The Top Ten

The Most Influential People in Israeli Television

1. Avi Nir, 52, CEO of Keshet

2. Avi Zvi, 43, CEO of Reshet

Avi Zvi's appointment as CEO of Reshet, one of the two Channel 2 franchises, at the beginning of 2009, came as a surprise. Zvi's background lay not in television but in marketing and business. It is difficult to point to any major change in Reshet since then, but its situation as the underdog of Channel 2 is gradually being transformed. Zvi brought a gung-ho spirit and a strategy of massive purchasing of formats. Along with "The Race to the Million," two seasons of "The Voice" were bought and broadcast. "The X Factor" was acquired for the struggle against "A Star Is Born" (Israel's version of "American Idol"), and "Survivor" was also bought, under the nose of Channel 10 (an ugly legal battle is now underway for the right to broadcast the reality show).

3. Yoram Mokady, 47, vice president for content and regulation at HOT cable TV

HOT cable television emphasizes original Israeli content. Yoram Mokady is one of the executives behind this approach, certainly the most senior of them. Together with Mirit Toubi, who is in charge of the drama unit, Mokady presents a different type of programming, one that sets HOT apart. The drama category includes Dana Modan's "Ananda" and the crime series "The Arbitrator," and there is also a welcome readiness to take risks: "Euphoria," "Mom and Dads," and later in the year, "Mekimi" and "Zagouri Empire."

4. Yona Wiesenthal, vice president for content, YES satellite TV -

As a content company, Yes wields greater purchasing power than its rivals. All the comedies that were candidates for prizes in the latest Emmy awards were broadcast on Yes, as were four of the six dramas (the other two were viewable on Hot cable television and Channel 1). Yes is also fighting the pirate downloading of top series by broadcasting them just a few days after the United States a decision that works in favor of the viewers, not against them. Yes features programs in every genre: documentaries ("West of Memphis"), establishment American series ("Modern Family") and quality content from foreign cable networks American ("Girls," "Throne of Blood"), British ("The Fall"), Swedish and Danish ("Borgen").

5. Avi Weiss, 47, CEO of Channel 2 News

Last April, the Channel 2 News board of directors decided to extend Avi Weiss's contract. No one competed against him, and his status is indeed unrivaled. Israeli viewers, who are the top news consumers in the West, vote with their remotes. Even if Channel 10 managed to put a few small dents in the ratings, its troubled state left the arena pretty much entirely in the skilled hands of anchorwoman Yonit Levy. Weiss is responsible for the wildly popular evening newscast, for the sometimes controversial panel of commentators and even for the habit of considering Yair Lapid an authoritative figure who has something interesting to say about political issues.

6. Lior Schlein, 35, moderator of "State of the Union"

Life is good for Lior Schlein. "State of the Union" is the funniest program on television, the government provides punch lines, and he no longer has knots in his hair. Schlein lashes out right and left, at Yair Lapid and at himself, but mostly he enjoys his new status as the arrogant guy who people don't love to hate anymore. He's not the funniest guy on the panel (Guri Alfi), he's not the prettiest (Enav Galili) and he's not the coolest (Orna Banai). He also has a tendency to tell lame political jokes. But he's definitely the person whose position five years hence we would most like to know about.

7. The Heymann brothers: Tomer, 42, and Barak, 37, documentary filmmakers

The Heymann brothers are an empire. They have 15 titles on IMDb, there were half a million VOD downloads of their "Families" (a record for an Israeli documentary series), they are big at festivals and they have won prizes. Not bad for a small production company that began with Tomer's obsession to always carry a camera and document everything that moves. But Tomer is not the only fanatic in the family. The partnership with his brother, Barak, who produces, directs, edits, shoots and markets, and above all sees only what he wants, has created an enterprise that operates around the clock and supplies an elite group of artists who don't come to work for the money to a market that is crying out for quality.

8. Muli Segev, 41, chief editor of the Channel 2 satirical program "A Wonderful Country"

For the past 10 years, the more absurd and despairing the situation in Israel becomes, and the lower the quality of local television, the more "A Wonderful Country" stands out for its consistently high level of writing and acting. Though it sometimes tries to curry favor with the audience, it also makes razor-sharp observations about the country's establishment. This humor show, an establishment in its own right, has become the Holy Grail for many comedians, and it also played a certain role (not only according to Segev) in this year's Knesset elections.

9. Haim Slutzky, 65, producer

Haim Slutzky's empire has been expanding in recent years. In 2005, the former hyperactive impresario and agent became the owner and producer of the HOT Israeli Entertainment channel. And that was just the beginning. Along with developing a production unit for dramas and documentaries, Slutzky became the producer for Channel 8 (akin to the Discovery Channel) this year. He then bought the floundering Israeli Fashion Channel, and recently, i24 News, a trilingual (English, French, Arabic) international news channel based in Jaffa Port was
launched under his production.

10. Giora Hamitzer, 42, creator and producer of programming for children's channels

Son of the well-known Israeli games creator and writer Dan Hamitzer, Giora Hamitzer joined the Children's Channel right after his army service. Among the programs he has created are "The Eight," "The Island" and "The Hothouse." In a television world that suffers from a dearth of local series, Hamitzer's highly popular daily dramas (sometimes involving melodramatic intrigues), have succeeded in preserving a young audience that tends to escape to other screens with short clips. They will grow up to be the target audience of the future.

Kobi Kalmanowitz
Kobi Kalmanowitz