It was a big weekend for Israeli TV formats. First on Friday, a drama based on the Israeli series Pillars Of Smokebecame the first in-cycle drama pilot picked up by NBC. And then on Sunday another Israeli drama adaptation, Showtime’s Homeland,became the the biggest TV winner at the Golden Globe Awards with two statuettes, for best drama series and best actress Claire Danes. That caps several years of a building momentum for formats from the Middle East country with strong ties to the U.S. and deep connections in Hollywood.
Exactly 3 years ago, the first of the current wave of U.S. adaptations of Israeli series, HBO’s In Treatment, landed 5 Golden Globe nominations, including best drama series, and won one, for best actor Gabriel Byrne. This year, Homelandconverted 2 of its 3 nominations. How significant is the show’s best drama series win? Israeli formats got to the coveted top award after a four-year presence in Hollywood and a handful of series, In Treatment, CBS’ The Ex List and Fox’s Traffic Light leading to Homeland. For comparison, U.S. adaptations of British series have a long-standing tradition, spanning dozens of series over four decades. And yet, I could only think of one American series based on an U.K. format that has landed a best series Golden Globe, the CBS classic All In The Family. (NBC’s The Office won for star Steve Carell in 2006 but never in the top series category.)
Israel’s opening to the U.S. TV market started several years ago when groups of local producers and representative came to Los Angeles to meet with leading Hollywood TV executives and agents. CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler, then Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Entertainment Division, was among those spearheading the initiative, which included master classes held both in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. Top U.S. TV agents began shopping Israeli formats to the U.S. networks. Last night, Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon began his acceptance speech by thanking “Rick Rosen at WME for bringing us this project.” Rosen is one of the leading agents handling Israeli formats, with CAA’s Adam Berkowitz also active in the arena.
As a result of the rising interest, the broadcast networks this season bought as many pitches based on Israeli formats as they did formats coming out of the U.K. In addition to Pillars Of Smoke, awaiting word on a pickup are comedy Life Isn’t Everything at CBS and drama Danny Hollywood at the CW. Additionally, one of the projects based on a British format, NBC comedy Friday Night Dinnershepherded by The Office chief Greg Daniels, revolves around a Jewish family and their regular Friday dinner experience. Because of the far smaller size of the Israeli TV market and thus series budgets that are a fraction of what U.S. shows have at their disposal, Israeli producers put stronger emphasis on storytelling and search for formats that would help them overcome the financial shortcomings, including setting up most of the action in one (In Treatment) or 2 rooms (dramaThe Naked Truth, an U.S. version of which was once set up at HBO with Clyde Phillips.)
Israel’s U.S. TV influence is not limited to scripted formats. NBC’s reality seriesWho’s Still Standing?, which aired as a strip last month, was based on a hit Israeli series, with other reality projects also in the works.
This year’s Holon International Women’s Festival will take place at Holon Theater from February 22 to February 25. The four-day event includes a wide range of artistic fields, with Cassandra Wilson as the main draw of the program. The 56- year-old, two-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist has delved into numerous musical areas over the last three decades, including jazz, blues, pop, country music and folk. She has released over 20 albums under her own name and recorded and performed with a wide range ofartists, including celebrated jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pop crooner Elvis Costello and R&B and soul singer Luther Vandross.
Other draws in the festival lineup include Don’t Stop Me Now, a tribute to rock groupQueen featuring such top female vocalists as Efrat Gosh, Yael Deckelbaum, Dana Berger and Dana Adini.
A new feature at this year’s festival is a documentary film slot called I Am You Are, with debut offerings form young female Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers.
There will also some acting endeavors, with a marathon of monologues by female graduates of some of the country’s top acting schools, under the guidance of Hadas Calderon. And fans of satirical humor should enjoy the The Secret Blondes performance by singer Tamar Giladi and writer Irit Linor.
For more info: (03) 502-3001 or www.hth.co.il
What do the names Avram Hershko, Ada Yonath and Daniel Shechtman tell you? They are all Israeli chemists who won the Nobel Prize after being awarded the Wolf Prize.
Will physicist Jacob Bekenstein, one of the winners of the 2012 Wolf Prize go on to win the prestigious Nobel as well? Time will tell.
The Wolf Prize is an international award granted in Israel every year for achievements in the fields of science and art, and is considered the second most important award after the Nobel Prize.
The prize has been granted since 1978 for “achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples … irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex or political views.”
As many as 33% of Wolf Prize recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize as well.
The list of winners for 2012 was announced Monday in a festive ceremony at the Israel Museum by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and the chairman of the Wolf Foundation.
Apart from Bekenstein, the award will be granted in May at the Knesset to Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo, Berlin Philharmonic Conductor Simon Rattle, and two Mathematicians, two chemists, and a medical researcher – all from the United States.
The Wolf Foundation said Tuesday that Domingo was the first vocal artist to ever win its prize. From 1962 to 1965, at the beginning of his career, he sang with the Israeli opera company
Prof. Bekenstein of Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics will receive the prize for his breakthrough contribution to foundation of black hole thermodynamics. He discovered that black holes cannot just swallow light but also emit light.
At the time Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest physicist, set out to prove Bekenstein wrong, but after exhausting calculations for several months he nobly admitted, “I was wrong, Israeli physicist Jacob Bekenstein was right.”
Since then, one of the physical laws regarding black holes has been named the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy.
Bekenstein told Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday, “I’m surprised, happy and proud. I didn’t expect to receive the award now, as there are many people in the world of science who have made great contributions.”
Wolf Foundation Director-General Liat Ben-David said Monday, “The Wolf Foundation heritage proves that each of the recipients dedicated his or her life to one thing: Excellence aimed at advancing humanity.
“Through this prize, the State of Israel salutes the crème de la crème in the fields of science and art around the world.”
Amir Asor of Rehovot receives YBI Entrepreneur of the Year award. ‘I did this to make money, hope to realize myself in a broader sense,’ he says
LONDON -Major achievement for Israeli entrepreneur Amir Asor (26) from Rehovot. Last Thursday Asor won the title of Youth Business International (YBI) Entrepreneur of the Year award in London. The president of the YBI is none other than Britain’s Prince Charles.
The business, which Asor set up in 2007 and now employs 25 people, teaches schoolchildren complex principles through the simple application of Lego models – and so far this year more than 2500 children via 130 educational centers across Israel have received the tuition.
Asor established the business with the help of a subsidized loan he received from the Keren Shemesh Fund of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation after he was rejected by various banks.
The kit’s distribution began in 2008 with 100 children. Today, at least 2,200 students at 130 education centers in Israel take part in classes that make use of the kits supplied by Asor’s company which is called: The Asor Group – Young Entrepreneurs.
The business intends to expand its product distribution and sell them to additional countries within the next few months.
Asor who was born and raised in Dimona, the youngest of three children, beat entrepreneurs from 40 different countries and won a grant of $5,000 for his business.
The jury declared him the winner after interviewing the three finalists who included Asor, an Indian entrepreneur with a samosas and frozen snacks business and two Canadian partners with a Mexican food business.
The awards ceremony was attended by many major names in British and global business.
Lead judge Rich Ricci, co-CEO of Barclays Capital, said: “We selected Amir Asor because his business is innovative, unique and perhaps, most importantly, has the potential to expand greatly in the coming years.”
Guy Nattiv’s film picks up Audience, Artistic Achievement awards in international competition of the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival
THESSALONIKI –Israeli film “Mabul” (“The Flood”), directed by Guy Nattiv, won two prizes at the international competition of the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
“Mabul” picked up the Audience Award, accompanied by a prize of €3,000, as well as the Artistic Achievement Award given to actors Ronit Elkabetz, Michael Moshonov and Yoav Rotma
The judges noted that “the intensity, passion and unified acting of the film’s ensemble make the original story unique and the film genuine, relevant and profoundly moving.”
Russian film “Twilight Portrait”, directed by Angelina Nikonova, won the top “Golden Alexander” award. The film tells the story of a young Russian woman raped by three policemen and sharply criticizes the Russian society and its police corruption.
Her film is a shocking drama about relationship between the victim and the offender. The heroine, who was abused, chooses a pretty non-standard way of avenging herself by falling in love with her insulter.
The Best Director Award went to Mark Jackson of the US for his film “Without”, which follows a 19-year-old girl working as the temporary caretaker of a paralyzed elderly man living in an isolated home.
The Special Jury Award (“Silver Alexander”) was given to Czech film “Eighty Letters”, directed by Václav Kadrnka. The movie, which takes place in communist Czechoslovakia in 1987, follows the bureaucratic journey of a mother and son seeking to immigrate to Britain, where the boy’s father lives.
This year’s jury included Laurence Kardish, senior Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Greek director Constantine Giannaris, and American producer Hisami Kuroiwa.
Three other Israeli films took part in the festival this year: In the Open Horizons section – Michal Aviad’s “Invisible”, in the Experimental Forum – 18-year-old Dror Heller’s “Foundation of Mind” and Zohar Elefant’s “Sivan”.
Cleantech Group presents its annual list of top 100 companies in clean technology
This is the third year the Cleantech Group, an industry market intelligence company which provides Fortune 1000 global corporations, among others, with industry analysis about cleantech innovation, has presented the Global Cleantech 100, a list of the top 100 private companies in clean technology.
This year Israel has been well represented by eight companies, four of which are based in Israel and four which were founded by Israelis but with operations in the United States.
The awards were split into three regions (North America, Europe and Israel, and Asia Pacific), with 16 countries providing entrants.
Out of three regions Israel was represented in the top 10 in both North America, with BrightSource Energy, a developer of solar thermal power systems, winning the Continued Excellence award for being the highest ranked company on the list for the past three years, and in the Europe and Israel region with TaKaDu which was awarded with the highest rating in the region.