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(photo credit: Keshet)
The country's top comedians, talk show hosts and dramatic actors will collect their prizes nearly two months late tonight at the rescheduled awards show of the Israel Television Academy. Originally planned for July, the ceremony was postponed due to fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, with organizers waiting until after the end of the war to announce a new date for one of the TV industry's most important nights.
Stars including Eyal Kitzis (A Wonderful Country), Margalit Tsanani (A Star is Born) and Miri Bohadana (Love around the Corner) will gather in Herzliya for the ceremony and pre-show reception, with a broadcast of the show set to air at 9 p.m. on Channel Two. The postponed awards show arrives near the end of the most eventful peacetime week in Israeli television this year, following highly rated finales for Channel Two series A Star is Born and Dancing with Stars Thursday and Monday night. The network's near-monopoly on primetime excitement will come to an end Friday with its broadcast of the Ophirs, Israel's equivalent of the Oscars.
TV viewers will gather to decide whether the jampacked schedule has taken its toll on several of the country's biggest TV personalities, a few of whom have achieved levels of local ubiquity that would make Tom Cruise jealous. Foremost among them is Avi Kushnir, the Dancing with Stars host who will see that show's first season compete in the ceremony's reality category before Life Isn't Everything, a sitcom featuring the comedian, faces off against a collection of primetime soap operas for the best comedy/drama prize.
Kushnir will be joined at Wednesday's ceremony by former Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer champ Haim Revivo, now a TV star thanks to Rokdim, and Hila Nachshon, Kushnir's eye-popping blonde co-host on the hit dance contest. (Loathe to waste a tie-in opportunity, Kushnir's Life kicked off its next season Monday during a break in the Dancing broadcast; for good measure, the actor and comedian is also currently preparing for the theatrical release of his next movie, which screened for members of the press Tuesday.)
Also carefully watching the statuette haul for multiple series are comic actresses Alma Zak and Orna Banai, who co-star every Friday on Channel Two news parody A Wonderful Country and have found success in the past year respectively on psychological drama On the Couch and Imaleh, Banai's warmly reviewed series about a young single mother. (Not to be outdone by the multi-tasking Kushnir, Banai is now preparing for the next season of A Wonderful Country while already shooting new episodes of Imaleh, while Zak is still basking in the afterglow of her Top 10 musical hit earlier this year with pop band Teapacks.)
But despite the abundance of stars at tonight's ceremony, the handing out of the awards themselves may prove something of an anti-climax. In contrast to the Emmy Awards, whose winners are named in the weeks leading up to the start of the new American television season, this year's Israel Television Academy awards come well after many of the nominated shows have gone off the air or months before new seasons begin. The cast of Our Song, for example, is awaiting the outcome of nominations in a number of categories for the show's second season, despite the fact that the popular YES soap opera recently completed its third. It's hard to know how excited Telenovela, Ltd. stars Tali Sharon and Ofer Schechter can be about their acting nominations for the series, which ended nearly a year ago, or how invested TV fans will be in the fate of Born to Dance, nominated in the reality TV category after wrapping up its debut season in February.
But in Israel and at the Emmys, the awards for most people are just an excuse to see how TV's familiar faces look and act without the help of costume changes and a script. And with prizes set for distribution in categories ranging from children's programming to investigative news specials, the night is sure to offer something of interest for just about everyone - even those without a single TV series to their name.