InTV: 'Rising Star' Dominates Day 1; NBC's Bob Greenblatt Stresses Being Provocative

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Bob Greenblatt

A keynote session at the Keshet conference focused on the Peacock entertainment head's past at Showtime while interactive media was also a prominent concept.

Leading Israeli broadcast network Keshet kicked off its second annual InTV (Innovation in Television) conference Monday morning in Jerusalem, with much buzzed about TV singing competition Rising Star the talk of the event's opening day. The innovative format is set to be Keshet's biggest ever commercial COO globally.

The "application based television" concept, as Keshet's vice president of programming Ran Telem refers to it, is a fresh take on a singing competition reality show, which gained momentum following its successful local launch in September and soon after went on to garner even greater international appeal during the last MIPCOM, prompting multiple acquisitions from markets like Germany, France and Russia.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Telem pointed out that terms like "second screen" or "fifth judge" when referring to the audience voting mechanism of such a show no longer relate to their format and that the new concept of real-time judging from the viewers at home is the show's true game-changer.

And it appears the intriguing format has not gone unnoticed by already established reality TV shows. Conference-goers couldn't help but notice last week's first live show of the U.S. version of The X Factor, in which a social media interactive big screen featuring Twitter voting throughout the show was introduced as the fifth judge. The new addition seems quite similar to Rising Star's screen, which is in the heart of that show's concept: hopefuls sing in front of a screen, which displays real-time voting from in-studio judges and home viewers. Israeli media was quick to spot the added feature, which they already knew from Rising Star and watercooler chat around InTV has focused on the resemblance.

Furthermore, word around Jerusalem is that The X Factor creators have already been courting Keshet since MIPCOM, wanting to get on board the Rising Star train, acknowledging the "it" format, well on its way to the states. Sources at Keshet had no comment on the matter, but hinted that big news regarding major acquisitions is imminent.

The first day of InTV also featured two keynote guests, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and the UK's Channel 4 Entertainment head Justin Gorman. The two took to the stage in separate one-on-one sessions with the heads of Keshet but kept the conversation very tame. Greenblatt's morning event, where he was coupled with Keshet CEO Avi Nir was merely a light and not representative overview of his past achievements, including Six Feet Under and Californication, as well as the recent success NBC has had with freshman series The Blacklist.

Nir also referenced Episodes, the Showtime-BBC joint production series starring Matt LeBlanc, which deals with a foreign show adapted to the US, as a way to segway into Israel's dominance in recent years with HBO's In Treatment and Showtime's Homeland both being based on Israeli series. "Looking around the world for more ideas is a natural thing," said Greenblatt during the panel, "The key is finding the right idea".

Speaking on the subject of provocative programming during his tenure at Showtime, he added, "Provocation is the name of the game right now, and Showtime was a licence to push the envelope. If you're not provocative you're going to be passed over."

The first day of InTV also featured panels predicting the new age of narcissistic TV and all around media consumption, labeling each individual as the new god of television, a light hearted panel of Keshet's leading series creators sharing their artistic inspirations and a session with Hulu's head of content acquisition, Alex Kruglov, about matching viewers with their preferred product.

The itinerary also included speeches by Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat and Israel's Minister of Communication, Gilad Erdan, who emphasized the importance of Israel's overseas exports in recent years.