Keshet Studios Asher Landay and Heather Brewster Outline the Companys Production Pipeline Heading into 2022

Keshet International launched its U.S.-based production arm Keshet Studios (KS) in 2015 with the idea of building a small, independent-style studio that could develop and produce original content for the U.S. and global marketplaces by supporting diverse voices, stories and talent. Since then, the label has generated content for the biggest streamers and networks in the U.S. and abroad and has entered into a lucrative first-look partnership with Universal Television which was renewed in February of this year.

One of the founding fathers – despite only being in his mid-20s at the time – of that original KS venture was Asher Landay. Landay, director of scripted programming for KS, has since been involved in developing and producing the company’s scripted slate including standout projects such as Apple TV Plus’ “Echo 3,” HBO’s “Our Boys,” David E. Kelly’s “The Missing” at ABC and “La Brea,” a huge ratings success on NBC’s fall slate and recently picked up for a second season.

Heather Brewster joined the team 18 months ago as VP of scripted for KS, bringing with her a wealth of experience in developing content for YA audiences and working with emergent streaming platforms. Her current projects include “The Missing,” a U.S. adaptation of Australia’s “Secret Bridesmaids’ Business” titled “Ties That Bind,” and “Dark Horse,” based on Blackfella Films’ “Total Control.”

Landay and Brewster sat down with Variety to discuss the company’s upcoming pipeline, how they develop talent relationships that last and what the future looks like for Keshet Studios.

One of the keys to producing content in an industry that can’t seem to get enough of it is finding and developing talent. Asher, you’ve been with Keshet Studios since the beginning, can you talk a bit about how you attract and hold onto talent?

Landay: It’s all about relationships, whether it’s about working with people for the first time or those that we‘ve worked with in the past and continue to do so. David Applebaum is a great example. The original idea for “La Brea” came from David. We worked together on “Wisdom of the Crowd,” and when that finished, he came to us with the original idea for “La Brea” and I was hooked from the pitch. It had everything I wanted: Great characters, escapism, a cinematic viewing experience. So, then we put all our support behind the show and now, a couple weeks before the winter holiday we are already working on Season 2!

Heather, you’re one of those talents who was brought in from outside who has really thrived in the KS system. How did you benefit from the relationships you’ve found at KS and what did you bring with you when you joined?

Brewster: I think it starts with what we’ve been able to accomplish together. It’s lovely to be part of a team where everyone has different life experiences, points of views and perspectives. In my case, I think I bring a youthful energy from my time working in YA content and with emerging platforms. I’m familiar with audiences that Keshet wants to make content for. I can bring in new talent, new writers that maybe Peter [Traugott, president at KS] and Asher haven’t worked with before, but who are up-and-coming and ready to make the next step. It’s been amazing too, in that [since joining] we’ve had a sales rate of about 85-90% of the projects being picked up in the past 18 months.

What do you attribute that success to?

Brewster: Asher and I have been working on different types of projects and had our own successes before working together, but there is an alchemy happening when we work together that means the result is greater than the sum of its parts. We’re also very lucky in that we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.

Landay: We’re also very judicious about what we take on here. Heather and I like to bounce things off one another, use each other as a barometer to see if we think there is enough in an idea to pull the audience in. Then we roll up our sleeves and really dig in with our writers and work on their pitches so they’re at the point where we’re very confident in what we’re proposing. We share a real old school work ethic.

How does your team define ‘New IP’ at KS? Where do your originals come from?

Brewster: We talk about three pipelines at Keshet: Pipeline one is content originated for Keshet Broadcasting in Israel [Keshet 12]; pipeline two is third-party IP and IP from the Keshet International distribution catalog, we’ve got a really amazing distribution arm; and pipeline three is our originals which can come from any number of source materials – books, web series, articles… and we also often represent third party IP which comes to us from outside.

Landay: The sweet spot is taking an original idea and doing something fresh with it. In talking to all the streamers, they often air the original tape but they also want a U.S. version to stand alone. “Homeland” is the perfect example: both shows – “Prisoners Of War” being the original Israeli Keshet series – can live alongside each other.

How do you see the future of KS in the next couple years? Where would you like to take the company?

Landay: Well in 2022 we’ve got a lot of exciting things that will be announced soon. But we aren’t even 10 years old in the U.S., and I think we’re in our golden hour now. It was always our goal to become a mini-studio, to establish a footprint here in the U.S., and I think we are now hitting those landmarks. It’s just going to continue growing from there. We’re still developing IP and we want creators to come to us with new ideas.

Brewster: Writers and creators that want to break formats or work on something that already exists but make it unique to our territories, if they have singular, original ideas they think we can sell, they should bring them to us and we’ll put all our effort into it. Like Asher was saying, we’re judicious and old school in our work ethic.

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