While the need for yet more reality television series is debatable, the Israeli versions of the X Factor and the new Rising Star talent show are already drawing attention for their multicultural – if not overly produced – lineups.

Israel gets the X Factor


Two videos from the auditions rocketed to viral status upon airing – X Factor‘s Rose Osang Fostanes and Rising Star‘s The Amazing Rabbis are racking up the social media hits.

Both shows had major buzz before even airing.

The Simon Cowell created X Factor television music competition has taken over the world and is now making its debut in Israel. The four judges are popular Israeli musicians who have made strides abroad – Ivri Lider, Shiri Maimon, Rami Fortis and Moshe Peretz. The show’s host is supermodel Bar Refaeli.

“I’m glad that we finally got X Factor coming to Israel,” Cowell says in a promotional video for the show.

The first auditions served up the bizarre mix crucial to the success of a show: An 11-member religious boy band, a Colombian new immigrant, a flamboyant teenager, a pregnant singer-songwriter, a teen with autism, a bad-tempered provocateur, and a Filipina caregiver.

It was the caregiver – part of a community not usually given the media spotlight in Israel unless something goes wrong – who stole the first episode. Rose Osang Fostanes, 46, belted out Shirley Bassey’s ‘This is My Life’ – a song that couldn’t have been scripted better and one that reflects the predicament of so many foreign workers who go elsewhere in order to support their families back home.

Fostanes had the audience and judges on their feet. Her first week on YouTube brought in almost 20,000 viewers.

Meanwhile, Rising Star — the Israeli designed talent show that allows viewers to vote for a live performance in real time – served up The Amazing Rabbis.  Jerusalem brothers Aryeh and Gil Gat wowed local audiences and the international media world with their rendition of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel – and counted over 400,000 YouTube hits in less than two weeks.

In addition to the singing rabbis, the show has created a buzz of its own and recently sold its format to companies in France, Scandinavia, Russia and Germany at MIPCOM, the annual entertainment and TV market held in Cannes.