Mafia victims condemn Italy's 'Big Brother' TV show

Ferdinando Giordano, the son of a convicted mobster, is in the latest version of “Big Brother”


ROME – Families of victims of mob violence in Italy say that when Ferdinando Giordano, the son of a convicted mobster, agreed to appear on the latest version of the Big Brother television program, it was an offer they should have refused.

The National Association for Families of Mafia Victims, an advocacy group, said the program’s decision to exploit Giordano’s notoriety as the son of a well-known gagster was “shameful.” They argued his appearance would be a painful reminder to those who lost relatives to violence from organized crime families.

But the program, which is broadcast by Mediaset’s Canale 5, defended the choice, noting that the 30-year-old Giordano has no legal record and that “the son should not be forced to pay for the sins of his father.”

Mediaset is the broadcast giant controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Europe’s richest media baron.

Giordano is a shopkeeper from Salerno, just south of Naples. But his father, Matteo, was a ranking member of the Neapolitan Mafia, the Camorra. The elder Giordano served time in prison for assault, illegal possession of arms, intimidation, and property crimes. He did in 2002 after an illness.

Ferdinando Giordano said he only became close to his father near the end of the father’s life, when he was already ill.

The younger Giordano is not the only attention grabbing choice for the 11th season of the popular program. Another one of the 16 contestants is reportedly a gigolo. In recent seasons, the program also featured a transvestite and at least two professional strippers.

Big Brother, which is called Grande Fratello in Italian, is off to a strong start this season, with some 6 million viewers turning in for the first week’s program -- the strongest first week start for the franchise in Italy in four years.