Disconnected Cops / A War on Drugs, or a War on TV?

Tel Aviv police held screenwriter Ran Sarig for questioning following complaint by advocacy groups that he smoked marijuana on TV while driving.

Tel Aviv police yesterday held screenwriter Ran Sarig for questioning following a complaint by advocacy groups that he had been shown on television smoking marijuana before and during driving.

In addition to screenwriting for the hit sitcom "Ramzor" (Traffic Light ), Sarig stars in "Mehubarim" (Connected ), a reality series that follows five young, dysfunctional male protagonists - including this writer - as each records his daily life with an ever-present video camera.

Sarig is shown several times in the series lighting up behind the wheel, leading a handful of anti-narcotics and traffic safety groups to lodge complaints to the police and Health Ministry over his behavior.

Yesterday Tel Aviv police arrived at Sarig's office at the Keshet Channel 2 franchisee, and brought the screenwriter to the Salameh Street station.

During questioning, he said he suffers from arthritis and has a doctor's prescription for cannabis. At press time it was unclear whether Sarig would be charged.

Tel Aviv police protected the public from a dangerous man, a criminal, though apparently not the most sophisticated yet to hit the Israeli underworld.

What kind of crook would film himself committing a crime, then make sure that the evidence was aired in prime time?

But Sarig isn't the only fool in this story. There's another: Maj. Gen. Shahar Ayalon, the police officer who ordered his men to wait for the screenwriter outside his workplace. Calling him in for questioning by phone was apparently out of the question.

The police are right on all counts. Sarig is a traffic offender, a dangerous scofflaw. But here's an update for Maj. Gen Ayalon: Ran Sarig is also an actor in a television show - he plays a character called Ran Sarig.

What's more, it's clear the criminal proceedings begun yesterday against my co-star are little more than a public relations stunt for a headline-hunting police force. So too is it already clear that driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited under Israeli law, and probably not something to be recommended anyway.

But even more to the point, yesterday's events show that the poster boy the police chose to begin its war on weed was the wrong one. Why? For the simple reason that the moment you cross the line between television and life, between drama and fact and between reality television and reality you stop being a cop and start being a TV critic.

And if there's one thing the Israel Police don't understand, it's good television.