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The flop TV

Big budgets and guests with an acclaimed popular consensus are not the only ingredients for a successful show if it lacks of originality and innovation, or if it does not speak the same language as the audience: the case of Cattelan

By Gianfranco Gatta

We still haven't realized the damage that the Late Show, hosted by David Letterman from August 1993 to May 2015, did to Italian television. In recent decades, generations of "new hosts" have tried to copy the format, trusting in the same success. Daniele Luttazzi, Fabio Volo, Fabio Fazio and last but not least Alessandro Cattelan. Luttazzi was certainly the most gifted but he got lost due to an excess of ... coprophagia, while Fazio, the poorest of them is the one who won the bet and this is part of the mysteries of television.

Volo has always considered TV a viaticum for his films and books, he never fully believed in it, unlike Cattelan who uses TV like Narciso used the mirror of the lake. He can't help it.

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He affirms himself on Sky1 with the program "E poi c’è Cattelan" and the title already gives the pulse of a boundless Ego; has the "misfortune" of winning the Premio Flaiano which opens the doors of critics to him without realizing that real success, on TV, is given by the numbers of viewers, not a niche channel with a couple of hundred thousand heads.

He is hailed as an innovator of language for young people, thanks to the platitudes stolen from the 1950s showman, things that in comparison to "Amici Miei" are pure Rock and Roll.

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Just as failure can be predicted, at the same time success cannot be guaranteed, despite an unlimited budget, a stellar cast and authoritative authors: it is an unwritten law of the show. Bringing Cattelan to Rai Uno was an easily predictable disaster. If the artistic choice falls on the cultural paucity of the current network management who loves to repeat the formula endlessly, taken from the lessons of Umberto Eco: "I love combining the high with the low", the extra budget economic choice made by the previous Chief Executive Officer and related Board of Directors is inexplicable. Notwithstanding, they granted the double external contract with an outlay of money with which they would have put on a show with Franck Sinatra, Sammy Davis jr, Dean Martin, Liza Minelli and the Berliner as Orchestra. Put Pippo Baudo as host and the share would reach 40% with 25/28 million spectators, glued to the TV. Except unwritten law. With that budget you make Mina "turn her head" who maybe (finally) says: "Yes!" Just to paraphrase Marcel Marceau in "The Last Madness" by Mel Brooks.

To be clear, such events bring young and old together in front of the television.

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Da grande”, the flop of Rai Uno which recorded 12.77% share, with 2,376,000 spectators went by accumulation, calling the well-known faces of the Network, who in theory should go at no cost or a little more and calling from the competition "a safe face” like Paolo Bonolis. And this would be the innovative language for young people? Mah!

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The failure seems to have given to the head of the director of Rai Uno who declares himself fully satisfied with the performance of his protégé, blaming the incredible success of Volley, broadcasted on Rai Tre. He says he is happy to have seen the ballet on TV again and finally a host who knows how to sing, proving once again that he lacks the basics of the show: the conductor, as per etymology, leads, otherwise call a showman, like Fiorello. And Cattelan is anything but Fiore. He praises the generosity of Conte and Clerici who know how to work as a team (therefore at no cost?) And he says he is convinced that he has taken the right path. He doesn't care about numbers, as told in "The Fox and the Grapes"!