Keshet International sets up in UK

Keshet International, the distribution arm of Keshet Media Group and distributor behind multi-award winning Homeland, has opened a UK office as it continues to expand its global footprint.

The London office has been opened due to Keshet’s significant growth in the international formats market and recent US success.

Keshet International MD Alon Shtruzman has made his first UK hires as the distributor takes its expertise from distributing premium content, to also creating it. Former Sky and La Plante Productions executive Sara Johnson joins as Executive Producer and Head of Coproductions, Scripted effective immediately.

Johnson is charged with rolling out Keshet’s quality drama in the UK, building partnerships, coproductions and development as well as developing relations with local broadcasters and the indie sector. Keshet has also hired former Shed Media exec and current Channel 4 Drama Editor Lee Mason as Development Producer. Mason will continue his duties at C4 whilst also working alongside Johnson to help boost UK scripted commissions.

Keshet has experienced significant growth in the global formats market in recent years.  Israel, with Keshet in the lead was the number one seller of scripted formats to the USA last year. The most notable of these adaptations is Showtime’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning spy drama Homeland which is based on Keshet’s Hatufim (Prisoners of War).

Other recent US sales include MICE, a US spy drama that will be based on the drama series Gordin Cell, distributed by KI to NBC, written and directed by acclaimed writer, producer and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights); Tribe to be adapted by ABC and based on scripted comedy Your Family or Mine with Greg Malins (Will & Grace, Friends, How I Met Your Mother) to write the pilot and Mothers Day, a scripted comedy which was sold to CBS Network with Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky as writers (Sex and the City).

MD Alon Shtruzman said: “In light of the growing success of our formats worldwide, it’s only natural for Keshet to take a bigger position on its own shows. We are now building teams in London and Los Angeles in order to drive our productions in the UK and the US, independently or with partners.”

Johnson added: ”I’m thrilled to be joining such a creative company at this pivotal point in its growth and I’m looking forward to talking to the UK’s drama community about the exciting slate of shows we want to bring here.”

Johnson was most recently Head of Development at La Plante Productions for five years where she oversaw drama projects including Above Suspicion and was also Head of Drama at Sky for 4 years where credits included Hex and HogFather She has also served as a freelance consultant at NBC, as a development producer at Sony International TV and as a script editor and storyliner at the BBC on Eastenders.

Mason’s previous roles include Head of Development at Shed Media Group. He has also worked at Endemol -owned indies Initial and Tiger Aspect where he worked on Paradise Café and Teachers respectively in development and script editing roles. Further appointments are expected to be announced in due course.

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