Supermodel Bar Refaeli to Host ‘X Factor’ Israel

After weeks of speculation, Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli has been named host of the upcoming edition of Israel's The X Factor.

It marks the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl's local TV hosting debut, following a 2008 one-off gig on Bravo's Tommy Hilfiger Presents Ironic Iconic America and 2012's Million Dollar Shooting Star model casting reality show on Germany’s Sat. 1 network.

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Following huge ratings success with Israel's version of The Voice, which premiered in Jan. 2012, channel 2 network Reshet Broadcasting acquired rights for the FremantleMedia format last year, which is set to make its debut this fall.

Refaeli’s estimated salary is reported to be upwards of 1 million NIS, which is roughly $270,000. This would make her the highest paid talent on the show, well above recently announced judges Rami Fortis, a veteran Israeli rocker, and ethnic-pop sensation Moshe Peretz. In the past week, pop star Ivri Lider was also added to the mix. Lider has made a name for himself as a solo artist, while internationally in 2011 he debuted his latest effort as one half of an electro-pop duo TYP, The Young Professionals, which was signed to Live Nation in March 2012.

Per media reports in Israel, the fourth chair at the judges table is slated for powerhouse balladeer Shiri Maimon.

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Having graced the covers of multiple fashion magazines around the world, the 27-year-old Refaeli has become one of Israel’s best known exports, helped along by an appearance atop Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100 list in 2012 and her five-year relationship with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The Hod Hasharon-born beauty has also been dabbling with acting in the past couple of years.

Preliminary auditions for the freshman season of Israel’s The X Factor are already underway. To promote the show, ads featuring show creator Simon Cowell are on heavy rotation on Israeli television. They also serve as a reminder of the show's original star. Watch one of the TV spots here.

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David Caspi