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Variety TV

“Rai of everything, more”

By Gianfranco Gatta

If the walls of via Teulada, more precisely those of the Rai Studio Uno, could talk, they would tell things that would make the wrists of many stars of the Italian show tremble; whims, quarrels, outbursts, amorous intrigues, fights, sex in the dressing rooms or in the elevators, in short, “Rai of everything, more”.

Let's talk about the golden years of the Variety. What you saw on TV, a world in black and white made of sparkling lights, futuristic costumes and exceptional performances, was the result of hard work during the rehearsal days before recording. Nothing was live, everything was tried and tried until exhaustion; It was only natural that sometimes they jumped their nerves or sought itchy chills.

The fundamental ingredients of a television variety, as we know, are: a large orchestra, a substantial dance troupe, one or two “Mattatori” to present and prestigious guests, singers and comedians.

Mina, Raffaella Carrà, Alberto Lupo, Johnny Dorelli, Delia Scala, Loretta Goggi, are among the many showmen of the past along with comedians such as Walter Chiari, Gino Bramieri, Nino Taranto and many others. How not to mention Alighiero Noschese and the very young Sylvie Vartan, former wife of the French legend Johnny Hallyday.

The Kessler twins and the BlueBelles were the flagship of the ballets, Gorni Kramer, Bruno Canfora, Lelio Luttazzi and others were the great conductors of the prestigious three Rai Orchestras (Milan, Turin and Rome).

It is said that when Frank Sinatra was a guest in Milan, he arrived in the studio for rehearsals and turned to the Milanese Orchestra with arrogance: “Gentlemen, my time is precious and usually I don’t do mistakes”. The first was good and “Blue Eyes”, amazed, came down from the stage applauding the professors. Not without taking away the inevitable bottle of "Jack Daniel's", placed on the piano and required in every contract.

To manage a cast made up of many big bits, endowed with great talent and edgy character, a greater caliber in directing was needed, one that dictated the times, knew how to impose and mediate at the same time, but above all who knew how to give elegance to the whole ; the perfect name was that of Antonello Falqui.

Many “professors” say that, as a director, Falqui was on television as Fellini was in the cinema, nothing more wrong; apart from the fact that any comparison is out of place, but if it really urges to make a comparison, then the equation in question must be done with Visconti. Both were obsessed with detail, perfectionists to the point of exhaustion, faithful to the script, mathematicians in the shots. Fellini was something else, he was the fantasy in power!

All three had one thing in common: their products cost a lot, a bang! And if for the two filmmakers, time would have paid off their producers, for Falqui and Rai, time ran out with the broadcast. With the economic crises that followed, that type of Variety became an unsustainable cost. As did the three orchestras, choirs, corps de ballet and many other professional figures swept away. An artisan world, which did not have time to become an industry and which left no heirs.

The usual professors say that the tastes of the public have changed, it is a pity that to disprove them there are programs like “Techetechetè” that continually reproduce large clips of those shows so full of glamor, filling them up with ratings.

The evolution of the classic variety is: “One Man Show”. When you have talents like Fiorello, Massimo Ranieri, Giorgio Panariello and very few others, you have the opportunity to focus the show on their performances and on a few guests, perhaps some international, with whom to duet. Sparse scenography, very small orchestra, no dance troupe, at most a quartet for short “turn the page” curtains, a tuxedo for costume and music, many covers together with some monologues and rare moments of comedy.

If the light was the chromatic dominant of the black and white variety, darkness is the dominant of the color one; an omen from “Fall of the Gods”. The real problem is when the Talents begin to fail who, alone, can hold a show of almost three hours, live in addition.

Apart from Ranieri, who repeats the usual lineup, with Fiorello tired and squeezed out of Sanremo, with Panariello in total artistic crisis today, in Italy, there is no one able to support a "One Man Show". The attempts with Mika and Virginia Raffaele have had excellent reviews, without filling up with ratings; worse went the “room and kitchen monographs”, on RaiUno, with Fiorella Mannoia, Patty Pravo and Loredana Bertè.

Not to mention the delirium revolved around the cartoon “Adrian” and the alleged and never realized show by Adriano Celentano, on Canale5.

There would be Maurizio Crozza, today the best Italian actor, who at the time of La7, made a program, “Crozza Italia”, which if transported on a flagship network and with adequate means, could have covered a void that is now difficult to fill. Unfortunately it has taken a drift from which it will be difficult to go back.

Sometimes the agents of the artists, out of greed, are their misfortune.

Finally, there is the latest mystification of those RaiUno geniuses who pass off as Variety what in the jargon, from the educated ones, is called “Musical Emotainment”.

“Canzone Segreta”, Friday RaiUno, is not a Show but just the umpteenth repetition or variation as it is fashionable to say, of "Caramba che Sorpresa"; in turn a particle of that forge of ideas that was “Portobello”, by Enzo Tortora.

It is a mix of guests, famous professionals and of all kinds, sitting on an armchair and used, through the song of their life, to arouse emotions in the viewer through their fake surprise in observing a succession of films, photographs and projections that retrace the most important moments of their life. Everything is consumed with embarrassing long times. An afternoon Talk game!

And it is a pity to have burnt a talent like Serena Rossi, an excellent actress and excellent singer, who lets herself go to useless Neapolitan cadences.

This direction lacks precisely the fundamentals on what a great Show means: you do not send your Star on video with a black dress and light-colored shoes, as even at the Piazza delle Erbe market.