ROME – In his first public appearance since being ousted as prime minister on Nov. 12, Silvio Berlusconi made a surprise appearance Tuesday night at the Rome premiere of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
Berlusconi did not speak to reporters before or after the film, though he did flash a smile and give a “thumbs up” sign when a reporter on the scene shouted to ask whether the billionaire media tycoon enjoyed the film.
Medusa, the film distribution company Berlusconi owns, will distribute the film. Medusa is the Italian distributor as well as co-producer of Nero Fiddled, the Rome-based follow-up to Midnight in Paris scheduled for release next year.
Italy is among the last countries to premiere Midnight in Paris, which first screened in Italy at the Turin Film Festival on Sunday and will hit cinemas nationwide starting Friday. Medusa said it believed the film would do well in the pre-Christmas season, a popular one for moviegoers in Italy.
Berlusconi has kept a relatively low profile since stepping down as prime minister, though he has weighed in on some key political issues facing successor Mario Monti.
Berlusconi has reinserted himself into the day-to-day operations of his media conglomerate Mediaset, Medusa’s parent company. Mediaset has recently indicated it is interested in taking control of reality television content producer Endemol, where it already owns a minority share.
The 75-year-old Berlusconi is also facing a raft of legal troubles alleging, among other things tax evasion, bribery, abuse of power, and paying a 17-year-old girl for sex. According to wire taps that have emerged recently, the 17-year-old girl, a Moroccan-born erotic dancer best known by the stage name “Ruby the Heart Stealer,” once asked Berlusconi for help in landing a role in Allen’s Rome-based Nero Fiddled. Berlusconi demurred.