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DEAL OF THE WEEK: Homeland Effect: Israel TV Formats Are Red Hot: With showtime’s terrorism drama Homeland, based on the Israel series Hatufim, picking up a series win at the Golden Globes and two WGA nods, interest in the country’s TV formats has never been hotter. Keshet, the Israeli TV producer whose chief executive Avi Nir appeared onstage at the Globes with U.S. showrunners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, has sold another high-profile project to a U.S. network. This one, a dating reality format titled 3, will roll out this summer on CBS. From there, Nir and his WME agent Rick Rosen will shop at least two more formats: a spy thriller and a scripted comedy about a married couple dealing with crazy parents.
Hollywood’s Israeli love affair began about five years ago when HBO adapted In Treatment, a drama about a therapist and his patients. Next came CBS’ relationship dramedy The Ex List, followed by Fox’s buddy comedy Traffic Light, two Keshet formats that came and went. But it was Homeland that catapulted interest in Israeli formats — often edgier and lower-budget — to the next level. “These days, when I mention to any network president, from [CBS’] Nina Tassler to [Showtime’s] David Nevins, that Avi Nir is coming to town, they all want to hear what he’s pitching next,” says Rosen. Adds Nir of his most recent six-day trip, which consisted of back-to-back meetings and the Globes: “I’d say it was a worthwhile 15-hour flight.”
That interest is spilling into TV’s pilot season. NBC and The CW, respectively, have scooped up Israeli adaptations Midnight Sun, a female-lead FBI thriller, and Joey Dakota, a time-travel musical.
Keshet’s 3, which Tassler bought after meeting with Nir when she led a trip of female executives to Israel in November, has been described as The Bachelor meets The X Factor: Three women of different ages and life experiences audition hundreds of men to find a soul mate. The finale of the Israeli version, which launched in summer 2011, was the highest-rated, non-live reality program since the country’s ratings system was created in 1999.
Joining Nir as exec producers on the U.S. iteration are Magical Elves founders Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth and 1492 Television’s Chris Columbus. Says Nir of the show’s raw emotions, more often seen in documentaries: “We did a more traditional dating show 10 years ago. We didn’t want to do that again.” – Lacey Rose
Player Hotel Sold to Hollywood Players
two bunch palms resort & spa, the Desert Hot Springs property that had a cameo in Robert Altman‘s 1992 film The Player, has been sold to Hollywood buyers. Along with real estate investor Gidi Cohen, the 270-acre property was acquired by producers Steve Markoff and Donald Kushner and entrepreneur Elie Samaha — the trio who bought Grauman’s Chinese in May. The group acquired Two Bunch on Feb. 17 from several banks that had foreclosed on it. Sources say the buyers paid less than $10 million for the property, which is said to have been built in the 1920s by Al Capone. Two Bunch, with 52 bungalows, is famed for the restorative powers of its natural mineral waters. Planned upgrades include enhanced spa facilities. “We want to bring it to the days when you saw it in The Player,” says Cohen. The buyers were repped by Andrew Kirsh of Raines Feldman. — Daniel Miller
German Star to Direct in English
German actor Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds, This Means War) will make his English-language debut as a director with The Guardians, an adaptation of a $10 million German action movie called Schutzengel that he is now shooting in Berlin. In the picture, which Schweiger also co-wrote and stars in alongside his daughter, Luna Schweiger, he plays an ex-special forces soldier assigned to protect an orphan until she can testify against a weapons dealer. In Germany, Schweiger is an established director and a big box-office draw, but he has stuck to romantic comedy — his last one, Kokowaah, grossed $43 million. “This is my most ambitious film,” Schweiger tells THR. He wraps Schutzengel in April, then starts shooting Guardians early next year. Warner Bros., which is co-producing the German film, is said to be circling distribution rights to the remake. — Scott Roxborough
Oprah Winfrey (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham) is in talks to co-star in The Butler, Precious director Lee Daniels’ planned biopic of Eugene Allen, a black man who worked as a butler in the White House, serving eight presidents from 1952 to 1986. Winfrey would play Allen’s wife.
Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman (CAA, Principato-Young, Jackoway Tyerman) will direct a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie at Paramount. Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing the live-action project with Scott Mednick and Galen Walker.
Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot (CAA, Felker Toczek) will helm RED 2, a sequel to the 2010 action comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, for Summit Entertainment.
Comic book artist-turned-director Kaare Andrews (APA, Aperture, Canada’s Pacific Artists Management) will direct Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, a sequel to the 2002 horror thriller being made by Indomina Group and Hypotenuse Pictures.
Green Lantern co-writer Marc Guggenheim (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) is negotiating to write the big-screen adventures of Perry Mason, set up at Warner Bros. as a starring vehicle for Robert Downey Jr., who will produce with wife and partner Susan Downey, along with Robert Cort.
Community actress Gillian Jacobs (UTA, Principal, Lichter Grossman) has joined Burt Wonderstone, New Line’s magician comedy starring Steve Carell and Jim Carrey.
Shark Tale director Rob Letterman (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) will write and direct the live-action found-footage movie The Paranormalists for SyFy Films. Imagine Entertainment is producing.
Adopt Films acquired U.S. rights to three films at the Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Bear winner Caesar Must Die, about a staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in a Rome prison, from the directing brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani; Barbara, a Cold War story from director Christian Petzold; and Ursula Meier’s coming-of-age tale Sister.
Screen rights to Black Bull Media’s comic book The New West have been optioned by Benderspink and Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has preemptively picked up the domestic rights to Chilean director Sebastian Silva‘s untitled thriller that will star Michael Cera, Juno Temple and Emily Browning.
Real Steel‘s Kevin Durand (WME, Alchemy, Lichter Grossman) and Lukas Haas (Innovative, Rick Yorn, Ziffren Brittenham) will star in Dark Was the Night, a thriller from Caliber Media, Sundial Pictures and Preferred Content. Caliber Media principal Jack Heller is directing.
Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired U.S. rights to Sundance title 28 Hotel Rooms, written and directed by Matt Ross (Big Love).
IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Predisposed, a Sundance comedy that stars Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo and Tracy Morgan in a story about a piano prodigy.
Roadside Attractions has acquired U.S. and Latin American rights to 30 Beats from writer-director Alexis Lloyd and starring Paz de la Huerta, Justin Kirk and Lee Pace.
Without a Trace‘s Anthony LaPaglia (CAA, Industry, Edelstein Laird) will star in ABC’s drama pilot Americana, which revolves around legendary fashion designer Robert Soulter and his family business. Natalie Mendoza (RGM Artist Group, Authentic) also has joined the cast.
NBC has ordered 13 episodes of Hannibal, based on the Silence of the Lambs prequel book by Thomas Harris. Pushing Daisies’ Bryan Fuller will develop and serve as showrunner.
Matthew Perry (CAA, Doug Chapin, Surpin Mayersohn) has joined CBS’ The Good Wife in a recurring role as an attorney with possibly shady motives.
Allison Janney (WME, Thruline, Nelson Davis) will guest star in an episode of Showtime’s The Big C, playing a Hollywood producer.
Eureka star Colin Ferguson (Oscars Abrams Zimel, Jackoway Tyerman) will topline Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence’s comedy pilot Like Father for Fox.
Smallville‘s Kristin Kreuk (Gersh, Pacific Artists) will star as Christine in The CW’s modern-day love story version of Beauty and the?Beast.
Rescue Me fireman Steven Pasquale (ICM, Brookside) will front NBC’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde medical drama pilot Do No Harm as a brilliant neurosurgeon.
The Daily Show‘s John Hodgman (UTA, Mosaic, Jackoway Tyerman) will guest star on NBC’s Community.
Midnight in Paris‘ Mimi Kennedy (Justice & Ponder, Wagner Talent, Behr & Abramson) has been tapped to play Judy Greer’s mother-in-law in the ABC comedy pilot American Judy.
Twilight‘s Toni Trucks (Greene & Associates, Rugolo) has joined CBS’ legal drama pilot Baby Big Shot, playing a friend and secretary to the working-class woman at the center of the series.
Better Off Ted helmer Michael Fresco (ICM) will reunite with Portia de Rossi and direct the pilot for her ABC comedy The Smart One.
Mercy and Prime Suspect producer Liz Heldens (WME, Hansen Jacobson) will write and produce a pilot for Notorious, a soap about a wealthy female detective, for NBC.
Sharon Osbourne (WME) will guest star as herself on NBC’s Up All Night.
TBS has ordered 35 more episodes of comedy Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. … Discovery Channel has renewed Friday hit Gold Rush for a third season. … Oxygen has greenlighted two pilots: Teen Weddings and Thrift Wars. … TruTV has added Hardcore Pawn spinoff Hardcore Pawn: Fort Bragg. … Travel Channel has ordered to series Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America and Toy Hunters, which follows collectibles dealer Jordan Hembrough as he searches for valuable
pop artifacts, and renewed Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover for a second season.
Tropfest, the Australia-based short film festival, is celebrating its 20th anniversary by expanding to Las Vegas, which will host a weekend-long event at the Cosmopolitan resort beginning June 1.
London’s Twickenham Film Studios, where such movies as Alfie and A Hard Day’s Night in the 1960s and the recent My Week With Marilyn were filmed, is set to close in July after being sold off to property developers.
Independent film producer and distributor Central Partnership has become the first Russian company to begin selling its films on iTunes, with the first batch consisting of 20 titles.
Rupert Murdoch’s News International division, which closed the News of the World in July in the wake of the company’s phone-hacking scandal, will launch a Sunday edition of the Sun newspaper on Feb. 26.
Gillian Anderson, the star of The X-Files who toplines the Berlin festival thriller Shadow Dancer, has signed with Anonymous Content.
Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones, has signed with UTA.
Child actor Michael Rainey Jr., who starred in the Sundance film LUV, has signed with ICM.
Chloe Bridges, who starred opposite the Jonas Brothers in the Disney Channel’s Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, has signed with APA.
Sherri Shepherd, co-host of ABC’s The View, has signed with Darris Hatch Management and Production.
NEXT BIG THING: Stella Maeve
- Reps: Abrams Artists, Principato-Young, Ginsburg Daniels
- Why She Matters: After a turn in 2010’s The Runaways and a two-episode arc on Grey’s Anatomy this season, the 22-year-old landed a key role as Ryan Phillippe’s rebellious sister in CBS’ cop pilot from Greg Berlanti and Nicholas Wootton.
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