The mould and the beautiful: Italian cheesemakers sue long-running US soap opera

An Italian consortium claims a scene in 'The Bold & the Beautiful' was damaging to their brand

Cheese, Italy, Parmigiano-Reggiano, The Bold and the Beautiful, CBS, Charlie Webber,

[Flickr/Caseificio di Marola]

After a soap opera character dismissed their cheese as an inferior product, the Italian producers of Grana Padano have asked the producers of the long-running show The Bold & the Beautiful to pay damages, claiming the show’s huge fan base has been misled.

In the episode of the show, broadcast last year, the comic relief character Charlie Webber, a bumbling security guard played by Dick Christie, is cooking a meal at home. Realising that he has mistakenly bought the hard Italian cheese Grada Padano in place of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Webber scolds himself for his mistake, tossing away everything he was cooking – a move which the cheese producers claim has damaged their brand.

After the episode was broadcast on Italian television, dubbed into Italian on the Mediaset channel, the legal team representing the Grana Padana Consortium filed a damages complaint against The Bold & the Beautiful, Italian newspaper Corriere dell Sera reported.

Actor Dick Christie has starred in The Bold & the Beautiful since 2013 [CBS]

“The screenwriting breaks US comparative advertising laws due to the disparaging tone and attitude the actor shows towards our product,” Stefano Berni, the director of the consortium, said.

The body’s legal team has not yet revealed what figure it expects the soap opera’s producers to fork over for their perceived slight, but given the wide reach of The Bold & the Beautiful around the world, the consortium described the joke as “especially unpleasant.”

The Bold & the Beautiful will celebrate its 30th year on the air in the US in 2017. The CBS soap opera, a sister show to The Young & the Restless, tells the story of the Forrester family and their fashion designing business. The show is broadcast every weekday in more than 100 countries around the world, with an estimated viewership of up to 500m people every day.

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

The consortium has also taken legal action before, claiming damages from the pornography website Pornhub when the cheese was featured in an advert, in which a man describes Parmigiano Reggiano as “the Pornhub Premium of cheeses.”

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