Local twists on foreign hits
The American creators of 'Survivor' would hardly recognize its Israeli incarnation.
It is possible that even Mark Burnett, the creator of "Survivor," would not be able to identify his product in its Hebrew version: two three-hour episodes a week, and updated rules that allow people pushed out by the tribal council to return to the show. In the current television era, international formats are for the most part bought (unlike in the days when Keshet featured "The Ambassador" - a copy of "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump - and then tried to sell it abroad), and then broadcasters tend to exploit the rights to the purchased product to the very last drop.
This is not the first format to undergo conversion and be adapted to the Israeli audience, but it is also being diluted a little in order to increase the quantity. Even after an agreement had already been signed between "Kochav Nolad" (A star is born) and the creators of "American Idol," in Israel scenes were added where they visit the contestants' homes, and air pre-prime time shows and all-night broadcasts of all the auditions.
In "The Kitchen" - the local version of Gordon Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen," which is to air soon on Keshet - the chefs are housed in dormitories and placed in front of the cameras in order to add material to the reality show.
The same is true of game-show formats. The show competing - not too successfully - with "Survivor" on Reshet's Channel Two is "1 Vs. 100." It, too, is a format purchased abroad. In its first season in the U.S., 13 half-hour episodes were aired, never more than once a week. In Israel, last year's first season consisted of 30 weekly episodes, each one hour long. There were, of course, weeks when it aired twice a week. There were moments when it seemed that Reshet would pull it out of its hat every time it had to compete with Channel Ten.
These are no longer programs that are part of a broadcast schedule, but entire channels that are dedicated to the programs: when they aren't airing "Nolad Lirkod" (Born to Dance), "1 Vs. 100" and of course, "Survivor," they are advertising them with promos.
"Due to this great exposure, and the burnout, we need to do some creative thinking about the rules of the game, and also to create unique programs," says Lisa Shiloah, the head producer of "1 Vs. 100" and a partner in July August Productions. The creativity is meant to compensate for the fact that the budgets in Israel are lower than in some of the major countries that have the format.
"Naturally, we succeed in doing a lot from a little," Shiloah says. "In most contracts for the formats, it states that changes will be made only with the advanced approval of the formats company, and also that every change will become theirs."
The foreign formats companies are not complaining. "On the contrary," says Shiloah, "Endemol, which sold us the format, told us that we are the most innovative country in interpreting the formats."
The idea for jokers in her game show where one out of 100 people holds a sum of money that is 10 times as much as all the others was immediately adopted by the foreign formats company. The same thing happened with the special programs with one man against 100 women, one woman against 100 men, children against one singer. They were aired here first, and only afterward in the United States."
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