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Israeli TV star ordered execs beaten up

How not to pitch for a new show, allegedly

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A Israeli variety show presenter was yesterday cuffed for allegedly responding to TV executives' rejection of his show ideas by having them beaten up.

Dudu Topaz, 62, is according to the BBC one of the country's top names. But his star has of late been on the wane following the cancellation of his own show five years ago.

Apparently "keen to make a comeback", he allegedly pressed his case by hiring a crew of former security guards who over the last year have assaulted Shira Margalit, deputy director general of the Reshet television network, Avi Nir, director-general of the Keshet network, and actor's agent Boaz Ben-Zion.

The latest attack earlier this month saw 40-year-old Margalit hospitalised with a broken nose. Nir was "severely beaten with truncheons" in November 2008, while Ben-Zion was "punched in the face after exiting his home" in January this year.

A Tel Aviv police source told the Jerusalem Post: "We think Topaz did it because he was rejected by them [the victims]. He wanted to be on TV and work with them. They said no."

Three other unnamed suspects have also been arrested over the incidents, two of whom appeared in court yesterday. The judge described them as "the operational arm, but not the initiators" of the beatings.

Topaz's lawyer described his client as in "total shock" over the affair. The star told Israeli TV last night: "Someone stupid and cruel is spreading these rumours." Police have, however, reportedly "used phone records to help link Topaz to the attacks".

The BBC notes that Topaz has a bit of previous on the rough-stuff front. In 1995, he defended his show by breaking the glasses of a critic who'd given him an unfavourable review. In 2003, on a TV show, he "bit the arm of a Latin American soap opera star".

In case you're wondering where Topaz honed his skills, he trained as an actor in London. ®

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