Oscar winner nabs 53.67% share

MILAN — Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful” set an Italian TV ratings record Monday, landing a 53.67% share and more than 16 million viewers in its primetime airing on RAI flagship channel RAI1.

The pic achieved the largest share ever for a film on TV, approaching the share earned by World Cup football final matches and yearly national pop music fest Sanremo.On Monday, “Life” garnered more than twice the share of “Grande Fratello,” the Italo version of the “Big Brother” reality skein aired by Mediaset’s leading channel Canale5.

“Grande Fratello” had a 21.03% share and just above 6 million viewers.

Not surprisingly, the ratings success elicited a warm response from the effusive Benigni, the pic’s star and helmer.

“Dear loving Italians, when I heard so many of you had fun and got touched with ‘Life Is Beautiful,’ I started jumping around like a kid in the fields,” Benigni said Tuesday. “I’m so happy of being Italian and I will keep on loving you.” Until Monday, the most popular movie on TV had been “The Name of the Rose,” the Jean Jacques Annaud medieval noir pic based on Umberto Eco’s bestseller. That pic, also aired by RAI1, reached 14.7 million viewers in 1988. “Rambo 2″ came after, with 14.6 million viewers, in the same year and on the same channel.

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