The Italian Almanac

Giulio Andreotti

Italian News - December 12

The grand old man of Italian politics does cell phone ads on television. The premier likes to write love songs. The mayor of Rome dubs a turkey’s voice in the Italian version of Disney’s “Chicken Little.”

Italian politicians, always keen on new ways to get noticed, have been plunging into showbiz. The trend has reached its pinnacle with Giulio Andreotti, seven-time premier, a symbol of the republic who helped write its postwar constitution and has been made a senator-for-life, one of Italy’s highest honors.

In his latest capacity, as star of a TV commercial for the 3 Italia mobile phone company, 86-year-old Andreotti sits in a plane while explaining how he listens to music on his third-generation mobile phone. “How trendy you are, Mr. Senator,” coos co-star Valeria Marini, a buxom Italian TV celebrity. “You think so?” Andreotti deadpans back.

“Politicians are obviously trying to be more affable, to show less of an official face,” said Aldo Grasso, Italy’s leading TV critic. “But that’s not what one asks of a politician.” Andreotti, who has previously done some print ads, said in an e-mail he was “intrigued” by the novelty of doing a TV commercial. He and the phone company said his undisclosed fee went to charity.