An Israeli production company is launching the first-ever reality TV format inspired by the #MeToo movement.
The Silence Breaker is billed as an investigative factual entertainment format that will expose real-life sexual harassment at the workplace. Using hidden cameras, the show will go undercover to document harassment while also telling the victims’ stories. Each story will end with an on-camera confrontation with the harasser.
Gil Formats, one of Israel’s leading producers of nonscripted TV, will introduce the format to international networks and production companies at the MIPTV market in Cannes next month. The company said it is in “advanced negotiations” with an unnamed Israeli broadcaster for a local version of the show.
The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements became global phenomena in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The entertainment industry around the world, including in Israel, has been rocked by similar allegations of workplace harassment and abuse.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Assaf Gil, CEO of Gil Formats and creator of The Silence Breaker, said he hoped his show would raise public awareness of the issue of workplace harassment and “inspire others to come forward and speak up.”
There has been extensive news coverage on the #MeToo movement and numerous TV documentaries, including E!’s Citizen Rose, featuring prominent #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, and Channel 4’s Working With Weinstein documentary, which looked at further alleged instances of brutal behavior by the producer. The BBC has also announced it has commissioned a feature-length documentary about the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
But Gil says his show can add to the public debate. “The big difference in what we are doing to what has been around on the news is that, for one, most of these incidents happened a long time ago, while we are basically shooting in real time. And a lot of the (#MeToo) stories in the news have had to do with famous people,” he says. “(But) we feel sexual harassment is a much more widespread phenomenon…. All the women we talked to in the research for this show had some sort of history of some sort of harassment.”
The concept for The Silence Breaker includes an on-air host, who, Gil says, “should ideally be a woman with a strong background as a journalist.”
While inspired by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, The Silence Breaker is not directly connected to either, and Gil says the show will focus “on the crimes, not the movement.”