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Tonight, the risque and once controversial reality show, Dugmaniot (Models), will air the first episode of its much-hyped second season on Channel 10. Vying for the for the title of "Israel's next top model," the models are not unlike the contestants in supermodel Tyra Bank's highly successful American series.
This show's producers promise even more glitz, glamor and gamesmanship than last season. The 14 competitors, picked from 1,500 hopefuls across the country, will participate in various fashion assignments, photo shoots and public appearances which will determine whether or not they have both the talent and temperament to survive the cutthroat industry. The coveted prizes on offer this time include a year-long modeling contract with "GO UNDER," an Israeli underwear modeling agency, $2000 worth of clothing, and a trip to Milan, where the winner will be introduced to the movers and shakers in the fashion circles of Italy's most exclusive city.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, 19 year-old contestant Michelle Lawrie, whose family arrived in Israel 9 years ago from the US, said that she's temporarily postponed her studies in business and law at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary center to take part in the program. Naming Oprah Winfrey as her role model, she said her long-term ambition is to be a TV talk-show host. When asked whether she considers herself a good example for young girls, she replied in the affirmative, adding, "I hope that the audience will see that I am not just some blonde bimbo from Herzliya. It is important for women to feel confident about themselves despite any physical imperfections they may have."
Until the conclusion of the 10 episode series hosted by Galit Gutman, the girls will be living together in one apartment, which Lawrie says has already created a degree of tension amongst certain members of the group, in particular between Keren and Sharon, Mimi and Niral. The intense pressure cooker atmosphere of the contest will also be heightened by the constant critical comments and analysis of the five judges, who include former international model Yael Reich, journalist and fashion editor Elimor Zilberman and Betty Rockaway, owner of Image modeling agency.
Reshut HaShnia, the official Israeli television watchdog, had complained last series that the bare-it-all wardrobe worn by the contestants was not appropriate for the 9p.m. slot it had been given. Initially the time slot was moved forward to 9.35, but since then it has been moved back to its original scheduling position.
According to Dugmaniot creator and director Ravit Lior-Mandel, the first season was controversial because the public was shocked by what really goes on behind the scenes in the modeling world. "People began to realize that not all that glitters is gold," she said, "and this kind of raw exposure was clearly too much for these conservatives bear."
Whatever the viewing public's response, the hardships and constant scrutiny have paid off for several of last season's contestants.
Lior-Mandel noted that five finalists from season one went on to work in the industry, including the winner Victoria, who is currently working for Look modeling agency. "The difference between this season and last is that these girls come from much more diverse backgrounds, and they will also be asked to do crazy photo shoots on ice and underwater."
Although the format of the show may have changed a little, it's obvious that the primary selling point and interest in the show, at least for male viewers, will be the scantily-clad women prancing around in seductive poses.
After a heated debate had conservative viewers pushing to take Dugmaniot 1 off the air, it will be interesting to see whether season two producers stick to their guns and continue to encourage the models to push the boundaries of propriety.