‘The Ratings King’ of Israel Accused of Hiring Thugs

By Nathan Burstein

Published June 04, 2009, issue of June 12, 2009.

In a real-life scandal far juicier than his TV shows, an Israeli actor and talk show host admitted June 2 to orchestrating a string of violent attacks on executives within the country’s entertainment industry.

Dudu Topaz
YONI HAMENACHEM
Dudu Topaz

Dudu Topaz, long a staple of Israeli television and movies, made his confession after “breaking down” during an interview with police, Israeli media reported in headlines that eclipsed much of the day’s other news. The confession came two days after the performer’s arrest, and 24 hours after a Tel Aviv judge extended his remand by more than a week, reportedly due to fears that Topaz might flee the country.

A veteran of Israel’s entertainment industry known for controversial slips of the tongue and other antics, Topaz, born David Goldenberg, has floundered professionally in recent years after drawing huge television ratings earlier in his career. Two recent talk shows and a reality series fizzled after just one season, failures the star may have blamed on his alleged victims. He is accused of hiring at least two young men with criminal records to assault the three victims — agent Boaz Ben-Zion and executives at rival television companies Keshet and Reshet, both of which employed Topaz in recent years. The victim of the most recent attack, Reshet official Shira Margalit, is recovering from injuries inflicted by unknown assailants outside her home in mid-May.

In the most recent post on his personal blog, dated April 1, the entertainer thanked fans for their “desire to see me as a host on television again.” Whether that would happen, he added, “doesn’t depend on me, but on television’s decision makers.”



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