×

Avi Nir, Keshet CEO, Promises to Keep Pushing Envelope

'Crystal ball' intuition at work

Keshet CEO Avi Nir says his formula for selecting content is simple — he greenlights the shows that he personally would watch and skips those that he wouldn’t.

Consider Keshet’s dominance in the Israeli market and its ability, year after year, to produce the buzziest and biggest programs, and it becomes clear why many Israelis feel Nir’s intuition functions as a sort of crystal ball.

This summer, daily newspaper Haaretz included Nir in its list of the nation’s 100 most influential people, deeming him Israeli culture’s chief influencer.

“He long ago achieved quasi-mythical status,” Haaretz wrote. “Nir is regarded as the person who is able to predict what the viewing audience wants, satisfy their tastes precisely, and, time after time, create shows that will keep them glued to the screen.”

He has been at the helm of Keshet for 11 years and was the primary force behind its expansion abroad and its shift from a local broadcaster to an international production company. Those who work alongside Nir say he is a perfectionist and a multitasker, a workaholic with a stake in every single project that bears the Keshet name. He calls it an occupational hazard.

“The earth is moving so fast in our business that we just can’t take a nap,” Nir says during an interview at Keshet’s Tel Aviv HQ. “We just can’t take a rest. … This is not just a matter of my temperament or a neurosis or whatever you want to call it. It is the nature of this business.”

Nir’s star is rising in Hollywood, but it hasn’t changed him; he continues to dress down for work, as is the custom in Israel, and keeps his meetings refreshingly free of pretense and name-dropping. He can be self-effacing, too, admitting that he took a five-day vacation this summer only to spend his time on a Greek island consuming an entire book a day.

He is voracious, and he is beloved by the Israeli public for having the guts to bring their hometown dramas to the international stage. But his ascent has not been trouble-free. Critics have accused Keshet, as Haaretz once wrote, “of infantilizing” the audience.

Nir says the secret to managing Keshet is to keep it running like a startup, no matter how big or influential it becomes.

“I hope we will keep the mentality of a small organization, the mentality of being constantly on the edge, of pushing it,” he says. “And we will develop Keshet but keep it lean and mean. We want to be across the universe in a few major territories, but we don’t look at the big organizations of the world and say to ourselves that we want to be like them.”

More TV

  • Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth WarrenNinth 2020

    MSNBC Democratic Debate Moderators Lost Control of a Messy Night (Column)

    After what seems like countless Democratic debates, February 19th’s had a giant curveball in Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor whose enormous fortune has given him a late, but undeniable, leg up in the race. So it was unsurprising that the prospect of Bloomberg making a play for the nomination at the 11th [...]

  • Combs Making the Band

    Diddy Sons Quincy Brown, Christian and Justin Combs Will Judge 'Making The Band'

    The panel of judges for the MTV reboot of “Making The Band” was revealed on Wednesday. Diddy’s sons Quincy Brown, Christian and Justin Combs along with creative director and celebrity choreographer LaurieAnn Gibson are all set to join the franchise. Diddy’s children all have careers spanning music, entertainment and fashion. “Making The Band” is based [...]

  • Lesley VisserFooty's Bubbles & Bones Gala,

    Lesley Visser to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at 41st Sports Emmys

    Veteran sportscaster Lesley Visser will be honored with the lifetime achievement award at this year’s 41st annual Sports Emmys. It reps the first time a woman has received the accolade. “To be a pioneer at nearly every juncture of sports reporting isn’t easy despite how Lesley Visser makes it look, said Justine Gubar, executive director, [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on

    TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on to Produce Eponymous Peacock Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, Peacock’s limited series “Angelyne” got the titular woman as an executive producer, and Netflix announced premiere dates for “Ugly Delicious” and “Unorthodox.” DATES Netflix announced the premiere dates of new and returning shows coming this March: “Ugly Delicious” Season 2 is premiering March 6; “Marc Maron: End Times Fun” will launch March [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Nevada Democratic Debate Online

    The ninth Democratic presidential debate will take place Wednesday as six hopeful candidates take the stage ahead of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 22. NBC and MSNBC will broadcast the debate on their networks from 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. PT/ 10 p.m. ET. Those wanting to tune in can also [...]

  • James Wolk

    James Wolk to Star in NBC Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe'

    James Wolk has been cast in the lead role of the NBC drama pilot “Ordinary Joe,” Variety has learned. The project explores the three parallel lives of Joe Kimbrough (Wolk) after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content