The new Homeland? Israeli Soviet spy drama to get US remake

By Jennifer Lipman, September 20, 2012
Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes in Homeland

Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes in Homeland

First it was prisoners of war, now it is former Soviet spies.

The Israeli network behind the series that inspired Homeland has sold the rights to another mystery series to a US television studio.

Universal Television is planning to develop an English-language version of The Gordin Cell, a series following former Russian intelligence agents coming to terms with their chequered history after starting a new life in Israel.

Ron Leshem's thriller follows the couple's son – a serving Air Force officer in a high-level position - after Russian spies attempt to recruit him as a double agent and looks at how the decisions of one generation affect the next.

The 12-episode series was first broadcast on Israel's Yes channel but is about to air on Channel 2 under the Keshet umbrella.

With its focus on Russian Israelis, The Gordin Cell looks at the questions about absorption and identity that are still being asked today, 20 years after the first waves of mass immigration from the former Soviet Union following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The US version, to be called M.I.C.E (Money, Ideology, Coercion and Ego) is set to be shown on NBC, will be written by Peter Berg, who wrote the pilot for the successful series Friday Night Lights.

"There are still real issues between the US and Russia - they're spying on us, we're spying on them," said Mr Berg, who will work on the remake with Mr Lesh e m. He said the storyline "lands itself very easily to an American reinvention".

He told Deadline: "I thought [ The Gordin Cell] was really smart, widely original, and it worked as a complex family drama and a very authentic, high-stakes espionage thriller."

"Keshet is pleased to add another pillar to its international activity in the field of Israeli drama," said Keshet chief executive Avi Nir. The music for the series has been composed by the renowned Russian-Israeli singer-songwriter Arkady Duchin, while veteran Russian-Israeli actors took part in the programme.

Homeland, the American version of Hatufim (Prisoners of War), the second series of which airs this month, is perhaps the most successful of Israel's crossover hits, although others in the work include Israeli autism drama Yellow Peppers and Pillars of Smoke, a series about a mystery at a secretive commune.

Last updated: 3:56pm, October 23 2012