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Fox has looked abroad for their next attempt at mining comedy gold. They've turned their gaze to the Holy Land and returned with an Israeli buddy comedy called Asfur, which I'm sure doesn't conjure nearly as many images of hairy buttocks in Israel as it does here. Thankfully they'll be giving the show a new name to help avoid juvenile ass jokes from people such as myself. The bad news: it's been given the utterly generic and forgettable title of Hard Up. See, I just typed it and I've already forgotten the title. Now Asfur? That's a name I'll remember.
The original series (pictured above) was created by Hanan Savyon and Guy Amir, but veteran TV dude John Wells (Showtime's Shameless, Southland, ER) will exec producing the U.S. version, and the pilot will be penned by Shameless writer Etan Frankel. All those Shameless connections aren't coincidental; the original versions of both Shameless and Asfur air on an Israeli network called HOT. As Deadline explains, since Wells has already shepherded a successful American-ization of Shameless, he was approached with the prospect of also bringing Asfur/Hard Up to American audiences.
So what's the premise? On the surface, it sounds pretty forgettable. It focuses on four twentysomething guys who are having to "fight against the odds to keep their home in a gentrifying neighborhood." Sounds like it's definitely in the same vein as Shameless. And while the idea doesn't immediately have me reaching over to program my DVR, I don't know that the logline of Shameless would have hooked me either, and that's now one of my favorite shows.
Hard Up isn't the only recent Israeli import to hit American networks. Both Showtime's excellent Homeland and HBO's In Treatment were based on Israeli series. That being said, translating a foreign TV show into an American version isn't always pretty. I still have seizures whenever I think of the American versions of sci-fi Britcom Red Dwarf or Steven Moffat's Coupling--
Whoops, sorry, I was having a seizure. At any rate, stay tuned to CB and we'll bring you further news about Hard Up as we hear it.