What Buyers Want: Keshet 12’s Ilanit St Hirsch, head of programmes & acquisitions

With a flurry of markets, conferences & co-production-focused events taking place this month, Mark Layton speaks to key buyers about the shows they want and the models being used to pay for them

Ilanit St Hirsch, head of programmes & acquisitions, Keshet 12

What’s on your commissioning wishlist at the moment?
That’s a good question, because as we speak, I’m on my way to The Traitors set, which will be shot in Hungary. It wasn’t one of the usual suspects, when we discuss new formats, but considering what it did for the BBC, and globally, is just one example of shows that we’re really keen to have.

Another one, which is unusual and which we’re just in production on, is The Amazing Race. After covid, the world just opened up again; a small village in which we can make as our playground. So just two examples for our last purchases – and newcomers.

We will go for primetime family viewing shows, usually, but not only, of course. We have local dramas – we don’t purchase scripts, we write them. Our audience is keen for big, local stories and our dramas are focused on that.

We have current affairs on our schedule, factual entertainment, that we either develop on our own or purchase – and we develop quite a lot. I think that what is common to our schedule, is that it is family skewed. I think it’s warm hearted, in a way, very Israeli.

We call ourselves Israel’s television; we want to reach into each and every segment of our audience. So we need to be wide, we need to be sometimes bold, we need to be distinguished, but we need to be primetime in the very fundamental sense of the word.

What about your financing models? Are you open to co-productions?
Yes, in dramas we are looking for co-productions. Bear in mind that, for us, the language is a barrier, so with a project such as entertainment formats, it’s even more difficult to go for co-production. But we are open for co-productions in dramas, especially.

Are you looking to acquire any particular content at the moment?
If we would have talked two months ago, I would say The Traitors! There are several relationship shows that we are now discussing. Adventure reality shows are something that we are intrigued by, though we have The Amazing Race and it answers this one, but I think those are two subject matters that we’re interested in.

But we’re not looking for finished tape. In our primetime, when I’m talking about entertainment and reality, they are locally adapted formats.

What are your key current or upcoming shows?
A Body That Works (above). It is an unusual subject to deal with on primetime drama. But here in Israel, having difficulties with getting pregnant is something that is really discussed. As a subject matter, it’s not something that you usually say, ‘wow, let’s make a drama out of it’, but we took it under consideration and understood that it’s something that we should work on.

Also, Line In The Sand (below) has a second season. It’s a well known story that we made a drama out of and it worked very well. It’s about cops that changed sides.

Then you have a new drama that hasn’t aired yet but is making a lot of buzz. The English title is Trust No One, and it’s about the youngest head of the Israeli MCX and his story.

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