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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 03:32 GMT 04:32 UK
Too sexy for Italian television
By Suzanne Bush
Rome

After decades of weather bulletins presented by military colonels in full uniform, Italian television got its first weather girls last September.

Eleonora Pedron
Eleonora Pedron was suspended from Rete 4 after doing a raunchy magazine spread
But the outlook does not seem too bright for the first to hit the airwaves, a former Miss Italy.

She has already run into trouble for being too sexy.

Italian TV is infamous for its scantily-clad girls, who are a regular feature - dancing, presenting or just looking pretty - usually alongside a much older, less attractive male presenter.

But Eleonora Pedron, 21, proved there is such a thing as too sexy for Italian TV when she was suspended for doing a rather raunchy magazine spread in Capital magazine, sporting only a G-string.

According to Emilio Fede, presenter and editor of the news on TV channel Rete 4, the weather should be serious. Pleasing and entertaining - but not sexy.

Picture: Max Salvaggio/Corona's, published by kind permission of Capital
The poses proved too much for Ms Pedron's boss. Picture: Max Salvaggio/Corona's by kind permission of Capital
"The only thing that upset him is that he had an image of me as a nice, quiet girl," Ms Pedron explained.

"And then he found himself looking at photos which were rather different to those I've done before.

"I told him, 'Look, I don't think four photos change my character, or my behaviour. I'm still the same. I don't change'", she said.

Weather presenting was Ms Pedron's first job in television - and her first bulletins made somewhat uncomfortable viewing.

Cheery presence

More than six months on it is clear she is not yet completely at home between the camera and the weather map. But she has a cheerful, smiley manner which brightens up even the dullest forecast in a way even the most-loved military meteorologists do not quite manage.

The bulletin is always rounded off with some kind of proverb.

Two weeks ago, on one of her first programmes after she returned from her "suspension", Ms Pedron asked Mr Fede how many marks out of 10 it was worth.

Italian meteorologist
Italians have traditionally got their forecasts from military meteorologists
"Eleven?" she asked hopefully. But she was met with a look of disgust, and a disparaging "two".

However, Ms Pedron insisted he was joking, and that everything was fine between them now.

Mr Fede may want his weather presenter to be less sexy and more serious, but it could be argued that he himself is lacking in credibility.

He is often referred to as "Emilio Fido" for his lapdog-like behaviour towards Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also owns the channel Rete 4.

Just minutes before the "marks out of 10" exchange he devoted a significant amount of airtime to yet another outburst in defence of his beloved leader and boss.

Earlier this week, a leading television journalist in Italy resigned from her job, after criticising Mr Berlusconi over his media influence.

Future replacements

The longer-term forecast for Ms Pedron's career is a little hazy.

The last Miss Italy may have turned out to be too sexy for him, but Mr Fede is now eyeing up her successor as Miss Italy, Francesca Chillemi, as a future Miss Weather.

Obviously, she is not considered quite as sexy as Ms Pedron.

Not that he would have any trouble finding another attractive girl if Ms Chillemi, 18, were to say no.

Francesca Chillemi
Francesca Chillemi may be a future contender for the weather girl job
There are scores of them lining up for TV fame, regardless of how much - or how little - they may be expected to wear.

One of Italy's most popular programmes is Striscia la Notizia or Strip the News - no, not 'strip' in that sense.

The show is 30 minutes of Italian prime time six nights a week, which investigates complaints made by callers, and plays funny out-takes from the last 24 hours of Italian television.

Even this features two girls, usually dressed in a small top, even smaller skirt and knee-high boots, who dance on the desk at regular intervals.

These two 'Veline', as they are known in Italy, will soon to be replaced. Even finding their replacements has become big business.

Last time round more than 10,000 girls applied. This time, as before, they will be auditioned throughout the summer and the auditions form their own show, which is broadcast every night after Striscia la Notizia.

The show will naturally pull in even more ratings and sponsors for Canale 5, another of Mr Berlusconi's channels.

'Vulgar dances'

Over on state TV Rai, even the presenter of an entertainment programme - which covers the progress of the Serie A football league every Sunday afternoon - often struggles on camera to stay in her incredibly low cut tops.

And, like many programmes on Italian television, she kicks off with an obligatory song, accompanied by a troupe of usually scantily-clad dancers.

Emanuela Rossi, 23, now works as a TV presenter, but until last year she was a dancer on another Rai variety-type show where the outfits were usually on the skimpy side.

"Initially I was a bit frightened and embarrassed because they were really short outfits, very exposing," she said.

But that was nothing compared to some other programmes, she added.

If it's a funny, entertaining setting which isn't vulgar, I accept the revealing clothes
Emanuela Rossi
"In some transmissions there are indecent clothes, like the one where the dances were really vulgar - and in this context it was very trashy.

"But if it's a funny, entertaining setting which isn't vulgar, I accept the revealing clothes," she said.

'Terrible lack of ideas'

Men in many countries would surely be more than happy to see so much flesh on show on their screens - but why do Italian channels offer so much more than those in other countries?

There are two reasons, according to Professor Michele Sorice, who teaches History of Radio and Television at Rome's main university.

"On one hand the TV variety programmes come largely from Italy's show tradition, which has always featured half-naked dancers," he said.

"On the other hand it comes from a terrible lack of ideas," he added.

But things could soon start to change.

Mr Sorice believes viewers are already sick of these programmes. Surveys show they watch, but criticise them harshly.

"I think even Italians are a bit bored with always seeing undressed women on the television," Mr Sorice said.

"The proof of this is in the fact that the biggest hits on Italian TV in recent months have actually been the period dramas."


SEE ALSO:
Top Italian TV news reader quits
28 Apr 04  |  Europe
Net news to bare all on TV
07 Sep 01  |  Entertainment
Storm gathers around Italian TV
15 Feb 02  |  Europe


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