EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Network has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of comedic drama 68 Whiskey, an adaptation of Israeli TV series Charlie Golf One, from Imagine Television Studios, the TV arm of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, and CBS TV Studios.
Written by The Brink co-creator Roberto Benabib, the adaptation, the vein of M*A*S*H, follows a multicultural mix of men and women deployed as Army medics to a forward operating base in Afghanistan nicknamed “The Orphanage.” Together, they endure a dangerous and Kafkaesque world that leads to self-destructive appetites, outrageous behavior, intense camaraderie and occasionally, a profound sense of purpose.
Grazer will serve as an executive producer alongside Howard, Benabib, Imagine TV Group Chairman Francie Calfo and Imagine TV President Samie Kim Falvey. Zion Rubin, the creator of the Israeli television series Charlie Golf One, will also executive produce, along with Efrat Shmaya Dror (United Studios of Israel) and Danna Stern (yes Studios).
68 Whiskey will join Paramount Network’s two existing scripted series, hit Yellowstone, which was 2018’s most-watched new cable series and ranked second across all of cable TV series (5.1 million total viewers per episode) and the upcoming Darren Star series, Emily in Paris starring Lily Collins, which will premiere in 2020.
“We’re thrilled to work with Imagine Entertainment on 68 Whiskey and have the powerhouse team of Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Roberto Benabib, who have an extraordinary track record in compelling and provocative storytelling, adapt it for an American audience,” said Keith Cox, President, Development and Production, Paramount Network and TV Land. “I’m a huge fan of the Israeli series from which this series is based, and the unique mixture of drama and comedy infused throughout, and know 68 Whiskey will be a great complement to Yellowstone and Emily in Paris on Paramount Network’s growing slate of scripted originals as we seek to create TV as exciting as movies.”
68 Whiskey marks the first series order since Kent Alterman took oversight of Paramount Network as President of Comedy Central, Paramount Network & TV Land Group last October. The project was originally picked up as a pilot last summer, with the order now upgraded to straight-to-series.
“We are very pleased to be working with Kent, Keith and everyone at Paramount Network to bring 68 Whiskey to air. Roberto’s unique comedic vision for this high-stakes, emotional and timely show promises audiences something fresh and exciting,” said Howard.
Added Benabib, “I’m excited to have the opportunity to produce a series that echoes the dark irreverent films of the ‘70s and speaks to the dark irreverent insanity of the world today.”
68 Whiskey stems from the co-financing first-look deal between Imagine Television Studios and CBS. It gives CBS TV Studios, a division of CBS Corp., a series at a Viacom network amid increasing speculation that the two companies would merge.
“As CBS Television Studios continues to expand its reach far beyond the broadcast construct, we are excited to have our first original series at Paramount Network and look forward to working with Keith and the team,” said David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios. “68 Whiskey is an exciting drama based on a highly successful international format, and we are proud to partner with Imagine and Paramount to bring it to American viewers.”
Charlie Golf One is produced by United Studios of Israel and yes TV, the production company behind the Netflix hit format, Fauda. It was the yes platform’s most successful original program of 2016. A second season is currently in production.
Benabib shared in a comedy series Emmy nomination for Weeds, on which he served as writer/executive producer. He co-created, wrote and executive produced The Brink, with his brother Kim Benabib, and was a writer and executive producer on Showtime’s Jim Carrey series Kidding.