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TALK SHOW host, author and playwright Yair Lapid has displaced basketball coach Pini Gershon in the Forbes Israel list of the country's 50 most influential celebrities. The rankings were based on an index combining each person's income and number of appearances or mentions on radio, television, the Internet and in the print media. The only woman in the top 10 was Rita, with others in the top 10 including television host Tzvika Hadar, soccer player Avi Nimni, basketball players Anthony Parker and Tal Burstein, and singers Aviv Gefen, Shlomo Artzi and Idan Reichel.
AMERICAN FILM star Macaulay Culkin slipped unobtrusively into Israel last week, shunning the bright lights but soaking up the sun in Tel Aviv and on tours around the country during his five-day stay.
ISRAEL'S FASHION industry may not wield the influence of Paris or Milan, but a fashion project in Dimona is developing an increasingly impressive celebrity clientele. Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and Oprah Winfrey are among the big names buying clothing from the Black Hebrew community of Dimona, Ma'ariv reported last week. The attractive, colorful and comfortable designs were originally sold as part of fundraising efforts by the Black Hebrews, who began marketing the clothes on trips to the United States. The beautifully embroidered designs are made by 25 members of the Black Hebrew community and are sold not only in the US, but also in several African countries and to members of the African business and diplomatic communities here in Israel.
ISRAELIS WHO marry abroad often host a reception or take part in another ceremony within a week or two of returning home. Not so in the case of former MK Inbal Gavrieli and her husband, soccer star Liran Strauber, who tied the knot in Las Vegas just over a month ago but won't marry in a religious ceremony in Israel until August 28. The venue this time is the relatively new and stately Avenue Convention Center at the edge of Ben-Gurion Airport. The couple met three years ago in the nicest way possible - at a joint bar mitzva party for youngsters from economically deprived families. Gavrieli was one of the organizers, and Strauber was one of the celebrities who came to celebrate.
POPULAR RADIO personality Yossi Sias, who moved his family to the United States after losing a salary dispute with the Israel Broadcasting Authority, may return. Sias, who spent 15 years as an anchor on Israel Radio, has been broadcasting to Israel from Miami on Non-Stop Radio, but chances now appear high that he'll soon be appearing on television here. Negotiations for a new show are currently at an advanced stage, and if all goes well, Sias will return to Israel - at least temporarily - for filming. Sias was famous for using his program to help people in distress, and his regular listeners, who were devastated when he left the country, will surely be delighted by his return.