UPDATED, with X Factor statement: Following calls for Asia Argento’s ouster from the upcoming 12th cycle of X Factor Italy, the show’s producers have responded. This follows the New York Times report that the Italian actress-director sexually assaulted a 17-year-old man in 2013 and arranged a deal to pay him $380,000 over the incident.
Sky Italia and FremantleMedia Italy released a statement on Twitter Monday night saying they had read “with great attention and astonishment” the New York Times story and noted they did not choose Argento to be a judge for her commitment to the #MeToo campaign, nor for her personal positions, rather for her “musical skills and ability to manage a television role in a program of this kind.”
However, they added, “We want to be very clear: If what the New York Times writes” were to be confirmed, “this story would be completely incompatible with the ethical principles and values of Sky and therefore — in full agreement with FremantleMedia — we could only take note and cease the collaboration with Asia Argento.”
See the full statement (in Italian) below.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY AM: It was with great fanfare that FremantleMedia Italy and Sky Italia revealed in May that Asia Argento would star as a judge on the upcoming season of Sky Uno’s X Factor Italy. The xXx star at the time called it a “bittersweet” return to primetime television in the country, “where I was slut-shamed for months,” following allegations she made against Harvey Weinstein late last year. Today, however, there may be a question mark hanging over her participation in the series as revelations about accusations against the actress were reported by the New York Times on Sunday.
Late yesterday, the Times said Argento had arranged a deal to pay actor/musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused the Italian actress and filmmaker of sexually assaulting him when he was 17.
A spokesperson for FremantleMedia Italy today told Deadline the company had “no comment” on the evolving situation.
Argento has been the top Twitter trend all day in Italy where she has been set to appear on the local X Factor‘s 12th season beginning September 6. Argento was previously a judge on Rai’s dance format Forte Forte Forte and a contestant on the local version of Dancing With The Stars.
Some Twitter users in Italy are calling for Argento to be removed from the show. Author and public commentator Selvaggia Lucarelli wrote that if the “moral penalty applies to everyone,” Argento would be out at X Factor:
Journalist Andrea Conti lamented the production’s predicament:
Argento’s return to Italian TV would come following a period last year during which she said she left the country to escape a “climate of tension” and “victim-blaming” after she stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault last October. In an April opinion piece for The Guardian, Argento wrote, “When I spoke out about Weinstein, Italy was the only place where my story was not accepted or believed. Instead, my reputation was traduced, my story distorted, my credibility made hostage to smears.”
Back in May, Nils Hartmann, director of original productions at Sky Italia, said, “We are excited to welcome Asia to The X Factor family, where we are confident that the contribution of her musical culture and personality will be very important to the show.”
“We welcome all the [judges] of this new edition, but particularly Asia Argento, whom we are delighted to have on board,” added Gabriele Immirzi, CEO of FremantleMedia Italy, in May. “The X Factor 2018 will signal a more creative and productive renovation of the show, with the ambition to continue to grow and become more of a reference point for Italian and international music shows.”
Here’s the X Factor Italy statement: