Singer indicted over TV show votes
Prosecutors have indicted a leading Israeli singer on charges of skewing the vote while judging the country's version of the Pop Idol singing contest, in a tangled tale of celebrities and suspected mobsters.
Suspicions first emerged that Margalit Tzanani conspired with crime kingpins to extort her manager, repaying them by advancing their interests in the entertainment industry.
Those suspicions, which have been avidly followed by the media, culminated today with the filing of an indictment against her.
The charge sheet alleged that Tzanani, a judge for the popular televised singing competition A Star Is Born, referred a contestant from the show to her agent, who she says agreed to represent the contestant and share a cut of the proceeds with her. But after a dispute with her agent over the agreement, Tzanani turned to a suspected crime boss to intimidate the agent into paying, according to the indictment.
In return for the suspected crime boss's services, she voted for a different contestant after he instructed her to do so in a text message during a live broadcast of the show, the indictment said.
Prosecutors said in a later episode, Tzanani voted for another contestant after his relative - an acquaintance of the alleged crime boss - called her from prison to ask for the vote. The contestant won third place but is not a suspect in the case.
The show's producers told Israeli media that there was no harm to A Star Is Born.
Tzanani and the suspected crime boss are being held in Israeli police custody.