The puppet masters of Italian politics

February 11, 2013

Rome, Italy

By Tony Gentile

I have never before seen an electoral campaign based solely on the appearance of the main political leaders on television talk shows.

After disappearing from the national stage for about a year former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi now enters the houses of Italians every day, more than once a day, on the screens broadcast by the biggest TV channels. The same is happening with the others leaders including outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.

They invade our television sets so much that one of the most important Italian satirical show decided to produce a special edition of the program called “Gli Sgommati, elektion edition”, produced by Palomar and broadcast by Sky.

I went to the studio to follow a day of filming and was really impressed by the job they were doing and entertained by their funny gags.

Bersani, Monti, Berlusconi, and other Italian political leaders and VIP were transformed in to big rubber puppets operated by actors. Each character was moved by three actors. One moved the body, the head and the mouth. The second moved only the hands and the third the eyes, pupils and eyelids. They moved simultaneously.

At the beginning of the day the authors decided the theme of the episode and wrote the dialogue. Some actors played and recorded the voices of the characters and when the audio was ready the puppets went in to the studio, fully dressed and ready to film the new scene in front of a green screen. When all the scenes were ready a graphic operator filled in the right background and finalized the scene that would be edited by the director.

At the end of the day the result was a 30 minute funny satirical show in which all the political leaders were made fun of for what they said during the electoral campaign.

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