Fremantle has taken full ownership of Abot Hameiri, the Israeli production company behind international drama hit “Shtisel” and original formats “Power Couple” and “Hear Me, Love Me, See Me.”
Abot Hameiri is also the Israeli producer for global formats such as “Got Talent,” “Survivor” and “The X Factor.” The latter will return on Reshet 13 this summer with Simon Cowell as a judge – the first time “The X Factor’s” creator has served as a judge in a country outside of the U.S. and the U.K.
Fremantle is upping the 51% stake that it acquired in Abot Hameiri in 2016 to buy 100% of the Tel Aviv- based company, which was founded in 2006 and is headed by Eitan Abot and Guy Hameiri.
“It’s been a terrific five years together,” Hameiri told Variety. “Acquiring 100% is proof of Fremantle’s belief in the company, and that the company is far from reaching its potential. Now it is going to be easier to reach its potential – to dare more, to take more risk on every front with one strong owner.”
He said working with a global firm like Fremantle had helped Abot Hameiri to take its home-grown formats and scripted shows to the international market.
“Power Couple,” for example, is now produced in 14 markets and “Hear Me, Love Me, See Me” has chalked up format deals in 12 markets to date. In 2020, Abot Hameiri launched its latest reality dating format, “Find Me Somebody To Love,” which premiered on Reshet 13 and was recommissioned for a second season.
Abot Hameiri is also a growing scripted producer. Season three of “Shtisel” recently launched internationally on Netflix, while “The Attaché” recently premiered on streaming platforms including Starzplay in Europe and Acorn TV in the U.S.
Other scripted projects in development include “Bibi,” a high-end TV series on the life of the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu written by “John Adams” screenwriter Kirk Ellis, as well as “Prisoner X,” a drama series based on the true story of Mossad recruit Ben Zygier. Hameiri said “very strong international talents” are attached to its scripted slate, without revealing details.
CBS Studios is behind a U.S. remake of “Shtisel”, which is being directed Kenneth Lonergan, best known for his Oscar-winning drama “Manchester By the Sea.”
Looking ahead Hameiri has big international ambitions with Fremantle’s backing, said Hameiri, who also stressed that the local Israeli market remains “super important” to the company. Hameiri is responsible for the producer’s international business, while Eitan Abot is in charge of activity in Israel.
Hameiri has kept busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing the third season of “Shtisel” as well as “Power Couple” and “Survivor.”
Israel has led the world in terms of vaccinations, with over 60% of adults having received one dose and over 50% having getting two jabs. “Life in the last few weeks has really got back to normal, which proves the vaccine does work,” said Hameiri.
As a result, the company is now gearing up to shoot “The X Factor” in front of a full studio audience in July.
“The potential of the IP, of the stories and of the talent which the team at Abot Hameiri bring together is huge,” said Andrea Scrosati, chief operating officer at Fremantle.
“I have no doubt,” he added,”that the incredible success the company has enjoyed in Israel and internationally will continue to grow globally, thanks to the continued support and interaction with our teams in global entertainment, global scripted and distribution.”
The acquisition of Abot Hameiri forms part of Fremantle’s wider strategy to invest in production companies around the world to source creative ideas, partner with new talent and increase capabilities in local markets.
The deal will see Abot Hameiri sit alongside other Fremantle labels such Danish scripted label Miso, Dutch label Fiction Valley, Italian producers Wildside and The Apartment, and French label Kwai, amongst others.
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