Rosario Fiorello on Breathing New Life Into Italian Public TV and Infuriating Harvey Weinstein |

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It’s 7:30 a.m. connected a sunny May greeting successful Rome connected a broadside thoroughfare extracurricular nan studios of Italian authorities broadcaster Rai. A unrecorded assemblage opinionated down metallic fencing is watching a lithe group of nuns, 1 pinch a mustache, who slow creep retired from a statement of achromatic closet doors. 

They commencement dancing, hugging and pirouetting to a ballad belted retired by a young Tuscan popular singer. Then nan dancers, dressed successful Catholic sisters garb, statesman playing basketball.

Welcome to “Viva Rai 2!,” Italy’s reply to America’s greeting shows. It’s a section ratings arena conceived and conducted by volcanic Sicilian megastar Rosario Fiorello, who is breathing caller life into Italian tv astatine a clip erstwhile doomsayers are sounding nan decease knell of nationalist TV astir nan world.

Every greeting connected weekdays, erstwhile “Viva Rai 2!” airs connected nan pubcaster’s Rai 2 station, ratings soar from an mean 1.5% assemblage stock — for a rerun of nan 1980s TV bid “The Big Valley,” which precedes “Viva Rai 2!” — to an mean 15% share, dispersed crossed each demographics successful nan country. 

“At 7 a.m., you deliberation that money spent connected nan licence interest [the astir $100 interest Italians salary to watch Rai each year] is blessed,” La Repubblica TV professional Silvia Fumarola precocious wrote. “It’s a shame that location are excessively galore different hours during nan time erstwhile you deliberation it’s being thrown retired nan window.”

Outgoing Rai managing head Carlo Fuortes has lavished praise connected Fiorello for prompting nan authorities broadcaster to “break caller crushed and research caller tv languages” pinch “Viva Rai 2!” Aside from ratings, nan large novelty besides lies successful nan show’s trans-media aspect. 

Fiorello starts his activity time astatine 5.30 a.m., chit-chatting pinch fans complete espresso successful a barroom crossed nan street, arsenic cameras aerial their banter connected Instagram. Then “Viva Rai 2!” airs unrecorded connected Rai 2. But it besides plays connected Rai’s Raiplay streamer, gets Rai power play and past airs arsenic a rerun successful a late-night slot connected Rai’s flagship Rai 1 station.

The backbone of “Viva Rai 2!” consists of Fiorello and his squad riffing connected nan latest news, interspersed pinch gags and guests of various ilks. Italy’s premier curate Giorgia Meloni precocious called in, initially pretending to beryllium an imitator earlier revealing that she was nan existent deal. They activity retired of a solid studio, known arsenic “Il Glass,” adjacent to nan thoroughfare stage.

On nan time of nan Fellini-esque nuns ballet, Fiorello later sang Elton John’s “Your Song” while wearing a tuxedo and prancing astir pinch statuesque world creation prima Roberto Bolle (as shown successful nan video below). Then movie head Gabriele Muccino — who has made 2 movies pinch Will Smith (“The Pursuit of Happiness” and “Seven Pounds”) — recounted an anecdote from his Hollywood glory days astir visiting Tom Cruise’s mansion, wherever he said Cruise showed him a video of his girl Suri’s birth.

Fiorello himself erstwhile had a sensation of Hollywood, erstwhile he had a cameo successful Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” singing a Neapolitan opus connected stage, first pinch Jude Law and past pinch Matt Damon. But a decade later, he turned down an connection from Harvey Weinstein to play a akin domiciled successful “Nine,” which, for illustration “Ripley,” Weinstein produced.

Fiorello said to Variety astir giving Italian nationalist TV a jolt and why he will ne'er activity successful Hollywood.

How did you travel up pinch nan format? Were you inspired by American greeting shows?

Actually much by late-night shows than greeting ones. The American greeting show doesn’t person creation numbers connected nan street. But of people Jimmy Fallon does each kinds of stuff. I americium a immense instrumentality of his. And earlier him I was a immense instrumentality of David Letterman and Johnny Carson. I’ve ever thought nan American late-show hosts were nan greatest. They are truthful ingenious! They’ve done worldly that we didn’t moreover dream of. That said, nan worldly I’m doing now, I haven’t seen thing other for illustration it.

Why is “Viva Rai 2!” doing truthful well?

On Italian TV, nan worth of nan primetime slot is depreciating, and it’s not owed to nan content. It’s a matter of timing. After nan news, for economical reasons they now person crippled shows that past until 9.30 p.m. So primetime starts astatine 9:45 p.m. and location is nary longer abstraction for assortment shows pinch large stars for illustration location erstwhile was. So I thought: “Where tin we do a assortment show? Can we do it astatine 7 a.m.?” It’s a spot of a gamble, and we’ve been making it up arsenic we spell along. But what’s been happening is that kids are watching us, arsenic good arsenic older people. We’ve created our ain audience.

Courtesy MN

You often opportunity you are happy being an Italian prima and don’t attraction astir Hollywood. Why is that? 

I’ve seen nan measurement Hollywood productions usage Italian actors erstwhile they came to sprout successful Italy. I was offered a portion arsenic a edifice concierge successful “The Tourist” erstwhile they changeable successful Venice. And I said: “Why don’t you usage nan existent concierge astatine nan Danieli Hotel? He speaks much languages than I do.”

Did you bask your cameo successful “Talented Mr Ripley”?

Yes, that was fun. But past erstwhile I was asked to play a domiciled successful “Nine,” it was successful August and I was leery it would ruin my summer, knowing really agelong things return erstwhile nan Americans shoot. They sent maine nan book and it was a segment wherever Daniel Day Lewis dances pinch Sophia Loren while an elegant Italian vocalist [me] sings “Quando Quando Quando.” I figured I would hardly beryllium seen, truthful I politely declined. Then I sewage a missive from Harvey Weinstein saying: “Who do you deliberation you are? You will ne'er activity successful Hollywood again!” And I thought: “Who cares!”