EXCLUSIVE: Last month, I reported that Entertainment One Television had picked up the format rights to Israeli drama Reaching For Heaven from Tal Shaked and Einat Shamier’s local outfit A-Cappella. EOne has now partnered with Sundance Channel to co-develop the series based on the format that was originally created by Norma Productions’ Assaf Amir. The U.S. version of the show about what happens to a marriage and family when one parent suddenly becomes religious, will be written by Mike Seid, who will transfer the story to Las Vegas. The original Reaching For Heaven was based on Ora Morag’s novel One Hundred New Apples. It followed a secular Israeli family whose patriarch turns to ultra-Orthodox Judaism. All members of the family do their best to preserve unity, but none are willing to join the father on his new journey to a religious life. The series ran locally for two seasons on Keshet.
EOne EVP of global productions Carrie Stein tells me that Seid, a modern orthodox Jew living in LA, pitched the transfer to Vegas and eOne was hooked. “His position was that it doesn’t really matter if you’re exploring” any religion, “it’s the premise of somebody breaking the marriage and family contract.”
Reaching For Heaven is in contention for an early 2014 straight-to-series greenlight from Sundance for what Stein estimates would be a 10-episode original run (the Israeli series had 14 total).
Nena Rodrigue, SVP of programming and production at Sundance Channel, says “Reaching For Heaven introduces the provocative topic of religion within a family dynamic in a way we have never seen before. We are very excited to continue our relationship with eOne and collaborate with them on this distinctive project.”