Giancarlo Parretti, my mysterious
host at L'Circe, had become a movie mogul only recently.
In 1982,, he had been working for a tuna fish processing
factory in Hong Kong. Now, according to Variety, his
company, which controls Pathe in France and The Cannon
Group in Hollywood, is worth $1.5 billion. The two other
guests are my friend Mario Platero, an Italian journalist
in New York, and Parretti’s partner, Florio Fiorini.
Fiorini, a bear of a man, with a cherubic face, reminds
me of the character played by Robert Morley in the film
"Beat The Devil." I had come across his name in my investigation
into Calvi, “God’s Banker,” who in 1982 had been found
hanging from a rope under Blackfriar's bridge in London.
Just before Calvi’s mysterious death, Fiorino had offered
to rescue his bank.
He is short, bright-eyed and buoyant
in a clownish way. With exaggerated hand gestures, as
if he was leading an orchestra, he describes even before
the first course arrives, his recent purchases which
include a mansion in Beverly Hills with a walk-in steel
vault (that he is proud of), paintings by Picasso, Miro
and Goya, a Rolls Royce, a Gulfstream, Maderos, an Italian
restaurant in Hollywood, Tramps, a disco, and a private
satellite hook-up in LA to get Italian soccer games.
I explain I want to write an article
about him for Vanity Fair. “I love Tina Brown,” he answers,
what would you like to know? I ask about the career
path that brought him to Hollywood. "I am a Scorpio
and Scorpios make their own world". He had been born
on October 26, 1940 in Orvieto in Umbria, about 100
miles north of Rome. His father, a humble wine merchant,
had seen little need for a formal education, and at
the age of 17 he began his career as a waiter. During
the nineteen-sixties, he learned English, which he still
speaks with an Italian accent, working as a ship's steward
on the Queen Elizabeth. He then worked as a waiter at
the Savoy Hotel in London and an unnamed restaurant
in Sicily. He still seemed to relish those waiting days.
When the pasta course arrived on a chafing dish, Parretti
leapt up to help the Captain prepare it.
While Parretti was preparing our
pasta, I ask Fiorini about the Calvi affair. "It was
not so sinister," he answers with an angelic smile.
I asked Parretti about his plans.
“MGM,” he answered, "When I went there to visit my friend
Kirk Kerkorian, I offered him a billion dollars for
it. He’s thinking about it.” Why did he want MGM— a
studioless studio. He explained, without missing a beat,
“When I was there I became obsessed with the beautiful
girls in the lobby. Those girls are worth a billion--
at least Sex is the only worthwhile sport I know." He,
laughed uproariously at his own joke.
But I pointed out Kerkorian had
just announced that he was negotiating to sell MGM to
an Australian Company, Quintex. Parretti shrugged it
off, saying “they are trying to keep me out of Hollywood.”
He elaborated that he was opposed by the "Hollywood
Mafia." "They are all Jews. The Jews control it and
they don’t want an Italian. The Jews are out to stop
me, to destroy me." At that point, Fiorini, realizing
that I— as well as Mario Platero— were Jewish, began
nudging Parretti with his elbow. "I don't care,” Parretti
continued, “The Jews are brilliant, great people. All
that matters is to die in the arms of a beautiful woman."
At that point, some cigarette smoke
is drifting over from the cigarette of a heavy-jeweled
woman behind us. Like a matador, Parretti leaps up,
unfurls his dinner napkin, and with it waves the smoke
back in the face of the startled woman. "I don't like
to be interrupted," he says. "Tomorrow we fly to Rio
de Janeiro to buy Television Monte Carlo," he says,
rising to leave. He gives the waiters three bottles
of Tuscan wine."as presents" Dragging Fiorini with him,
he suggests we meet again at his studio in Hollywood.