Another Israeli TV Format Crosses the Atlantic

'Connected’ (Mehubarim) is the latest local production to be adapted for U.S. audiences, following 'Homeland,’ 'In Treatment’ and 'Traffic Light.’

Ehud Romano

The format from “Mehubarim,” a reality show on Israel’s Hot cable television company featuring five young, dysfunctional protagonists, is being purchased by AOL, the United States Internet company said on Tuesday.

The U.S. production will be overseen by Israel’s Koda Communications and the series will be called “Connected.” It will be available at no charge and through a range of devices, including smartphone, Samsung’s smart TV and Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console. The show will be produced in conjunction with AOL’s development center in Israel, which has a staff of about 80.

The series, which involves the five protagonists making video clips about their daily lives, was created in Israel by Ram Landes and Doron Tzabari. Ami Tir, who directed the most recent season of the series, will be responsible for the content of the American version.

An industry source said the sale of the format to AOL should generate combined revenues of just several hundred thousand dollars a year for Hot and Koda, but that the major importance of the deal is not financial but the fact that it buttresses Israel’s role as a major creator of innovative new television programming.

Several Israeli television formats have been adopted for shows in the U.S., including “Hahatufim” (“Kidnapped”) on which the popular “Homeland” series is based, as well as “In Treatment,” which is based on the Israeli series “Betipul” (“In Treatment”). An American version of the Israeli series “Ramzor” also aired for a short time in the U.S. on the Fox network as “Traffic Light.”

In addition, the format for “Mehubarim” has been sold for production in 22 countries through Tel Aviv-based Armoza Formats. About 300 hours of the various versions of the show have aired around the world.

The American version of “Mehubarim” will follow five people leading separate lives in New York. Twenty episodes of the U.S. version are planned, each of which will run 22 to 30 minutes. As in the Israeli series, the show’s protagonists will film segments from their lives.

The Israeli show first aired on Hot about five years ago, initially focusing on the lives of women and therefore took the feminine Hebrew form “Mehubarot.” The most recent season, called “Mehubarim+,” attracted higher ratings than any of the prior seasons. Koda is currently in production for Hot of a sixth Israeli season.