Recognition of Israeli innovation has become mainstream enough that even the United Nations – where anti-Israel member states are usually described as having an automatic majority – lets the Jewish state take the lead on the issue. Jerusalem oversees thriving computer technology and biotech industries.
Next on the list for Israeli-style innovation: the television industry. Variety earlier this week described how “for several years, Israel has been at the forefront of countries exporting TV program content to the United States.” The Keshet Media Group – which seeks to produce what it calls “edgy mainstream” programs – has been at the center of those efforts:
“Israel is lacking natural resources. We don’t have any gas or oil, and we hardly have any land — it’s a small country,” says Shtruzman. “So what we sell is brains. The same way we sell technology, whether it’s software or hardware, we’re also selling media.”
What sets Keshet apart, say its execs across the world, is a desire to push content straight to the sharpest corner of the razor’s edge. Such was the case in “BeTipul,” reborn in the U.S. as HBO’s “In Treatment” and known as the first Israeli format to truly strike gold abroad; in groundbreaking “Homeland” ancestor “Prisoners of War,” which earned such accolades that it has now been released to international audiences with English subtitles; and even with popular gameshow fare like “Deal With It.”
Now in its twentieth year, Keshet started off broadcasting locally in Israel and expanded to international markets in 2007.
Keshet’s latest groundbreaking show is a talent show called Rising Star. In the mold of shows such as American Idol and The Voice, Rising Star seeks to showcase – and, as the show progresses, promote – aspiring singers. In contrast to other shows, however, the voting on Rising Star is interactive and realtime. The audience and the performer watch the reactions as they unfold.
[Photo: SHOWTIME / YouTube ]