Vet helmer Avati reportedly in line for presidency

ROME — Top brass at Cinecitta Holdings are bracing for an earlier-than-expected ouster at a May 7 board meeting, as Prime Minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi continues to push political sympathizers into top cultural positions.

Current management’s mandate extended through the year, but early turnover is so widely anticipated that Cinecitta Holdings prexy Felice Laudadio recently took on directing duties for Europa Cinema, the annual September film event he founded in Viareggio, on top of the Taormina fest.

Laudadio, CEO Fabiano Fabiani and the entire board of Cinecitta Holding, the umbrella company that maintains a 25% stake in the largely privatized, autonomously run Rome studios, were due to stand down Dec. 31.

Changing of the guard

Respected veteran helmer Pupi Avati reportedly is in line for the presidency, which should cause little controversy. But Carlo Fusgagni, former director of pubcaster flagship channel RAI 1, is tipped to be CEO — a move expected to encounter film sector opposition for political reasons and because he lacks a solid film background.

The job is believed to have been offered to local Warner chief Paolo Ferrari and to Medusa exec Federico di Chio, both of whom declined.

Avati has long been expected to get a government position. The director’s name was one of several circulating as a possible artistic director of the Venice Film Festival to replace Alberto Barbera. That job eventually went to former Berlinale topper Moritz de Hadeln.

In addition to the Venice fest and Cinecitta Holding, Italy’s center-right government has made other controversial executive changes at pubcaster RAI, the National Film School, state film production-distribution unit Istituto Luce and international film promotion org Italia Cinema.

Angelo Guglielmi was nudged out as president of Istituto Luce in November; he was replaced by Cinecitta VP Antonio More as caretaker.

Political disagreements also forced the resignation of Italia Cinema president Luciana Castellina.

The future of both state orgs is uncertain, and rumors are circulating that they may be folded into Cinecitta Holding to be run by a single management.

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