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Monday, January 02, 2012

Israel: "Hollywood's hottest spawning ground"

From the LA Times:

When the season finale of the Showtime thriller "Homeland" ran last month, it didn't just cap Claire Danes' triumphant return to series television — it marked the latest milestone for a small country that lately has become an improbable player in Hollywood.

"Homeland," which broke Showtime's ratings record for a first-year series finale, is adapted from the Israeli show "Hatufim" (Prisoners of War). It's one of a host of U.S. programs that began life as a Hebrew-language series in this Mediterranean nation of only 8 million people. "Who's Still Standing?," the new NBC quiz program in which contestants answering incorrectly are dropped through a hole in the floor, is also an Israeli import. So is the former HBO scripted series "In Treatment," which starred Gabriel Byrne and ran for three seasons.

And that's just the beginning: Nearly half a dozen shows in development at U.S. networks — including the divorce sitcom "Life Isn't Everything" (CBS), a time-travel musical dubbed "Danny Hollywood (the CW) and the border-town murder-mystery "Pillars of Smoke" (NBC) — are based on hit Israeli series, their themes and language tweaked for American audiences.

Unbeknown to most viewers, a small group of creators and industry types has built a pipeline between Israel and the Los Angeles entertainment world 9,000 miles away. Although many American Jews have a political relationship with Israel, the entertainment pipeline is a new development born of the maturation of the Israeli television industry — and has turned a nation known for politics into Hollywood's hottest spawning ground.

..."When you don't have a lot of money, you find more interesting and clever ways to write a script," said Daniel Lappin, the creator of "Life Isn't Everything," a sitcom about a divorced couple that can't get out of each other's lives that ran for nine seasons in Israel. Lappin — who like Raff and Stollman, also spent some of his formative years in the U.S. — is working with "Friends" writer Mike Sikowitz on the CBS version of "Life."

American executives, who for years looked to more established territories for imports, say they've felt a certain kinship with Middle East creators.

"God bless those Israelis," said NBC entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt, whose network has "Still Standing" and "Pillars of Smoke." "They've somehow done a great job of finding things that translate well."
Wow. "Zionists" really do control Hollywood!

At the rate things are going, BDSers might have to throw out their TVs.

(h/t David H)