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Israeli TV Formats’ Big U.S. Breakthrough

By | Monday January 16, 2012 @ 5:16pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

It was a big weekend for Israeli TV formats. First on Friday, a drama based on the Israeli series Pillars Of Smoke became 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, Homeland converted 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 … Read More »

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UPDATE: NBC Picks Up Drama Pilots ‘Frontier’, ‘Midnights Sun’ & ‘Do No Harm’

By | Friday January 13, 2012 @ 4:32pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: After the 2 pilot orders to Universal TV-produced pilots Midnight Sun and Do No Harm, NBC just gave the green light to the Sony TV-produced period Western The Frontier, from writer Shaun Cassidy and Prospect Park. Thomas Schlamme is attached to direct and executive produce the pilot, which chronicles the journey of a group of disparate travelers from Missouri to the West Coast in 1840. As they struggle to survive, these strangers will be forced to band together and form a family, while they boldly press forward into the great unknown that is the Frontier. The Frontier is one of 3 Western drama scripts commissioned by NBC this season. I hear the network is happy with all 3 and might pick up more than one.

PREVIOUS: NBC has picked up 2 drama pilots from sister studio Universal TV: Midnight Sun aka Pillars Of Smoke and Do No Harm. Both hail from Peter Traugott’s new Universal TV-based production company, which he launched last summer after a 15-year stint at Brillstein Entertainment.

Midnight Sun, based on the Israeli series Timrot Ashan, aka Pillars of Smoke, is a thriller following the mysterious disappearance of a group living on a commune in Alaska. The Alaska setting is appropriate given that the original series is being described as described as Twin Peaks meets Northern Exposure meets Lost. Midnight Sun centers on a female … Read More »

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