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Sanremo Festival – Touch of Hollywood Glamour

Jan 31st, 2009 | By | Category: Italian News

A charity founded by the U2’s  Bono is set to inject a dose of Hollywood glamour into the Sanremo Festival, organisers of Italy’s biggest musical event of the year.   Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Claudia Schiffer, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz are among stars lined up to show off their Italian language skills in short video appeals on behalf of One, a campaign and advocacy organisation that fights poverty worldwide.

Sanremo’s musical director, Gianmarco Mazzi, said organisers were ”very happy” when Bono contacted them with the idea, arguing that it rebuffed criticism that the festival’s glory days are now behind it.

”If an artist of world renown such as Bono asks for the Sanremo stage to launch a social appeal, it means that despite what all the critics say the festival is actually still alive and kicking,” he said.

”The stars will give a brief message in Italian to bring attention to world poverty in a series of video appeals that will be transmitted for the first time ever during the festival,” Mazzi continued.

He added that the appeal was particularly appropriate in view of Italy’s presidency of the Group of Eight this year and the upcoming G8 summit in Sardinia in July.

Bob Geldof, soccer star Thierry Henry, Andrea Bocelli and Bono himself are also expected to record messages for the appeal.

Long a part of Italian popular culture, the weeklong February showcase that ‘made’ songs and launched careers has been hit in recent years by a steady decline in ratings.

This year organisers hope to boost the festival’s appeal and have secured reclusive Italian singing legend Mina to open the show with a video tribute to Italian music.

Mina, 68, is reckoned by many the finest female pop singer Italy has produced, and Louis Armstrong once called her ”the greatest white singer in the world”.

Festival artistic producer and presenter Paolo Bonolis said Monday at a press conference that the famously retiring star had decided to ”help” the festival.

She last appeared on TV in 1974 and in public in 1978.

International names due to tread the stage in person include Jim Carrey, Annie Lennox and Hugh Hefner with his playboy bunnies, according to Bonolis.

Italian stars Jovanotti, Giorgia and Eros Ramazzotti will be among the home-grown talent.

This year’s festival, which runs February 17-21, has already come under fire from gay rights groups, who have threatened to disrupt the event if a song about a gay man ‘converting’ to heterosexuality is not pulled.

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