David Schwimmer David Schwimmer David Schwimmer arrives for the 'Trust' premiere during the 37th Deauville American Film Festival on September 8, 2011 in Deauville, France. (Photo: Francois Durand / Getty Images)

'Friends' alum to star in Israeli-inspired series

Hollywood imports another TV series from abroad, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Actor David Schwimmer will return to television this fall. He’ll be starring in ABC’s Irreversible, an import of Israel’s No. 1 comedy, Bilti Hafich. It is his first lead role since 2004, when the long-running hit series Friends ended.

U.S. television producers increasingly are relying on adaptations of successful foreign series – and it has become a winning formula. Israel, in particular, has provided the source material for several American series including Showtime’s hit drama Homeland, adapted from an Israeli show, and HBO’s psychotherapy show, In Treatment.

Casting famous actors is another familiar twist. Claire Danes came to Homeland after several high-profile film roles, while In Treatment enlisted the talents of mainstays Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest.

The new sitcom, which ABC won in a bidding war with several networks, focuses on a young couple dealing with the strains of raising their first child. Schwimmer plays Andy, a writer with two books under his belt trying to pay his bills by teaching writing workshops. He is married to Sarah, a feisty morning show host played by British actress Jessica Knappett.

ABC’s description of the show suggests that Andy and Sarah are self-involved and neurotic – something Schwimmer has experience playing – and bring most of their problems upon themselves. The series will be “partially improvised,” inviting natural comparisons to Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Schwimmer will also be a producer on the new show.

The show’s Israeli creative team will retain some control over the adapted version: The original co-creator Segahl Avin will write the series as well as direct the pilot episode.

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