ROME — Beleagured Italian movie mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori is attempting a comeback from Hollywood by tapping brand recovery expert Niels Juul as temporary CEO of Los Angeles-based Cecchi Gori Pictures.
Juul, a partner in international brand recovery firm Nofatego, will be based at Paramount Studios with a mandate to restructure operations at Cecchi Gori, which until the mid-1990s was Italy’s top production and distribution outfit and now intends to focus on producing films in the U.S. and Italy.
Cecchi Gori’s Finmavi company is currently battered by a long list of legal woes, including bankruptcy proceedings in Italy. Last week a Rome bankruptcy court set Euros 17.5 million ($23 million) as the base price to auction off the 300-title Cecchi Gori library, which includes Oscar winners “Life Is Beautiful,” “Il Postino” and classic Vittorio Gassman starrer “Il Sorpasso” (The Easy Life).
Last month a Manhattan condominium owned by Vittorio Cecchi Gori was sold in a foreclosure auction for $33.2 million.
His group began its downward spiral in the mid-1990s when it branched out from film into TV and acquired the A.C. Fiorentina soccer club, which went belly up in 2001. Cecchi Gori has since been charged of fraudulent bankruptcy, and was even briefly incarcerated for this in 2008, though he has always maintained his innocence.
That year Cecchi Gori produced hit teen romancer “Scusa se ti chiamo amore,” proving that he had not lost his shepherding touch.
Cecchi Gori was most recently among producers of Robert De Niro starrer “Everybody’s Fine,” the U.S. remake of a Cecchi Gori pic helmed by Giuseppe Tornatore. His company, among other properties, holds rights to “Silence,” the tale of a 17th century Jesuit missionary by Japanese author Shusako Endo, which Martin Scorsese has reportedly long been looking to direct, and which Cecchi Gori and Juul are in talks to co-produce.
Cecchi Gori Pictures also owns the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, which is currently under renovation.