Cheesed-off Italy wants pay-out over US soap opera gag

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Producers of Grana Padano cheese have filed a complaint against the US soap opera, 'The Bold and the Beautiful'. Photo: Annabelle Orozco/Flickr
15:16 CEST+02:00
Producers of Italian hard cheese Grana Padano have told those behind the long-running US soap-opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, to pay damages after their product was the butt of a cheesy joke in a scene broadcast last year.

In the scene, the show's protagonist, Charlie Webber, cooks a meal at home but halfway through whipping up his dish, Webber realizes he has bought Grana Padano cheese instead of its more famous cousin, Parmigiano Reggiano.

At this point, Webber humorously berates himself for having bought the wrong cheese and entirely abandons his cookery project, Corriere dell Sera reported.

Given the show's enduring popularity and huge fanbase, Grana Padano producers were unhappy with the gag, which they feel has damaged their brand.

After checking that the Italian channel Mediaset, which broadcasts the show in Italy, had faithfully dubbed the scene, lawyers for the Grana Padana Consortium filed a damages complaint against the show.

“The screenwriting breaks US comparative advertizing laws due to the disparaging tone and attitude the actor shows towards our product,” the consortium's director, Stefano Berni, told Corriere.

It is not known how much compensation the consortium is asking for, but Berni suggested that given the number of people who tune in to the show daily, the blunder was “especially unpleasant".

The soap opera, which follows the fortunes of a Los Angeles fashion house, is produced by CBS and has been running since 1987.

It is broadcast in over 100 countries and reaches 300-500 million viewers each day.

“The problem is that Grana Padano, much like 'The Bold and the Beautiful', is a global product and the negative message could easily have reached hundreds of millions of people,” Berni added.

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The US is currently the second biggest foreign market for Grana Padano cheese in the world after Germany, where the show is also broadcast.

Italy exports more than €750 million worth of the cheese annually. 

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