular TV shows. Tim Kring (left) and Gideon Raff are behind some of today's most popular TV shows. Tim Kring (left) and Gideon Raff are behind some of today's most popular TV shows. (Photo: Christopher Polk / USA)

A backstage interview with 2 of today's hottest Hollywood producers

Find out what’s next from the creators of ‘Homeland,’ ‘Heroes’ and ‘Dig’ as the dynamic duo embarks on new adventures.

The creator of “Heroes,” “Heroes Reborn” and “Touch,” Tim Kring, 58, is a native Californian with three decades of experience in Hollywood. Gideon Raff, a 42-year-old from Jerusalem, turned his Israeli hit into the Emmy-winning “Homeland” and scored another success with FX’s “Tyrant.” Together, they collaborated on the limited series “Dig,” a smash for the USA network last spring, and it’s been a mutual admiration society ever since.

“We are very similar in sensibilities,” Raff told From The Grapevine after an appearance recently in Los Angeles, where the two discussed their work. “We have a lot of respect for each other and we both want the process to be fun. In working with him, it’s always the better idea wins. It’s not about ego.”

“He’s very gut-oriented and I’m very head-oriented. We feel our way through things and we laugh a lot,” added Kring. Both had fun globetrotting from Israel to Croatia to Mexico to shoot “Dig,” and they’re still working together.

Kring became acquainted with leaders in the Israeli TV industry while making the pilot for "Dig,” and marvels “how creative and vibrant the industry is. The sensibility is really translatable to English-speaking audiences. It’s why Hollywood is starting to look to the Israeli market as an incubator and a breeding ground for new ideas,” he said. “I’m looking for a reason to go back.”

Raff is now focusing on new projects, including a top-secret TV show (sorry – he wouldn't tell us!). He's also working on two films – “Turn of Mind,” a did-she-do-it thriller about a retired surgeon suffering from dementia who becomes a suspect in the murder of her friend, and “Operation Brothers,” about a rescue operation in Ethiopia. “Tim invited me to direct a few episodes of “Heroes Reborn,’” noted Raff about the popular NBC reboot.

https://youtu.be/2TGMwHCJIMo

Kring is equally busy, making the supernatural horror series “The Wilding” for the USA network, about people experiencing the same mysterious haunting, and writing “Mars,” a big epic miniseries about the first people to explore the Red Planet. “I’m fascinated by the idea of the kind of people who would take that kind of leap and possibly not come back,” Kring said. As a creator and a viewer, he’s more interested in telling stories in the limited series format than dragging a story out over several years.

“I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to be committed to something for that long. I’m restless and want to go on to the next. I like the idea of doing 10 or 12 episodes and making it an event. And with so many things to watch, it’s a way of generating enthusiasm without forcing people to invest years of their life in something they may get tired of,” he explained.

He and Raff reflected on working their way up the Hollywood ladder. Raff worked in the tech industry in Israel, studied film, moved to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute, and got a job assisting director Doug Liman on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith” starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

“I started with the lowest job and that’s the only way to rise in this industry. I don’t believe in waiting for a muse or inspiration. You have to just sit down and write, treat it like a job, even if you’re staring at a blank page. Once you do that, you’ll be creating projects for yourself, and with luck, you’ll be in the game,” he said.

Claire Danes HomelandClaire Danes stars in "Homeland," a show that was the brainchild of Gideon Raff. (Photo: David Bloomer/Showtime)

Raff admitted that the fear of never working again causes him to take on too much. Working on multiple projects at once drives him to make daily lists, but not long-term plans. “I’m more spontaneous than that,” he said.

Kring originally intended to be a cinematographer, and following graduation from USC film school, “started working on production, pulling cables, setting up lights, and worked my way up to camera operator on music videos.” But when he saw friends selling scripts and prospering, he decided to try it, and he eventually landed a writing gig on the classic 1980s series “Knight Rider.” The first show he created was “Crossing Jordan,” his 47th job as a writer. "'Heroes Reborn' is my 51st job, which shows you how much dues you have to pay.”

Raff and Kring were among the Hollywood executives who participated in the recent Israel Conference in Los Angeles, where Raff is now based. Raff goes back to Israel often and isn’t surprised it has become a hot source for TV content. “Everything coming out of Israel is either in the process of being adapted or being looked at,” he said.

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