Apr 12, 2013

Tom Avni: Israeli Teen Idol




Adaptations of Kipling's Jungle Book are becoming increasingly heterosexist.  An Israeli stage musical version from 1996, directed by Hanoch Rosen, was about as heterosexist as you can get, transforming the theme from "savagery and civilization" to "young love." But it did win some awards and transform 10-year old Tom Avni (Mowgli) into a major child star.


In 1997 he starred in the Hanukah play Pestigal, and in 1998 Super Boy, about a boy who gets super powers, fights crime, and gets the girl. In 2003, another Hanukah play, Tom Sawyer. The Jerusalem Post quipped "You know it's Hanukah time when Tom Avri's name is posted on billboards."

Tom moved into Israeli television in 2002, becoming the host of Channel 6, the Israeli Children's Network.  By this time he was 16 years old, and muscling up, and his bare chest and abs were being displayed all over Israeli teen magazines and tv guides.


After the requisite military service, Tom moved into tv with a starring role as teenage millionaire Daniel Harris in the children's sci-fi series HaShminiya ("The Eight") (2006-2007).  He also starred in the series Tom Avni 24/7 (2007), about his "real life" as the host of Channel 6, with a weird agent, crazy friends, and unlikely complications (here's a clip on youtube) .   He continued to display his six-pack abs upon request.











Bubot ("Dolls") (2007-08) was about a group of models, some of whom were gay (Tom's character was apparently bisexual). Some episodes are available on youtube, if you speak Hebrew.

Today Tom is starring in the comedy Sabri Maranan (2011-2012), about an extended family that meets every week for a traditional Shabbat dinner ("Sabri maranan" is the beginning of a blessing.)  It is being adapted for broadcast in the U.S. as Tribes.