Former movie mogul has high hopes with Telecom lawsuit

ROME — Having managed to stay afloat and avert the loss of his movie theaters to creditors, Italo movie mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori is now itching to boost his profile as an industry player with several projects in the pipeline and plans to get back into film distribution.

In an interview in his Rome office, a feisty Cecchi Gori was optimistic about the complicated legal and financial woes that have dogged him for four years following his ruinous ventures into TV and soccer.

“The problem is that the judicial process is slow in Italy. But in the end, I’m going to win. And now, that end is finally in sight,” Cecchi Gori said.

The onetime Italo industry dominator has high hopes of settling his long lawsuit with Telecom Italia, claiming this settlement could bring “hundreds of millions of Euros” into his group’s coffers.

The dispute revolves around his soured partnership with Telecom Italia in now defunct paybox Stream, subsequently absorbed by News Corp.’s Sky Italia.

Cecchi Gori also expressed confidence he will regain possession of his vast film library from Merrill Lynch, with which he has been entangled in a legal squabble since the early 1990s, when Merrill Lynch issued bonds tied to those rights.

Earlier this month a Rome court order allowed Cecchi Gori to retain his Rome movie theaters, which had been put on the block by an Italian creditor.

“The tide is turning. I think I will finally be able to stop dealing with lawyers and start thinking about making movies,” Cecchi Gori said.

In his group’s production pipeline is drama “The Dance of Victory,” based on a book by “Il postino” author Antonio Skarmeta, to be helmed in Chile by Ricky Tognazzi (“Excellent Cadavers”).

Cecchi Gori also holds rights to prizewinning Italo book “Il dolore perfetto,” by Ugo Ricciarelli, and said he has contracts with Italo auteurs Gianni Amelio and Francesca Archibugi and with horrormeister Dario Argento for upcoming projects.

Despite his shaky finances, in recent years Cecchi Gori has produced two pics per year released via Medusa. But he said he intends to release his next pics himself.

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