Italians call him SuperPippo. But the smooth Sicilian showman proved far from invincible, as his 47-year stint on the national airwaves came to a halt last week when RAI sacked the Italo tube icon.
Tension between the 68-year-old Pippo Baudo and the pubcaster had been brewing for months, with Baudo — who was under contract through 2005 — idle without a show of his own for more than a year and clamoring to get back on the air.
“RAI doesn’t love me, they don’t respect me, and they won’t let me work,” the prima donna-ish presenter lamented to reporters in July, in an attempt to rally public support.
Baudo claimed then that the pubcaster’s prexy Flavio Cattaneo and RAI-1 topper Fabrizio Del Noce — both of whom were installed by Silvio Berlusconi‘s government — were “mobbing” him, and threatened a lawsuit.
But Baudo’s attempt to use his popularity as ammunition against his bosses backfired. RAI terminated Baudo’s contract, claiming he’d breached a clause forbidding public criticism of the company by its employees.
The feisty presenter went on to accuse RAI’s management of “ethnic cleansing,” as he put it, claiming the web’s older stars are being cast aside “because they remind everyone of a quality level of the past, which they are unable to match.”
“Baudo has played an important part in Italian television, but Italian television will continue without him,” Cattaneo curtly told reporters after ending his contract.
SuperPippo vows to fight the firing in court.