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Keshet Int’l launches US studio

HOMELAND (Season 3)Israel’s Keshet International has become the latest overseas content group to launch an LA-based production studio.

Keshet Studios will oversee development, production, packaging, promotion and sales of Keshet’s scripted programming catalogue, which currently runs to more than 30 formats, in the US.

Veteran drama executive Peter Traugott has been hired as Keshet Studios’s president of scripted, with Rachel Kaplan brought in as executive VP. Both will report to KI CEO Alon Shtruzman.

Traugott joins from TBD Entertainment, his own production company. Kaplan also comes across from TBD.

Long-serving KI excutive Atar Dekel has been named head of business development for Keshet Studios, but will aso remain head of business development, US scripted and coproductions at KI.

While at TBD, Traugott managed to get eight pilots and two series away. Before that he was president of television at Brillstein Entertainment Partners (Samantha Who, Just Shoot Me) and director of programming at Fox Broadcasting.

Kaplan also worked at Brillstein, and was also head of scripted television at BermanBraun (now Whalerock Industries) and VP of development at Warner Bros. Television.

Keshet is following in the footsteps of Endemol Shine Group and Banijay by launching a scripted-focused studio in LA, albeit with a slightly different business model predicated on both original and existing formats. It also already has an unscripted joint venture business in the US, Keshet DCP, which is run with Dick Clark Productions and produced shows such as ABC’s Rising Star and Fox’s BOOM!.

To this point, its biggest American success has been the Showtime remake of spy drama Prisoners of War, Homeland, which has won numerous awards and sold internationally. More recent deals include selling DiG to USA Network, Tyrant to FX and Your Family or Mine to TBS.

Traugott and Kaplan will work to produce US TV fare in close collaboration with Shtruzman and Avi Nir, CEO of KI parent Keshet Media Group. They will look to create local remakes of existing formats and create new scripted programming for KI.

Keshet Studios already has “a number of new projects in various stages of development in its pipeline”, according to KI.

“Keshet Studios was a natural progression for our expanding business and we are thrilled to have an official home base in the States with executives who share our programming sensibility,” said Shtruzman.

“Peter and Rachel both have tremendous instincts for developing and producing compelling and innovative scripted television. Coupled with Avi’s creative vision and the prolific Israeli-International pipeline, Keshet Studios is set to significantly grow our US slate.”

KI also has a JV in Australia and a wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.