‘We Con The World’ creators produce pilot for Channel 1

Latma, website satirizing Israeli media coverage, may get weekly television show.

By JOSHUA HAMERMAN
April 4, 2011 04:14
3 minute read.
We Con The World

We Con The World. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The team that produced the popular viral video “We Con The World” will be jumping from computer screens to television screens.

Latma, which produces weekly satirical takes on Israel’s media coverage and current events, signed a contract with Channel 1 to film a pilot for a weekly show. Latma’s “Tribal Update” series, which is posted on a YouTube channel and runs for between eight and 12 minutes, will serve as the basis for the pilot, said Caroline Glick, The Jerusalem Post’s senior contributing editor and Latma editor-in-chief.

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The pilot will run for roughly 30 minutes, and include new material.

“We’re very excited because this will provide an opportunity for new talent to penetrate onto the national scene,” said Glick. “Over the past several years it seems like the people who get into the mainstream are the children of stars and people who are well-connected.

Our product is going to be introducing Israeli TV audiences to a lot of new faces.”

Latma will film the 100th episode of “Tribal Update” later this month. The show features original musical arrangements and parodies during a fake newscast, similar to Channel 2’s flagship show “Eretz Nehederet.”

Actors Elchanan Even- Chen, Ronit Avrahamof Shapira and Noam Jacobson will star.



The pilot, which is still in the early stages, will be submitted to the network by the end of May and include five or six actors. Channel 1 is providing some funding, with the remainder coming from the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based conservative think tank which funds most of Latma’s operations.

Many consider “Tribal Update” a right-leaning version of “Eretz Nehederet,” said Glick.

“We didn’t start the ‘Tribal Update’ as a Zionist response to ‘Eretz Nehederet,’ which I consider post-Zionist,” she said.

“We think satire is a useful tool for media criticism, and that was the idea behind it.”

Latma films its programs in a bomb shelter in the industrial zone of Petach Tikvah, but the studio, which does not have many of the technical requirements for television programming, will undergo an upgrade before the pilot is filmed.

Latma leaped onto the global stage in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara siege in June 2010. Glick’s team filmed and distributed a video which depicted the Mavi Marmara passengers singing an original song, “We Con The World,” in a recording studio.

“We Con The World” was modeled after the blockbuster 1985 single “We Are The World,” which featured numerous American stars and raised money to alleviate famine in Africa. The satirical video went viral, achieving over three million views on YouTube in less than two weeks.

Latma already has an international following, thanks to YouTube and the English, Spanish and German subtitles that accompany its programs – but Eli Baba, head of the programming division at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, is counting on a mainstream domestic following for the television version of “Tribal Update.”

“You don’t see this approach in the Israeli media,” Baba said, referring to the use of music and other original content.

“This has big hit potential – they are talented, they are creative and [their program] is unique.”

Channel 1 editorial guidelines, which prohibit overt political messages, will not have a negative impact on Latma’s content, said Baba.

“We give them creative freedom to create their own materials, and we don’t let them say a political view, but they can do creative satire.”

Channel 1 will take a month to decide whether or not to green-light a weekly series after viewing the pilot.

In the event of a series, Baba hopes a lot of Israelis will tune in, but nevertheless, “Channel 1 is not going for ratings – the quality is much more important for us.”

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