In touting film industry, Nathan Deal gives Israelis an idea

If a gleaming replica office tower or a faux beach soon show up in Jerusalem, Gov. Nathan Deal can take credit.

The governor met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Old City to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties between Georgia and Israel.

First, they traded humble-brags over their economic credentials. Deal spoke of Georgia's growth as a bioscience hub after landing the Baxter pharmaceutical plant. Barkat, a businessman seen as a reformer, talked of positioning Jerusalem as a high-tech hub.

But what really caught the mayor's attention was Deal's mention of Georgia as a growing filming center. Once seen as a transient industry, Deal said an element of "permanency" is taking root with the news of Pinewood Studios sprawling Fayette County site and Tyler Perry's plans to redevelop Fort McPherson.

Why, even the Oprah-produced film "Selma," about the civil rights struggle in neighboring Alabama, chose to use the Georgia statehouse as a backdrop, the governor said.

You could almost see the wheels in Barkat's head start turning.

"I can only imagine when they start filming Tel Aviv scenes in Jerusalem," he said.