Film critic to replace Bettini

ROME — Italo film critic Gian Luigi Rondi, a former Venice topper long known to have a conservative bent, has been tapped to replace Goffredo Bettini as president of the Rome Film Festival.

Rondi, 86, heads Italy’s David di Donatello Awards, following a long illustrious career at the helm of many of the country’s highest film entities, perennially backed by Italy’s now defunct Christian Democrat establishment.

Rondi met with Rome’s recently elected right-wing mayor Gianni Alemanno on Wednesday. A press conference has been called for Monday to make Rondi’s appointment official.

Bettini, a high-ranking leftist pol, stepped down earlier this week in what he said was an attempt to save the three-year-old fest, which Alemanno had slammed as a handout to Hollywood during the leadup to the May vote.

Rondi’s rapport with Hollywood has always been good. He brought Hollywood movies back to the Lido when he was Venice’s artistic director between 1983 and 1986. Rondi headed the Lido’s parent org, the Venice Biennale, between 1993 and 1997, a period during which Gillo Pontecorvo, as artistic director forged strong ties between Venice and the Hollywood majors.

At this stage, it is unclear what Rondi’s stamp on Rome could be, beyond strengthening its link with the David awards, Italy’s highest national film nods.

“I hope that despite his age, Rondi will make innovative choices along the same lines as Bettini,” said “Il Divo” helmer Paolo Sorrentino.

Rondi is an old friend of Italo elder statesman Giulio Andreotti, the shady Christian Democrat pol, which “Il Divo” portrays. They both saw “Il Divo” recently at the private screening, which prompted Andreotti to call Sorrentino’s pic a “low blow.”

While Rondi’s appointment is widely considered a certainty, some insiders caution it is not yet a done deal.

In a typically Italian about-face, Rondi on Wednesday told reporters he was not interested in the Rome post. The mayor then coaxed him into accepting, according to Rome City reps and festival sources. A subsequent change of heart before Monday is still a possibility, albeit not likely.

Rondi’s appointment still needs to be ratified by the fest’s parent organization, the Fondazione Cinema per Roma, but that is considered a mere formality.

Rome’s upcoming edition will run Oct. 21-31.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more