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‘Shark Tank’ Success Story ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Sells TV, Movie Rights

Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios has done a good deed — he’s secured the film and TV rights to toy maker Neal Hoffman’s “The Mensch on a Bench” property.

The plan is to create a holiday special centered around Hoffman’s plush figurine named Moshe, a good person (or “mensch”) who tells the story of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah through adventures that celebrate the season in a fresh, funny way.

“We’re always looking for great storytelling and for stories that aren’t commonly told,” said Piligian, who is Pilgrim’s exec producer and CEO. “We found both in ‘Mensch on a Bench,’ and we’re excited to launch what we believe will become an enduring holiday tradition.”

Hoffman created his plush figure in response to the tinge of holiday “envy” that Jewish kids (including his own) often feel during Christmas. He took the concept to the ABC show “Shark Tank” in 2014, where he struck a deal with investors Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner. Since then, Hoffman has secured deals with Target, Michael’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

“When my five-year-old asked if he could get an Elf on the Shelf, I joked, ‘We’re Jewish – you can have a Mensch on a Bench!’ That’s how the idea was born,” he said. “It feels great to create new ways for Jewish families to celebrate and participate in the holiday spirit, and I’m thrilled to be working with Pilgrim to make the ‘Mensch on a Bench’ an even bigger part of the season for everybody.”

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