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ROME – The dramatic fall of controversial Italian film producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori gained more momentum Tuesday, when prosecutors asked for a 10-year prison term for the embattled 70-year-old in connection with the €600 million ($770 million) collapse of his Finmavi holding company.
The development is the latest in a long series of setbacks for the one-time billionaire from Florence, whose production credits include Oscar winners Il Postino from Michael Radford, Roberto Benigni’s La Vita e’ Bella (Life Is Beautiful), and Gabriele Salvatores’ Mediterraneo.
In February, Cecchi Gori was sentenced to six years behind bars and fined €11.5 million ($14.7 million) in connection with the illegal bankruptcy of production company Safin Cinematografica. In recent years, he’s been forced to sell off assets including most of the sprawling Cecchi Gori film archive — partially acquired by media tycoon and former Italian prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — and the Adriano in Rome, Italy’s busiest cinema, now run by producer Massimo Ferrero. Cecchi Gori has plotted various comebacks along the way, but none has gained much traction.
In the latest case, prosecutors asked for eight years in prison for former Cecchi Gori crony Luigi Barone (who was also charged in February), charging the duo siphoned money from Finmavi in order to fund pet projects and to bankroll lavish personal expenses.
Prosecutors also said that Cecchi Gori was a flight risk and asked that he be kept in custody until a verdict is reached. But the judge allowed him to return home. The latest trial will continue for several weeks, according to Italian media reports, with a verdict expected in June.
For his part, Cecchi Gori claims he is innocent and says the case is part of a vendetta against him.
For years, the Cecchi Gori Group was a dominant player in the Italian media and entertainment industry, with stakes in television and film production and distribution.
Cecchi Gori is the son of iconic producer Mario Cecchi Gori, who died in 1993 at age 72. Most of the younger Cecchi Gori’s best-known credits were co-productions with his father. He has had a hand in producing about 50 films on his own, though none since 2008, when he made Federico Moccia’s Scusami ma ti chiamo amore (Sorry If I Love You), which starred Raoul Bova as a successful executive who falls in love with a woman 20 years his junior.
Cecchi Gori also had a production credit for the 2009 film Everybody’s Fine, which starred Robert De Niro as a melancholy widower. The film was a remake of the 1990 Italian-language drama Stanno tutti bene (Everybody’s Fine), directed by Oscar winner Giuseppe Tornatore and starring Italian icon Marcello Mastroianni in the role of the widower. Cecchi Gori was given a production credit for the 2009 version only because he co-produced the original.
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