Last Sunday Homeland debuted on Channel 4, attracting overnight ratings figures of more than 2 million and a clutch of impressive reviews. Much has been written about the latest US import, a labyrinthine terrorism drama from the writers of 24. But while you will have read all about Homeland’s awards haul and Claire Danes’ triumphant return to the small screen, that the show is based on an Israeli series called Hatufim (Prisoners of War) has been less well reported.
Now UK audiences will be able to judge for themselves just how good the Israeli original is when it comes to Sky Arts in May. The series will follow hot on the heels of another Israeli drama In Treatment (BeTipul), the original Hebrew version of the hit HBO series of the same name, which gets underway on Sky Arts on Monday.
Hatufim and BeTipul are Israeli TV’s big international success stories – but they’re far from the only Israeli shows finding an international audience either in their original form or as an English language remake. There are a slew of Israeli shows being adapted by major US networks including sitcoms such as Life Isn’t Everything, police procedurals in the form of HBO’s The Naked Truth and the much-touted NBC murder-mystery Pillars of Smoke, while in Britain, David Mitchell’s topical quiz show The Bubble was adapted from an Israeli idea.
It’s part of the unlikely rise of Israeli television; an industry that only got its first commercial channel in 1993. “Israeli dramas are very much driven by auteurs, by people who have their own unique story and own unique voice to tell it,” says Avi Nir chief executive of Keshet Broadcasting, the programme makers behind Hatufim. “They provide an antidote to American television, which is usually more commercial … It’s a different way of making a show. Hollywood is much more of an industry, but in Israel our shows are slowly, carefully and originally tailor made.”
The shoestring budgets that Israeli programme makers work with have also played their part in this surge of creativity. Hatufim for example, was shot for $200,000 an episode, a fraction of the budget its US counterpart. The result is that Israeli producers put a stronger emphasis on storytelling, while financial constraints have seen programme makers work in more creative ways. The effects can be seen in the stripped-back settings of shows such as In Treatment, which like police procedural The Naked Truth, stages almost all of its action in a solitary room.
While fuelling creativity, the lack of financial investment has also taken away an element of risk. Without massive financial outlay there is arguably more freedom for writers to experiment with what is conventionally expected from small screen dramas.
At its heart however, the boom in Israeli broadcasting comes down to the quality of the programmes that are being produced. Lucy Criddle, the Sky Arts acquisitions manager, says: “It wasn’t our intention that we were looking at Israeli drama, it was really that the quality of the drama stood out for us. We watched BeTipul and Hatufim and we just loved them. They’re both powerful pieces that are utterly compelling and most importantly they’re high quality TV.”
It has been difficult to miss the recent boom in Scandinavian drama on British screens – but it appears that Denmark may not have cornered the market in classy subtitled imports. BeTipul in particular will offer a strange viewing experience for fans of In Treatment. Unlike Hatufim, which was more of an inspiration for Homeland, the HBO drama is an almost like-for-like remake of the Israeli original. As a result it’s impossible to watch either show without comparing and contrasting it with the other.
With the rise of foreign language remakes and imports, watching a show twice is a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common – and at times original shows can end up overshadowed by a strange sense of deja vu when watched after their English language remakes. But what’s striking about these Israeli series is the quality of the storytelling which has translated seamlessly from original to adaptation. For viewers that means they are essential companion pieces – testament to the quality of programming that the country is currently producing.
Source: The Guardian
CBS has ordered production for Israeli TV reality-documentary series “Three” fromMagical Elves production & development company (Top Chef, Braxton Family Values), who has acquired the format from Israel Channel 2′s Keshet Broadcasting, where the original show aired last fall. The deal was reportedly made possible with the help of Rick Rosen, Head of Television Department at WME Entertainment.
The show, which garnered stellar ratings in Israel, was hosted by popular TV personality Assi Azar and followed three women in different stages in their lives, looking for love. The show started off with the ladies auditioning men for dates and eventually followed them around as they picked the one man they want to seriously go out with. The original show featured a young 20 something girl, a worldly model who returned to Israel in hopes of settling down and an army widow, mother of one, looking to start a new chapter.
Israeli media outlets report that the upcoming project by Keshet, who is behind last year’s Golden Globe winning adaptation of Showtime’s “Homeland”, is the sixth format the TV franchiser has sold in the US, this time in a joint bid with local production company Kastina. Keshet CEO Avi Nir has confirmed the news and issued a statement thanking the entire crew behind “Three” for taking part in its now international success.
“Three” ended in November but returned to the headlines just last month. Gilad Fridlanski, who appeared on the show as the guy dating one of the girls, has tragically committed suicide, with his close relatives saying he was not himself in his last weeks of living and showed alarming signs of depression. The sad news evoked speculations that his instant fame from the show caught up with him and that Fridlanski just couldn’t handle it at the aftermath of the show ending.
No comment on the future production has been made available thus far by CBS. In the meantime here is the original Israeli Hebrew trailer.
After the news of him being cast to guest star on the TNT cop drama ‘Southland’ due to some successful meetings and auditions back around Hanukkah, Oz Zehavi is packing up and going for a 2 month stay in Los Angeles for further meetings and several more auditions. He will stay in LA until the end of April, and will also spend Passover away from his family.
“It is a perfect window of opportunity for Oz,” a source close to the heartthrob told Israeli website Walla. “He doesn’t want to miss it, and these things are impossible to run as a telecommute.”
Also it was reported that while he’s staying in LA, Oz plans to sublet his Tel Aviv apartment, and we’re pretty sure there are a lot of female fans in Israel who are fighting over it.
Zehavi,29, an actor and model from Rishon Le’Zion, started as a television host on a teen show on Channel 2, and earned his fame in 2007 when he starred in the successful Israeli teen drama ‘The Island.’ Since then he took part in 4 Festigal shows, modeled for one of the strongest fashion brands in Israel, ‘Renuar,’ and starred in 2 successful adult dramas, ‘Asfur’ and ‘Haim Acherim’ (‘Another Life’). Zehavi was chosen in 2010 as the hottest Israeli celebrity by Pnai Plus magazine (the Israeli equivalent to ‘Entertainmnet Weekly’).
Television really is going to the dogs, thanks to an Israeli media company.
Canines in San Diego, California, will now have a chance to be entertained by TV images of happy dogs, people playing soccer and relaxing piano music while their owners are at work. All of this can be accessed through a television network intended solely for dogs that was launched on Monday. “We love our dogs so much that we feel guilty about leaving them alone at home,” said Gilad Neumann, CEO of DOGTV.
He said the content is backed up by research, which shows that the programs shown on the network relax dogs and stimulate their imagination, thus keeping them healthy and satisfied.
The network is operated by Jasmine TV, a subsidiary of Yossi Uzrad’s Israel-based Jasmine Group international holding corporation.
Unlike other channels, every frame and every sound on DOGTV has been calibrated for all dogs, said Nicholas Dodman, the network’s chief scientist and program director of the animal behavior department of clinical sciences at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Dodman said the network provides the visual and audio stimulation dogs need during the day, since dogs left home alone tend to be depressed. This is expressed in a loss of appetite or lack of interest in playing, especially when the house is empty.
The digital TV channel, which will run 24 hours a day, is currently being offered for free. It is broadcast by Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications.
In Britain, meanwhile, a dog food commercial is targeting the dogs rather than their owners for the first time, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
The commercial will feature sounds that are too high-pitched for the human ear to hear, and is expected to have man’s best friend barking at the screen whenever it airs.
Popular Israeli actor Oz Zehavi was in Los Angeles this past week filming a guest appearance for TNT’s cop drama “Southland”, starring Benjamin McKenzie (The OC) and Regina King (Jerry Maguire). The 28yo heart-throb has been one of the biggest names to stand out in Israel in recent years, having starred in his breakthrough TV role on “Asfur”, which has been sold to a US production company, and being chosen as 2010′s most promising talent by Pnai Plus entertainment magazine.
While no immediate details were made public regarding the Rishon Le’Zion born Zehavi’s character on “Southland”, it is known that he plays an American citizen. Zehavi’s representatives have confirmed to Israeli media outlets that his performance was indeed shot last week and his experience on set was heartwarming.
“Southland” premiered on NBC in spring 2009 as a mid-season replacement for “ER”, however despite being renewed for a second season, the peacock network has later opted to cancel the show. A month after, basic cable TV channel TNT has renewed the show, where it has been running ever since. Currently in its 4th season, “Southland” has garnered generally positive reviews from critics.
Zehavi’s star continues to shine in Israel as the second season of “Asfur” ended a few weeks ago, wrapping his fourth consecutive Festigal popular annual Hanukkah showcase, while also being the face of local fashion brand “Renuar” for their current collection.
Israeli fashion designer Tal Sheyn, who has dressed A-List celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Mandy Moore and even Ashton Kutcher, has announced a new collection, entitled ‘Alexis,’ inspired by her recent collaboration with celebrity housewife Alexis Bellino of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
The ‘Alexis by Tal Sheyn’ line has actually turned into a sub company, owned by both Tal and Alexis after such a positive response and successful reaction that they’ve recieved. The line will be featured on the new company website,Alexisbytalsheyn.com, and will be actually pushed and promoted on the show The Real Housewives of Orange County, which premiers Tuesday Feb 7th on Bravo.
Sheyn is very excited about her new project, but she never forgets to mention that while designing high-couture fashion, she always thinks about all body types. “My signature designs are created to make all women, regardless of body type, feel vibrant and beautiful while wearing my clothing,” she says in a personal letter to her friends. “Over the past year I have expanded from designing couture evening gowns to designing sophisticated yet casual wear appropriate for any occasion, which is very exciting.”