This past Sunday, a New York Times report revealed that Asia Argento, a leading advocate for the #MeToo movement, arranged to pay child star Jimmy Bennett $380,000 over alleged sexual assault claims linked to a 2013 L.A. hotel meet-up when she was 37 and he was 17. She denied these claims. The 42-year-old actress/singer is slated to appear as a judge on X Factor Italy’s 2018 season, but given these allegations, will the Asia Argento X Factor gig work out as planned?
X Factor Italy is produced by FremantleMedia Italy for Sky Italia’s Uno channel, and the 2018 season will premiere on September 6. Argento joins Italian judges Fedez, Mara Maionchi and Manuel Agnelli, with host Alessandro Cattelan.
Deadline reports that she has previously been a judge on Forte Forte Forte and was also a contestant on Italy’s version of Dancing with the Stars.
In an op-ed for The Guardian in April, Argento wrote that the Italian community was the “only place” where her claims that Harvey Weinstein raped her in 1997 were looked down upon.
“The most brutal and vicious response to this flowering of female political thought and action is taking place in my home country, Italy, but the poison seeps out,” she wrote.
“Instead, my reputation was traduced, my story distorted, my credibility made hostage to smears,” she continued, later adding, “This relentless dehumanization in the Italian media eventually gave others beyond Italy the idea they could vilify and slander me with impunity also.”
FremantleMedia Italy and Sky Italia released a statement yesterday saying they would cut Argento from her role as a judge if the allegations against her were proven true.
Full Statement: Asia Argento X Factor Italy gig
— X FACTOR (@XFactor_Italia) August 20, 2018
The Twitter statement on the Asia Argento X Factor gig, as translated by The Hollywood Reporter, went as follows: “Sky Italia and FremantleMedia Italia have read today with great attention and in astonishment the news regarding Asia Argento published by the New York Times. It should be made clear that Sky Italia and Fremantle did not pick Asia Argento as a judge of X Factor Italy for her commitment to the #Metoo campaign, nor for her personal stances, but rather — as it has always been the case when it came to choose the judges of X Factor Italy — for her musical skills and ability to manage a television role in a show like this.”
“Skills and abilities widely proven during the show auditions, recorded in recent weeks, as the large audience attending them could easily confirm,” they continue. “That said, we want to be very clear: if the allegations reported by the New York Times today were to be confirmed, the issue would be absolutely inconsistent with Sky’s ethical principles and values and therefore — in full agreement with FremantleMedia — we would have no choice but to take note of it and put an end to the collaboration with Asia Argento.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says it’s looking into the allegations against Argento and is trying to contact Bennett and his representatives “in an effort to appropriately document any potential criminal allegations.” It has not, however, “located any police report alleging criminal activity within our jurisdiction in relation to this incident” to date.
So, will the Asia Argento X Factor Italy gig work out? As of now it’s happening as planned.