Celebrity Grapevine [p. 24]

FORBES MAGAZINE, the world's financial pulse taker, has named filmmaker Steven Spielberg the top celebrity income earner of 2005. According to the magazine, Spielberg's gross earnings for the year were $340 million, averaging out to $647 per minute. DJ Howard Stern came in second at $308 million, while Star Wars creator George Lucas landed in third with $240 million. Two women made the Top 10, with Oprah Winfrey ranking fourth at $230 million and Harry Potter author JK Rowling raking in $78 million for ninth place. Sandwiched between the two women in fifth through eighth place were comedian Jerry Seinfeld ($102 million), golfer Tiger Woods ($93 million), Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown ($91 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer ($80 million). Dick Wolf, the creator of the Law & Order TV franchise, rounded out the Top 10 with $72 million. ARGENTINIAN-BORN Ilana Dayan, the anchor of Channel 2's hard-hitting investigative news program Fact, has accepted an assignment to press Israel's case in South America. No, she hasn't been enlisted by the foreign ministry or the prime minister's office. Instead, she's being sent by Bank Leumi, which wants to strengthen its connection with the Jewish communities of South America in general and Chile and Argentina in particular. SPEAKING OF Bank Leumi, it would be interesting to know where Maariv reporter Yehuda Sharoni keeps his savings. It was Sharoni who broke the story last week about the decision by Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz to sell his investment portfolio a couple of hours after the kidnapping of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hizbullah. Halutz sold his shares - you guessed it - via Leumi Bank. Banking matters, like legal matters, are supposed to be confidential, and the question now is whether Leumi has its own equivalent of Liora Glatt Berkovitch, the Tel Aviv prosecutor who leaked information to Ha'aretz reporter Baruch Kra about the secret investigation into the Ariel Sharon-Gilad Sharon-Cyril Kern affair, which quickly exploded into international headlines. DISPROVING RUMORS that they would leave Channel 10 when their contract expires next year, the hosts of current affairs roundtable London and Kirschenbaum have just signed a new contract with the channel that will preserve their time slot until at least May 2009. Yaron London and Mordechai Kirschenbaum have proven themselves two of Channel 10's prime assets, and the pair had been wooed by Shalom Kittal, the news chief at Channel 2. The two senior newsmen cut their broadcasting teeth on Israel Radio and later worked at Israel Television, and apparently chose to stick with their current home rather than start over again at Channel 2. IN OTHER news about TV news, Channel 10 recently acquired Galgalatz Chief Eldad Koblentz, who will become one of the station's senior managers. Koblentz is expected to take up his new post in September. Like many members of the broadcast industry, Koblentz started his career wile performing his compulsory army service. He was sent to Army Radio in 1985 and quickly became a music editor. When he was put in charge of Galgalatz in 1996, he made pop music a priority. ISRAEL RADIO's Benny Dudkevitch has been hosting his own pre-dawn pop program this summer. Curious about who might be listening at a time when most Israelis are asleep, Dudkevitch asked listeners to fax him at the studio. He was flabbergasted by the response. Aside from faxes he received from all over Israel, others came in from all over the world, some from places he'd never heard of. A notable number of listeners tune in to Israel Radio via the Internet, apparently, and they were only too happy to let Dudkevitch know that his program had attracted eager fans from well beyond Israel's borders. ICONOCLASTIC BROADCASTER Gabi Gazit, the host of Israel Radio's It's All Talk, couldn't resist giving himself a pat on the back last week. The Israel Broadcasting Authority's Website indicated that his show's Webpage had received more hits than any other on the station. Though cynical in style, Gazit often reflects the conscience of the nation - which may explain his popularity.