Keshet Forms Documentary Arm, Launches Inaugural Project ‘Kabbalah’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Keshet Studios, the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of global media group Keshet International, is jumping into the documentary business.

The company has announced a new premium U.S. documentary arm and tapped Rob Lee, president of non-fiction programming, to spearhead. Its inaugural outing, produced with Canada’s Associated Producers Ltd., will be the 10-hour epic event series “Kabbalah,” about the ancient Jewish mystical tradition of exploring and studying the Bible. Feature film producer Robert Lantos has signed on to the project, which is in the final stages of pre-production. No air date has been announced.

Keshet International, the global production and distribution arm of Israeli media powerhouse Keshet, is known for such programs as “Homeland” predecessor “Prisoners of War,” family drama “The A Word,” spy drama “False Flag,” and reality dating format “Girlfri3nds.” It has an established track record in documentaries and current affairs; in Israel, Keshet’s “Uvda” is the nation’s most respected current affairs show. Keshet International’s slate includes “Sabena Hijacking – My Version,” a docu-drama about the notorious hijacking and nail-biting rescue of an Israeli passenger jet in 1972, and workplace docu-dramas “Residents” and “Blue,” which follow doctors and police, respectively, on the job.

“Keshet has been bold and courageous in its scripted programming, and the marketplace is growing, especially in this premium documentary space,” Lee said. “So it seemed to be almost inevitable that we would ramp it up.”

“Kabbalah” will take viewers through 10 different moments in history where major players were adherents of the ancient mystical practice, including some of the U.S. Founding Fathers during the American Revolution and Michelangelo during his painting of the Sistine Chapel.

“Each story is self-contained, but the canvas itself is so rich,” says Simcha Jacobovici, president of Associated Producers. “These are the stories of secret societies and mysticism throughout the ages. It’s also the story of those individuals who were called ‘heretics’ by some and ‘heroes’ by many. It’s real life ‘Da Vinci Code.’”

Jacobovici has some experience with Kabbalah: For years, he has been part of a Kabbalah study group that meets in Lantos’ Toronto home. Together with a rabbi, the pair has pored over ancient texts and explored the esoteric teachings that supposedly identify man’s relationship to God and define the status of the universe. Jacobovici said that his and Lantos’ knowledge had helped them carry out the project.

But the series is not aimed at exhaustively explaining all of Kabbalah’s intricacies to viewers.

“We can provide insight and turn people on to areas they don’t know about it,” Jacobovici said. “But we’ll let other people achieve enlightenment. What we want is to achieve entertainment.”

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