U.S. studio buys popular Israeli drama 'Yellow Peppers'
The drama series follows a family of farmers on a remote moshav in the Arava Desert as it copes with the diagnosis of its 5-year-old son with autism.
Channel 2's Keshet franchisee has sold the "Yellow Peppers" television series to the U.S. studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation.
Lions Gate, whose productions include the popular series "Mad Men," is working on a pilot together with Brenda Hampton, who created, wrote and produced "7th Heaven," "Fat Actress" and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," as well as Keren Margalit, the creator of the original "Yellow Peppers" series in Israel.
The deal was brokered by Hollywood agent Rick Rosen, who represents Keshet in the United States. Rosen was also behind the sale of the Israeli thriller "Hatufim" to Showtime, which adapted it as "Homeland."
The first episode of "Yellow Peppers" ("Pilpelim Tsehubim" ), written by Margalit, aired on Channel 2 in December 2010. The drama series follows a family of farmers on a remote moshav in the Arava Desert as it copes with the diagnosis of its 5-year-old son with autism. The series was awarded five prizes at the recent Israeli Academy of Film and Television awards ceremony, including best drama series, best screenplay (Margalit ) and best directing (Margalit and Amnon Kotler ). Alma Zack and Yossi Marshak were named best female and best male actors, respectively.
Margalit is currently writing the screenplays for the second season of the series, which is being produced by July-August Productions.
"Yellow Peppers" earned high viewer ratings from the start; the first episode had the highest viewership of any first episode of a drama series aired in Israel in 2010, and each episode drew 650,000 viewers.
The series now joins a long list of Israeli television productions that have been sold to U.S. studios and channels in the past several years. The unscripted reality format "Shalosh" ("3" ) was acquired by CBS in February, and is scheduled for a summer release. NBC has picked up the HOT cable company drama "Pillars of Smoke" ("Timrot Ashan" ); while "Who's Still Standing?," the American adaptation of the Israeli game show "La'uf al Hamiliyon," is already airing on the same network.
"Homeland" is the jewel in the crown of Israeli formats that have been adapted by foreign broadcasters, winning the Golden Globe award for best drama series. Last weekend it was announced as a winner of the prestigious 71st annual George Foster Peabody Award, awarded by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The series premiered on Showtime on October 2, and has broken the channel's rating records.
"We are happy that Lions Gate saw in 'Yellow Peppers' what the viewers in Israel saw in it, and what the members of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television saw in its first season," Ram Telem, Keshet's vice president of programming, said on Monday.