ABC’s ‘The Baker and the Beauty’ Creators on Adapting Hit Israeli Romcom Series for the U.S.
Daniel Garcia (Victor Rasuk) works in the family bakery, doing everything his loving Cuban parents and siblings expect him to do. But after meeting the international fashion mogul Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelley) on a wild Miami night, his life is suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
“The Baker and the Beauty” is the story of an unlikely romance trying to survive when lives and cultures collide. Based on the hit Israeli series created by Assi Azar for Keshet Broadcasting, it’s written by Dean Georgaris and produced by Universal Television and ABC Studios in association with Keshet Studios. The series, which is taking part in this week’s MipTV Drama Buyers Summit, premieres April 13 on ABC.
Keshet Studios president Peter Traugott, who heads the U.S.-based production arm of Keshet International, said he recognized early on the crossover potential of the Israeli comedy series, which debuted in 2013.
“To do ‘Notting Hill’ as a TV show seemed like such an obvious thing,” he says, referring to the blockbuster 1999 romcom “Notting Hill,” starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts as a British bookseller and American actress who fall in love. He asked himself at the time: “Why hasn’t this been done?”
The networks, however, “weren’t quite ready” for a series that the Keshet exec described as “purely wish fulfilment.” “It felt that we were a little early on [three or four years ago],” he says. “To do a show that you just want to escape to and enjoy, that certainly has drama, but it’s not dark, it’s not edgy, it’s just pure entertainment.”
Georgaris, who partnered with Keshet Studios on the NBC military drama “The Brave,” admits he was just as skeptical about the idea of an American remake. “There’s a reason romantic comedies have always been movies, and there hasn’t been a one-hour, romantic comedic television show on network television,” he says.
Over the past few years, though, the broadcast landscape changed. American audiences grew ever more sophisticated, and Georgaris says networks became more receptive to a high-concept comedy drama format like “The Baker and the Beauty.”
“If nothing else, the networks have seen the show, and they all now believe [that] you can entertain an audience for an hour with this kind of story-telling,” he says. “Now every network has a one-hour comedic drama in development.”
Expanding on the Israeli original’s 30-minute format allowed Georgaris to broaden the show’s narrative universe, transforming it into more than just the story of an unlikely romance.
“The ‘Notting Hill’ aspect is absolutely fun, it’s absolutely interesting. It’s a chance to explore what falling in love is like for all of us, but then you do it through this heightened prism of celebrity,” says Georgaris. “But the idea that when you get together with someone, you’re not just getting together with them, you’re getting families together, that’s what really got me excited.”
As for the setting, he adds, “Miami and the Cuban immigrant community just seemed like a perfect marriage, no pun intended, for the dynamic of the show.”
Georgaris serves as executive producer along with Becky Hartman Edwards and director David Frankel. Keshet’s Traugott, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman and Rachel Kaplan are also executive producing along with Assar. Jim Chory and Steve Pearlman also serve as executive producers. The series is being distributed by Keshet International and NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
Georgaris and Traugott credited their network partners with buying into their vision from the start, allowing them to steer clear of a familiar strain of over-the-top TV comedy for something that more closely resembles day-to-day-life. “They could have said, ‘Go bigger, go broader.’ But they didn’t,” says Georgaris.
“They’re not life or death stakes [in the show],” Traugott says. “In a soap opera, which this is, of sorts, the instinct is to go bigger. I think we all had to recalibrate to some degree and realized this is a high-concept show, with very…small and specific and grounded kind of stories.”
He adds: “If it entertains people and gives them an hour away from their day, then we’re doing something right.”
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