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RAI-2 web may take ‘Bold’ action

“Bold and the Beautiful” could end up in court. Sources close to RAI-2 say the network plans to take legal action against Bell Phillips Television Intl., producer of “Bold and the Beautiful,” following the announcement at Mipcom that Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest had acquired the latest episodes of the popular soap, now in itssecond season on RAI-2.

As announced at Mipcom, the deal raised plenty of eyebrows at the international TV market since Berlusconi’s acquisitions exec Daniele Lorenzano claims the wildy successful soap was wooed to Fininvest from competitor RAI-2 for a lower price–$ 17,000 per episode compared to RAI’s $ 20,000.

Bidding wars are the norm for the Cannes market, observers noted, but usually a show switches networks for more–not less –money.

“RAI-2 has strongly founded reason to believe that contractual irregularities are involved in this deal and has its lawyers on the case in L.A.,” said an insider who did not want to be named.

Per sources here in Rome, RAI-2 management maintains that Bell Phillips was not in a position to sell to Berlusconi to begin with.

Lorenzano claimed at Mipcom that RAI-2 never made Bell Phillips an offer to renew the series, but was dealing with New World Intl., which no longer holds Italian rights. But sources close to RAI-2 management insist they made Bell an offer to renew in February 1992 that was superior to the $ 17,000 price Lorenzano said he paid.

When Bell Phillips renewed its deal with New World Intl. for international sales on “B and B” in February 1992, Italian rights were not part of the contract. RAI-2 renewed its offer to Bell at that time, but the company, for whatever reason, preferred Berlusconi’s lower offer.

One reason why the “B and B” producer probably preferred Berlusconi’s deal is that it included plans to co-produce a new soap called “Coming of Age,” leading to speculation among insiders that the Bell and Berlusconi deal, overall, was very sweet indeed.

RAI-2 so far has aired 534 episodes of the soap in Italy, where actors Ron Moss and Colleen Dion draw screaming crowds of fans. The public network has some 600 episodes of the soap remaining. Berlusconi’s contract starts with 1,201st episode, tentatively skedded for fall 1994.

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