Steven Spielberg's Niece Competes on 'The Voice' Israel (Exclusive Video)
While NBC's The Voice is set to introduce new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams this fall, the new season of The Voice Israel also has a big name in its midst: a Spielberg.
Jessica "Jessy" Katz, the 25-year-old daughter of Playmount Productions president Nancy Spielberg-Katz, sister of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg, is one of the hopefuls vying for a spot on the singing competition show's third season, which premieres in Israel next week. Nearly identical in format to the U.S. version, Katz participated in a blind audition, taking on Swedish singer Lykke Li's "I Follow Rivers."
The outcome of her audition and the reactions from the season three coaches -- Mizrahi (ethnic) pop artists Sarit Hadad and Shlomi Shabat, who won seasons one and two, respectively; rocker Aviv Geffen; and the latest addition, musician Mosh Ben Ari -- are as yet unknown.
A graduate of The University of Maryland, Katz has been showcasing her vocal chops in local Tel Aviv bars since making aliyah (immigrating) to the holy land three years ago. She regularly performs solo acoustic shows and gigs with Jessica Rabbit & the Blues Bunnies, a playful homage to the animated bombshell featured in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Worth noting: The cartoon songbird's vocals in the movie were sung by her famous uncle's wife at the time, actress Amy Irving. Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment was the film's production company, yet his niece clarifies she was not named after the sultry Mrs. Rabbit.
According to her official show bio, Katz is a devoted advocate of Israel, and her aliyah process came about with thoughts of enlisting in the Israel Defense Force's "Nahal" program, which integrates military service with core values of settling outlying areas throughout the country and volunteering to benefit social-welfare causes. However, her Zionistic story is not without precedent for the show. The freshman winner of The Voice Israel in 2012 was Jewish-Canadian Kathleen Reiter, who immigrated to Israel from her hometown of Montreal just days before auditioning in mid-2011.
The local edition of the Dutch series has been an outstanding performer for Channel 2 franchiser Reshet Broadcasting. Season one preliminary stage of blind auditions in January 2012 peaked with 43.4 percent ratings and 53.1 percent household share, and the finale averaged 33.2 percent ratings and 45.1 percent household share. Season 2 premiered in December 2012 to 35.5 percent ratings and 48.6 percent household share, with the March 2013 finale reveling in 39.6 percent ratings and 55.8 percent household share, which translates to over 1.1 million viewers.
Season 3 of The Voice Israel premieres locally Sunday, June 8.