Depiction of artist's sexuality draws controversy

Caravaggio is ruffling feathers on Italian TV.

A lavish skein on the life of the 17th century artist just reaped stellar ratings on pubcaster RAI. But the “Caravaggio” biopic is drawing fire from Italy’s gay community — and the Vatican — over how the maestro of chiaroscuro’s supposed homosexuality is depicted.

Advocacy group Arcigay slammed the $20 million telepic helmed by Angelo Longoni and shot by Vittorio Storaro, claiming it only vaguely suggests the Baroque painter may have been gay, unlike Brit helmer Derek Jarman‘s graphic 1986 “Caravaggio” feature, which left no room for doubt.

Meanwhile, powerful Italian bishops’ daily Avvenire is on a rampage against RAI for “pandering to the gay lobby,” as it put it. “Caravaggio was not a homosexual,” claim the incensed Italo bishops who found RAI’s tame treatment way too risque.

The good news for RAI is its megaskein — which RAI Trade recently sold to a dozen territories at Berlin’s EFM — debuted with a more than 25% primetime share both nights, even beating “Big Brother,” a regular ratings champ, on Mediaset.

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