Supermodel Bar Refaeli and television hosts Erez Tal, Assi Azar, and Lucy Ayoub will host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv on May 18. The European Broadcasting Union made the official announcement on Friday, after a great deal of speculation and auditioning dozens of Israeli artists.
Tal, a big fan of Eurovision, accompanied the broadcast of the last Eurovision for Israelis from Lisbon, where Netta Barzilai won with her song “Toy.” Having hosted numerous shows including the Israeli version of "Big Brother" and "The Vault," Tal has over 25 years of experience in hosting entertainment and reality shows, as well as competitions.
Model and television host Refaeli has appeared as a judge on “The X Factor Israel.” The decision to choose Refaeli was made weeks ago, but an indictment to be filed against her – conditional on a hearing first – for tax evasion led to a number of questions about the choice of her as the Eurovision host. Israel's Public Broadcasting Corpoeration, Kan, seemed unswayed by the model's legal troubles and kept her, in addition to the European Union also approving the decision.
Azar who co-hosts the televised singing competition “The Next Star,” has said a number of times that his greatest aspiration is to host the Eurovision contest. Ayoub, who works for the Kan public broadcaster, will appear alongside Azar. She presented Israel’s votes in last year’s contest.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev criticized Ayoub for speaking Arabic during last year’s broadcast, after she said “good evening” in both Hebrew and Arabic. This will be Ayoub's first major role hosting a large-scale television event.
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The producers of the competition are now looking to focus on planning the performances of various artists that will be part of the show but not part of the competition. So far, Israeli musician Idan Raichel and magician Lior Suchard have been chosen to appear. Raichel performs internationally in music festivals all over the world and Suchard is one of the most famous mentalists, or as he calls himself: a “mystifier,” in the world – in part because he is close to the Kardashian family, who haveinvited him in the past to perform at their private events – and because he often appears on major late-night television programs in the United States.
The producers are also in talks with Madonna, who has expressed interest in launching her new single during the broadcast of the finals of the contest, but no contract has been signed yet.
EBU representatives announced that delegations from 42 counties, including Israel, will participate in the contest in Tel Aviv. This will be the 42nd time Israel is participating in the competition. The only country that participated in the Eurovision last year but will not be coming to Tel Aviv is Bulgaria, which said it was not participating for financial reasons.