Israeli giving US television the treatment

May 23, 2011 - 1:45 PM by

The cast of the American version of 'Ramzor' - called 'Traffic Light.' They look too well adusted to be Israeli.

With some Israeli artists and performers winning awards in Cannes and others fleeing for their lives in Turkey, Israeli arts abroad are having their ups and downs

However, there seems to be one realm in which we are evidently increasingly accepted and held in high stature – American TV

According to a report in the business newspaper Globes, US studios have bought ten Israeli series in the past two years as they search for fresh content.

Ever since actress/producer Noa Tishby brokered a deal a few years ago to sell Haggai Levy’s show ‘B’Tipul’ to HBO which adapted it as ‘In Treatment,’ the floodgates have opened up.

Since then, US studios have bought ten Israeli shows, including “Kidnapped (whose American version is now being shot in Israel), “Naor’s Friends”, “The Mythological X”, and “Ramzor” (whose US version, “Traffic Light” was recently canceled after disappointing ratings, which its Israeli producer Adir Miller attributed, in an interview with Globes, to changes made to the US version).

Two weeks ago, the Financial Times reported on the buzz surrounding the quality of Israeli content, implying that American content was poor compared with the flood of refreshing drama on Israeli TV. The paper said that Israel was becoming a content powerhouse – and cheap.

That buzz has evidently reached some powerful ears. According to the Globes report, Israeli producer Tzafrir Kochanovsky has hooked up with Steven Spielberg to develop a big-budget science fiction series for Dreamworks. “It is a mix of the “X Files” and “The Da Vinci Code”,” Kochanovsky told “Globes”.

And Spielberg is evidently also working with Phil Rosenthal (the producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Israeli producers on a drama series that will take place at Jerusalem’s Shaarei Zedek Medical Center, where Rosenthal is involved in fundraising efforts. TNT has bought the series and filming will begin on site next year.

Hollywood’s interest in all things Israel has prompted one producer, Oded Turgeman to launch Operating Room a content company that functions as a “shortcut to Hollywood.” Globes reported that Turgeman, a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem said that there are backers for developing Israeli content and projects for Hollywood.

So, the next time you go channel surfing in the US, keep an eye out for the credits. You’re likely to see someone Israeli.


3 Comments on Israeli giving US television the treatment

  1. Alan on Tue, May 24th 2011 12:52 AM
  2. An interesting read, David. Thanks for sharing it, and double thumbs up to the creative genius of Israel’s finest.

  3. Allison on Tue, May 24th 2011 4:17 PM
  4. The problem with the U.S. ‘Traffic Light’ was that the characters WERE too well-adjusted. That made them not funny.

  5. spring on Mon, Jun 13th 2011 7:41 AM
  6. Rmazor is one of the funniest series, in the same league with Seinfeld, 30Rock, Curb your enthusiasm..
    The American version is totally different and not half as good. No wonder the American version didn’t succeed.
    That’s a pity, whoever adapted the show got a hillarious, fantastic, funny show and turned into something totally different. The charcters which are one of the funniest parts of the show were changed, their professions, their economical situation, everything.
    In Israel it is a HUGE success, and I heard it’s a big success in Russia as well (there they kept it just like the original Israeli version).

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