This March, your very own TV Addict was afforded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Israel to learn about the incredible television and technology being created by the little nation that could (Thanks Vibe Israel!). One of the standouts amongst the many many many amazing people and places we experienced was Omri Marcus. Marcus is a television and new media maven who was kind enough to take some time away from his very-busy-globe-trotting schedule to regale us with some unbelievably true stories from the burgenoning Israeli television industry.
Israel’s Television Industry is barely legal drinking age!
Had this TV Addict grown up in Israel, our childhood would have been very very different. Primarily because commercial television wasn’t introduced into the country until 1990! Stranger still, Israel’s most watched channel (2), is shared by not just one, but two networks with Keshet and Reshet broadcasting 3 or 4 days a week, rotating ever two years.
In Living Color
In an effort to maintain equality between those who could and those who could not afford a colour television — coupled with the Israeli government’s belief that colour televisions were a frivilous luxury — State run television didn’t boadcast in colour until 1984! Stranger still, since Israel was more than capable of filming television in colour, a black market quickly arose where as purchasers of televisions in Israel would also have to buy a device that would disable the colour removal mechanism ordered by the government.
TV By the Numbers
Earlier this afternoon, AMC touted the admittedly fantastic fact that THE WALKING DEAD ended its fifth season with a record audience of 15.8 million, or in a country numbering around 300 million, 5.2% of the potential audience. Needless to say, it’s a good thing THE WALKING DEAD airs in the United States, because the threshold to be considered a hit in Israel is attracting 30% of the country (To put that in perspective, pretty much the only show that attracts 30% of Americans is the Super Bowl!) One of Israeli’s longest running and most popular television shows is their version of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE called “A Wonderful Land.”
The Day the Laughter Died
Think the recent Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien controversy was a serious scandal? Think again! For Dudu Topaz’s long running popular television show “Rashut Habidur” (The Entertainment Authority) was taken off the air, Topaz — once considered Israeli’s version of Jay Leno — didn’t exit stage left quite as gracefully. Tragically, he exacted revenge on top-level TV executives and agents by hiring goons to assault them. His story ended on August 20, 2009, when he commied suicide in prison after being indicted for his actions.
Don’t Tell PETA!
As a result of a very untimely death of a poor Camel on LIVE Israeli television many years ago, camels are no longer allowed to be used on live broadcasts. Who knew?!
Photo Credit: Eyal Yasski – Weiss