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INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS Orly Vilnai-Federbush and Guy Meroz, known for focusing the public's attention on social injustices, are the most recent celebrities to join Arkadi Gaydamak's Radio 99. Like the majority of their colleagues, the two will continue to work in their regular fields of employment, but will also have their own programs (or participate in various slots) on Radio 99. When Gaydamak acquired the station, he said that he would get the best talent to work there. Through Ram Landes, chairman of Radio 99's board of directors, he's making good on his promise.
Some of the other celebrities signed by Landes include Linoi Bar-Gefen, Guy Pines, Ofira Sayag and Arel Segal. Landes jumped the gun by issuing a statement to the effect that Channel 2's political commentator Amnon Abramovitch would also be joining the Radio 99 team. Abramovitch was quick to clarify that he was not going to be part of Radio 99, but would appear occasionally, just as he does on other electronic media.
IT'S NOT unusual for household names from the entertainment industry to endorse products or projects. In fact, sometimes they make more money from endorsements than they do from stage and screen appearances. But even when they're not necessarily getting paid for what they do, or getting paid so little that it barely counts, it's interesting to see what celebrities are devoting their time to beyond the stage and screen.
Among the more outstanding examples of media personalities who parlay their notoriety into other spheres of influence is MK Shelly Yacimovich, who after a successful career in radio and television, decided to become a legislator. Her voice is heard so often on the airwaves, that it's almost as if she never left. Then there's television and print media celeb Yair Lapid, who aside from making a bundle from endorsing Bank HaPoalim, rubs shoulders with people at the top of the political tree, partly through the good offices of his father, former Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, who went from journalism into politics and back again. For instance, Tommy Lapid and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are good friends who often meet over a dinner table frequented by Yair.
Actress Aviva Marx and comedienne Orna Banai are big believers in the humane treatment of animals. Banai is also into politics and sits on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council where she chairs the Protection of Animals Committee and is a member of the Enhancement of the Status of the Child Committee.
Israel's queen of stage and screen, Gila Almagor, is also interested helping children and established the Gila Almagor Make-a-Wish Foundation to bring some joy into the lives of children afflicted with cancer.
Last week actress Riki Blich appeared before the Knesset Economics committee to protest the right of business enterprises to put up huge billboards and video screens in public places.
And that's just a short list of the celebrities who choose to expand their reach.
CELEBRITIES ARE continuing to populate the world. Last week Jerusalem-born actress Mili Avital, 35, gave birth in New York to her first child, a boy. Avital is married to film director and screenwriter Charles Randolph. The couple divides its time between New York and Los Angeles, where both Avital and Randolph have career commitments.
THOUGH HIT very hard by his divorce, Moshe Datz appears to be recovering nicely. He's been spotted dating several young women, including those in the cast of his current production Shoshana the Lamb. Datz was recently seen by a pool in Eilat cosying up to Michal Tsafir, who is one of the show's stars.
ALSO FREE to date again is Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy, who after a three year relationship with Adam Pines, is back to being solo. Levy was previously involved in a close relationship with news presenter Yaakov Eilon. They split up after Eilon moved from Channel 2 to Channel 10. The resulting publicity was not exactly pleasant. The upshot was that when Levy found another love in her life, she was very careful to keep the relationship as private as possible, and for the most part, she and Pines were able to steer clear of the paparazzi.
EVERYONE KNOWS that you can't take it with you when you die, but you can keep on making money, even beyond the grave. To prove it Forbes magazine's annual "Dead Celebrity Rich List" named Elvis Presley the highest earner among deceased celebrities this year, having earned a total of $49 million. John Lennon came in second place with $44 million. Fellow Beatle George Harrison was in the fourth spot with $22 million.