Israeli broadcaster sets up London base, eyes U.K. pacts

LONDON

Looking to capitalize on its momentum at home and abroad, Israeli broadcaster Keshet is expanding the scope of its operation with the opening of a London office for its Keshet Intl. distribution arm.

Keshet is on a roll with the success of Showtime’s “Homeland,” adapted from the Keshet drama “Prisoner of War.” The company has a slew of format sales percolating in the U.S. and other major territories. Keshet’s growth during the past few years is a prime example of the increasingly global nature of TV production and distribution, particularly as the major U.S. networks embrace programs and formats from beyond their borders.

Establishing an outpost in London will make it easier for Keshet to make further inroads in the U.K., Europe and other key markets for format sales and acquisitions. Stateside, the company is repped by WME.

Keshet Intl. managing director Alon Shtruzman has tapped former BSkyB and La Plante Prods. exec Sara Johnson as exec producer and head of scripted co-productions. Johnson is charged with rolling out Keshet’s drama in the U.K., building partnerships, co-productions and development, as well as developing relations with local broadcasters and the indie sector, Keshet said.

Also working from London is development producer Lee Mason, a former Shed Media exec and Channel 4 drama editor for teen soap “Hollyoaks.”

Further appointments are expected to be announced soon.

Keshet’s recent U.S. network deals have included the sale of spy drama “The Gordin Cell” to NBC, where it will be adapted by “Friday Night Lights” showrunner Pete Berg as “M.I.C.E.”; comedy series “Your Family or Mine?” to ABC, which has set showrunner Greg Malins — whose credits include “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” — to reboot as “Tribes”; and comedy “Mother’s Day” to CBS, which has attached Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky (both co-exec producers on “Smash”) to write the new version.

Keshet’s factual entertainment programs, such as “Dear Neighbors, Help Our Daughter Find Love” and “Fair & Square” and musical talent show “Master Class,” have sold to multiple territories.

(Leo Barraclough and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.)

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