Exec producer to adapt Israeli drama for U.S.

As “24” potentially draws to a close, exec producer Howard Gordon has signed on to adapt Israeli drama “Prisoners of War” for U.S. auds.

Gordon is working with Alex Gansa (“24″) and Gideon Raff, who created the Israeli series, to rework the show through 20th Century Fox TV. The project has yet to be shopped to network buyers.

The original “Prisoners of War” centers on two Israeli soldiers who are released from captivity after 17 years, and forced to find a way to readjust to their sudden freedom. There’s also a thriller element told through flashbacks as the audience learn that the kidnapping and captivity period of the soldiers isn’t as clear cut as it appears.

Israeli network Keshet is behind the show in Israel; that broadcaster’s chairman, Avi Nir, will exec produce the U.S. version with Gordon, Gansa and Raff. Gordon is a top drama showrunner who has been sought after for development for years, but he’s kept his focus on steering “24,” until now.

“The show was specific to Israel because of their geopolitical and national reality, but there was a very strong overlap in many ways and resonance with our country, since we’re currently engaged in two military conflicts,” Gordon said.

For the U.S. adaptation, the show will center on two soldiers who were captured soon after the war on terror began in the wake of 9/11; they’re finally released a decade later from their captors. But a third POW died — and his demise becomes a mystery.

The show will also center on suspicions that one of the returning soldiers may have turned rogue — and could be a terrorist threat himself.

Beyond those mysteries, Gordon said he was attracted to the family drama that erupts as these soldiers — who were presumed dead — must adapt to a changed world, while their loved ones must cope with their reappearance.

Gordon said he’s also intrigued with the idea of playing with timelines, such as flashbacks and multiple days, after being confined to “24’s” real-time format over the past eight years.

“That’s liberating,” he said, noting that “24” debuted in the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in November 2001. “Ten years have past and the world has changed. This show has the benefit of time, looking at the same issues as ’24,’ in a different and more nuanced way,” Gordon said.

20th Century Fox TV chairman Dana Walden said she was immediately drawn to the format’s “creatively adventurous” tone.

“It’s a project that has universal appeal and should travel very well throughout the world,” she said.

“Prisoners of War” reps the second Keshet format set up at 20th; the studio is adapting the Keshet comedy “Traffic Light” for the Fox network.

Fox and 20th Century Fox TV haven’t yet confirmed the fate of “24,” although it’s still unlikely to return next year. The studio is considering interest from other outlets, however.

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