ROME – As his political star fades, Silvio Berlusconi is set to be back in the spotlight with a high-profile documentary in the works based on many hours of video interviews by American journalist Alan Friedman, author of the upcoming book “Berlusconi: The Epic Story of the Billionaire Who Took Over Italy,” plus a possible TV series.
Italy’s Leone Film Group has inked a deal with Friedman, who is a former Financial Times and Wall Street Journal columnist, to acquire fifty-percent of global distribution rights to the docu and also an option to produce a fictionalised TV series based on Friedman’s book about Berlusconi’s rise from media mogul to running Italy as prime minister for three mandates.
“We are delighted to have purchased these rights,” enthused Andrea Leone, president of Leone Film Group, the company originally founded by Spaghetti Westerns master Sergio Leone.
The book “Berlusconi: The Epic Story” will be published in the U.S. in October by Hachette Group while Rizzoli is publishing in Italy. The authorised Berlusconi bio will come out in twenty countries. Hachette is touting the tome as comparable to Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio and David Frost’s interviews with Richard Nixon.
The documentary, working-titled “My Way: Berlusconi in his Own Words” is said to be based on more than 28 hours of video inerviews conducted by Friedman with Berlusconi and more than one hundred hours of other interviews and conversations he held over an 18-month period. The docu’s director has not been disclosed.
Berlusconi is known as a master media spinner. In an announcement to plug the book last June he said that for years he had turned down journalists who asked him to tell them his life story but instead “agreed to cooperate with Friedman because I trust him.”
Friedman claims in a statement that when he embarked on the Berlusconi project in March 2014 he told the scandal-worn TV-tycoon-turned pol he would not let him “off the hook or do him any favors.”