The presenter: I was happy on the radio, I didn’t want to do TV. A lot of bigger things happened to me but my friends and family kept me who I was
Gerry Scotti he defines himself as a lucky boy, whose life was far more incredible than his dreams. By merit – but almost always also a little by chance – this former shy child from the suburbs of Milan he won a series of challenges which, however, he still struggles to define as such. «I had no spirit of revenge and I never wanted to become who I am: it was not my goal. Simply many things happened that seemed even to me beyond my reach.”
He is absolutely among the most popular men in Italy. But by mistake?
«I did the radio and it seemed to me the best. We have been listening to Linus for 30 years: if I hadn’t taken my path, today you would hear him and me, because that’s what I wanted to do, the radio”.
But then came television.
«Cecchetto was the first to take the trouble to tell me that what I was doing on the radio I could do, in the same way, on TV: he had invented radio vision with
. It seemed to me the maximum extension of my professionalism: I lived it as a prosthesis, as an illegal activity that sooner or later I would have condoned. I couldn’t wait to go back to doing just the radio.”
Instead, after a few years, he found himself also leading the Festivalbar.
«I can’t say that it happened to me by chance, but almost: Cecchetto had always offered me to do the telepromotions for him, so I spent the summer of 1987 behind the scenes of the Festivalbar. On the evening of the final, at the Verona Arena, in front of 30,000 people, I go out to advertise my chips. Salvetti, the patron of the event, had a small room one meter by two, from where he supervised everything. He hears the roar and yells: I told you not to let any singer go on stage. To which, embarrassed, they tell him that I went out to do the telepromotions. As soon as I finish, they call me blank: you have to go to Salvetti’s. Here, I thought, the disaster happened. I enter his room and he says: “Gerry Scotti? You will present the Festivalbar next year”». (Here the conductor is moved, it will happen other times
A total surprise.
“It wasn’t even in my hopes. This was the first major act against my foresight and also against my will.”
Had he really never imagined himself a presenter on TV? Not even as a child?
“I was a shy kid. If there was the end-of-year recital I certainly didn’t raise my hand to participate, not even to present, so to say that it was in my DNA would be telling a lie. When I was 12 my uncle Paolino gave me the jealous tape recorder, to record the songs that played on the radio: it was our Spotify. When I first heard my voice recorded on that instrument, it bothered me so much that I erased the tape.”
Yet it was an escalation…
«On TV I conducted music programs. One day, in the Mediaset parking lot, I meet Fatma Ruffini, the TV lady. She looks at me and says: “I have to talk to you; tomorrow at 11 in my office”. Once there, she asks me: “Are you happy doing what you do?”. “You don’t seem like it to me ma’am”, I reply. But she nods with her finger and says: “You are fit to be a family: next year you will lead
The Game of Nine
«Not at all. It’s a bit like someone who leads today
they said to go play the seven o’clock TV game. But I was also the right person for Vianello. For me it was terrible news: I didn’t feel up to it, I didn’t feel in the role. I had no idea, when I entered that studio, that for 35 years it would become my work, my life and the way all Italians knew me».
Have you made peace with this dimension today?
«Now is my moment of peace, in which I take a break and have fun (it’s on air every evening, on Canale 5, with “Caduta Libera”). Then I did a lot of other things, early evenings, and I kept getting legacies that went beyond my needs. When they proposed me
The Bullfight I thought
to a candid camera. Like the time they told me to do the sitcom with Delia Scala
Me and mom
Is it true that his friends are the same as always?
«I lost those from elementary school: I had moved from the southern suburbs to the northern suburbs of Milan and then it was like moving from Los Angeles to New York. But since then the friends have always been the same, yes. Those of the radio and very few of the TV have been added. Our game was to sit on the sidewalk and guess the color of the first car that would pass by Viale Zara. The fact that I was able to land among them every time kept me closely tied to the Gerry Scotti that I was and always have been».
If he had been born in central Milan would he have been the same person?
«I came close to downtown Milan: I went to the Carducci classical high school and it wasn’t exactly full of children of workers, on the contrary. It was just me and Mr. Villa (who has always been his press office). Our presence angered some retrograde professors. At my first difficulties in Greek and Latin they had told my mother: you had to send him to a professional school».
And his companions? As they were?
“They came to school with Maseratis, Jaguars, even a Lamborghini. Our outlet was to get engaged to the daughters of good Milan. We were well liked, I even went to do my homework with them. I went into these houses and saw butlers, six, seven rooms… I lived in two rooms plus service with my parents. Every now and then some classmates came to study with me and the next day, in class, everyone asked me: is there really cake in your house every day? I discovered that these children of the richest Milan had forms of hardship that I, the son of workers, did not have. My mom’s donut was never missing from me. And there I understood that the benefits of life are others».
Wasn’t he uncomfortable in the face of so much wealth?
“No, I’ve never experienced my difference in anger. I came from a humble but dignified environment, where if you went to the courtyard without a snack someone would offer you one and if you wanted to go for a bike ride but you didn’t have it, there was someone who would lend it to you. I have never lacked for anything while in those families of the more affluent social classes, I think a lot of things were lacking».
How did it go with the University?
«I wanted to study Architecture but it was one of the faculties most on the barricades at the time, always busy. I see my dad at the Polytechnic, ready to enroll: there were kids with joints on the stairs, billboards with unreferable phrases. My father just said, “Don’t do this to me” (and, once again, his voice breaks,
.). He thought of all the sacrifices to make me go to high school … So, after a family reunion with my uncles, I opted for law on a vote. I would have become a notary, I arrived at two exams from the thesis ».
Then the road took another course. Speaking of crossroads: could he ever become an actor?
«At a certain point in the upper floors of Mediaset they had decided to let me do fiction. The sitcom had arrived
then a Christmas film with Banfi… It was painful to give up: I liked acting even if it was another job».
“Two. Enzo Garinei, knowing that my hero is Johnny Dorelli, asked me to make a big one
Add a seat at the table
. It seemed like a huge thing to me and I didn’t even have the courage to answer him, I don’t forgive myself. Another great who had invented something for me was Bud Spencer: I would have paid, even in that case, to accept but they were offers that would have taken months away from me, how could I? But I have nothing I’m ashamed of or that I wouldn’t do again.”
«Oh no, I was talking about my profession. When I accepted to be the candidate of the young socialists of Milan – without being a party member – I didn’t expect to get 10,000 votes. Like I didn’t think they didn’t give me anything to do, which appalled me. If in my career I feel I have received a lot because I have given a lot, in my political experience I have received little because I have given little. Then, for ten years I never went to the condominium meetings and I never voted again. I was disgusted.”
Have you resumed voting now?
«Yes, but I lived that experience badly. I’m left with the famous thousand euro pension that I want to give up: I’ve already told three prime ministers and I’ll tell Giorgia Meloni as well. They suggest I give them to charity: I got there. But I wish I didn’t have to withdraw them. Since I’ve been talking about it, do you know how many other former ladies have written to me to join this idea? Zero”.
Say: is there cake every day at your house today?
“There is, there is. When I was forty, my parents died in a short time and my divorce followed. All the figurines of the nativity scene that represented my concept of family seemed to have burned suddenly. Then, together with my friends, my son and the family that I rebuilt with Gabriella and her children, I managed to carry on the values I believe in. In January, Edoardo will make me a grandfather again and I am recognized as a father figure even by my partner’s children: I’m the troublemaker who says to turn off the light or stop the water from flowing in the house. Now they are big, but how many nights have I been awake waiting for one or the other to come back… they are my lifeline, they make me feel like a living man and an ordinary person».
Why didn’t Gabriella Perino become his wife?
«We are studying (laughs). I don’t know how many years they would have been able to stay with a nationally popular man like me, I know that I absolutely needed a woman like her. She doesn’t like clamor, it almost annoys her.’
The best compliment they pay you?
«Until a few years ago it was that I was how I appeared on TV. Today more and more kids tell me: we grew up with you (teary eyes). They make me feel like I have a huge family.”
November 24, 2022 (change November 24, 2022 | 16:25)
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