Case Study: How To Be

Avi Armoza, the founder and CEO of Armoza Formats, talks about the factual-entertainment show.

The factual-entertainment series How To Be watches as a well-known journalist delves into the psyche of various celebrities—from actors to athletes, musicians to politicians—learning everything there is to know about that person by essentially becoming them. In a twist, the roles are then reversed: celebrity will become interviewer, and interviewer will “become” the celebrity. Armoza Formats is selling the format worldwide.

How To Be was created by renowned Israeli TV journalist Roni Kuban. “He was fed up with the unchanging interview rituals of the same questions and the same answers, especially when dealing with celebrities,” explains Avi Armoza, the founder and CEO of Armoza Formats. “With a background in acting, he was drawn to the idea of finding a way to get into a celebrity’s head with the aim of ‘becoming’ them and to bring to life a completely new and different type of interview. When Artza Productions then came to us with ***Image***the idea, we instantly fell in love with the concept and with its original and innovative angle, and therefore collaborated with Artza to produce the format for an international launch.”

Armoza recalls that How To Be gained a lot of attention from the moment it was launched. It first aired in Sweden on TV3 with an eight-episode season. “The Swedish adaptation garnered a lot of attention from critics and in the media with its fresh and creative approach, and is raising the channel’s ratings in the time slot,” he says. “It has also aired on Germany’s ZDF and ZDFneo with two strong and attention-grabbing seasons, and we are looking forward to the third season, which is set to air this summer.” The show has broadcast on the Netherlands’ Nederland 3 (now NPO 3), Israel’s Channel 10 and is due to air soon on both Norway’s NRK and Spain’s Cuatro.

“In How To Be, we have found that the main difference in the international versions revolves around how the host ‘becomes’ the celebrity,” says Armoza. “Although in general the show goes deeper than standard celebrity interviews, one approach is more lighthearted and places the focus on physically becoming the celebrity, such as in Israel and Sweden, while the second approach emphasizes the more in-depth and delving perspective, as per the German adaptation. As well as being influenced by the country’s culture, the trajectory of the format is very influenced by the host. This is due to the fact that a host will always more naturally lean to one of these approaches, depending on his previous experience, for example an actor versus a well-known journalist.”

He explains that there is also a range of differences in the way that the finale takes place. “With Sweden being the first country to air the format, they worked in a Mission Impossible-style feel to the role reversal, with the host being given a full makeover (including the peel-off face!), so that the celebrity sitting opposite and being interviewed by himself is visually very dramatic.”

Armoza says that one of the great things about this format is that it can work well with different types of broadcasters. “A public broadcaster that is looking for more in-depth content with a slightly more serious tone can take the show to political and public figures, whereas a commercial broadcaster looking for an entertainment perspective will go for the lighthearted angle with pop-culture celebrities.” He adds that with regard to time slot, this format is also fairly flexible: “Depending on the broadcaster, interviewer and interviewees, it can range from prime time to access prime time or late night.”

The key selling point for the format, according to Armoza, is that it provides a different and “refreshing take” on celebrity interviews, one that is meant to give viewers a true look at the real person behind the celebrity façade.” It is a deeper and more meaningful way to get to know them. In addition, the elements of humor throughout the show, and especially with the visual shock of the finale, sets it apart from other interview formats. In general, it provides a completely new perspective and a new experience for our viewers in a topic that we can’t seem to get enough of!”

Armoza Formats is finalizing some new deals for How To Be at the moment. “In general, we see How To Be as a timeless format with huge potential (as well as being one of my personal favorites!) and we have high hopes for it,” Armoza says.