IF SHE had merely remained the roommate of Guy Zuaretz instead of getting married to him, Yael Bar-Zohar might still be the saucy poster girl for Fox. But there were rumors that she might be pregnant, and while the sizzling Fox commercials showed her fooling around with ex-boyfriend Yehuda Levy, the people at Fox were less than happy with the thought that the institution of marriage might cause their wild and sexy blonde to develop a tummy, after which she would turn into a settled, satisfied mom.
So it was bye Yael and hello Esti.
The folks at Fox were clever enough not to choose a brunette or even a redhead to replace the girl with the corn-colored hair who for four years had led the Fox campaigns and was completely identified with the brand in the eyes of the public.
Not that Esti Ginsburg with the full, sensuous mouth could be described as a young version of YBZ, but she's in the same somewhat naughty Barbie Doll-come-to-life genre, with long blonde hair and a slim figure. At age 16, she's not exactly a novice. She's modeled for Burberry, Pull & Bear, Tommy Hilfiger and the French Connection. For the time being, she's on a two-year contract. Now it remains to be seen who can outfox whom.
HE MAY be the longest-serving politician in Israel, and certainly the oldest among those who are still active, but somewhere along the line Shimon Peres, 82, discovered the elixir of youth - and he's not sharing the secret.
As part of Kadima's vote-getting campaign, Peres went bar-hopping in the Holy City last Thursday night, accompanied by former and present members of the Jerusalem City Council in the persons of Dalia Itzik, his protege and a former minister who followed him when he left Labor and earned herself a prominent spot on the Kadima list; and Nir Barkat, who heads the opposition in the Jerusalem City Council. Peres came dressed for the occasion, sporting an open-necked shirt and a leather windbreaker. Relaxing with a beer in a night club, Peres enthusiastically joined in the birthday celebrations of one of the patrons, asked if she came there often and sang her a somewhat off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday" - in English.
BELIEVE IT or not, there's someone who has a little brinksmanship over Peres in the art of being an active elder. Ma'ariv last week reported that Mounes Mazouri, one of the graduates of Hod Hasharon College, completed his studies on knowledge of Israel and the Middle East with outstanding results. An eternal and ambitious student, Mazouri is now trying to figure out what he'll study next.
He's absolutely raring to go - and he's 100 years young. Trailing slightly behind in Yeroham is German-born Shlomo Marcus, 95, who is totally independent, uses a computer, does his own cooking and cleaning, and still drives. Prior to moving to Yeroham 17 years ago, Marcus worked as a librarian at the National and Hebrew University libraries.
HE WHO laughs last laughs best, runs the old adage. Indeed on Thursday of last week, it definitely looked as if Israel's Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon was having the last laugh on former foreign minister Silvan Shalom, who is no longer in government, and on Foreign Ministry director general Ron Prosor. Prosor was appointed during Shalom's watch, and was unwillingly embroiled in the tensions between Ayalon and Shalom because Ayalon was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's man, and thus didn't report to Shalom.
After Yediot Aharonot - the newspaper that belongs to the family of Shalom's wife, radio and television personality Judy Shalom Nir Mozes - did a little muck-racking on the verbal abuse that the ambassador's wife Anne allegedly hurls at the embassy's domestic employees, the ambassador came up with an implausible story that it was really JSNM who was getting her pound of flesh - in retaliation for the refusal by his assistant Liran Peterzil to arrange a photo opportunity for the Shaloms with Madonna when the superstar visited Israel for Rosh Hashana 2004.
For one thing, the combined personal connections of the then foreign minister and his wife could have gotten them a group shot with Madonna just about anytime, anywhere. For another, JSNM says they were out of the country. They certainly didn't attend the lavish dinner at which other government ministers posed with the celebrity.
Anyway, with one thing leading to another, Shalom decided he wanted Ayalon out, and hoped to have him recalled last summer. Prosor had words with Ayalon, and the Civil Service Commission came into the picture. Despite all the headlines predicting Ayalon's ouster, he's still sitting pretty in Washington, and Shalom has lost whatever clout he had. But there was still Prosor to be reckoned with, and the best way to do that was to leave him off the guest list of a dinner that Ayalon hosted in honor of the new Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Media speculation that Livni was planning to rid herself of Prosor came to the Minister's attention, and she was quick to reprimand Ayalon and make it clear that she was running a professional ship on which there is no room for personal animosities. Prosor may yet have the last laugh.
ON HIS late-night show on Channel 2, news anchor Aharon Barnea devoted most of the program to Tommy Lapid, who, after serving as leader of Shinui and as justice minister, recently announced his retirement from politics. Barnea suggested to the 74-year-old Lapid that perhaps he would like to become president when Moshe Katsav winds up his term at the end of July, 2007.
Had the idea been put to him 10 years ago, said Lapid, he would have certainly given the matter some thought, "but I'm too old now." Perhaps Barnea, who, before joining Channel 2, served briefly as presidential spokesman during the early period of Ezer Weizman's tenure, has a hankering for something a little less nerve-wracking than being a news anchor.
AND ONE last word about Channel 2. For more than half a year there was talk that Shalom Kittal would be replaced as head honcho of the Channel 2 News Corporation, whose guiding light he has been since its inception. The Channel 2 management was looking for fresh blood, but mindful of Kittal's tremendous contribution to the success of the news division, made it clear that when tenders for the job were being offered, he could re-apply.
Channel 2's top journalists, who have enormous respect and affection for Kittal, could not understand why anyone would even think of replacing him, and forcefully made their views known to management. The upshot is that Kittal will stay put. After all the upheavals and detrimental publicity that Channel 2 franchisee Keshet experienced last year when it ousted its former president Uri Shenar, the news corporation doesn't need any more rocking of the boat if it wants its employees to stay happy.
SOCCER STAR Avi Nimni is taking care of his future both on and off the field. A key player in the Israel National Team as well as Maccabi Tel Aviv, Nimni has signed up with Cellcom to record its voice mail message. Callers to Cellcom voice mail subscribers will hear him say: "Shalom, this is Avi Nimni speaking. You have reached the voice mail of numberâ€¦" Cellcom expects lots of soccer fans to subscribe to its voice mail service for the sheer kick of having Nimni in their pockets - so to speak.