If pressed, most people would have a difficult time drawing immediate connections between the caves and pleasant surroundings of south-central Kentucky and the sometimes chaotic world of Italian television. As of late, there is now a rather compelling connection between the two in the form of the Western Kentucky University mascot, Big Red, and a popular Italian television character, Gabibbo. The two creatures appear to bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, and the lawyers for Western Kentucky University (and the company that controls the Big Red trademark) have travelled to Italy to file suit against Mediaset, the Italian television company that produces the satirical television show "Striscia la Notizia" (which translates roughly as Stretching the News) on which Gabibbo has appeared since 1990. There is potentially quite a bit of money at stake, as Gabibbo has been a famous television character in Italy for more than a decade, and has had several chart-topping musical releases. In yet another strange turn of events for the case, this week Mediaset announced that it plans to countersue Steve Crossland (the head of the company that handles the Big Red trademark for Western Kentucky University) for defamation. Western Kentucky University may also have some potentially valuable evidence based on an interview given by Gabibbo's creator, Antonio Ricci, to the Italian magazine Novella 2000 in February 1991. In the interview Ricci noted that the idea for the lovable red giant "...began with a photo, just as happens with real adoptions. There was this mascot, his name was Big Red, who was the mascot of a basketball team in America. The team is Western Kentucky University." Regardless of this fact, it may be some time before the case is heard in Italian court, as a decision was made this Thursday to delay a preliminary hearing for one month.
The first link leads to a fine piece from the New York Times business section that gives some background to the context about this ongoing trademark legal battle. The second link will take visitors to a news item from the Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News that talks about the journey of Big Red (and his legal team) to Rome this past week. The third link will lead visitors to an article from Newsday that describes the countersuit filed by Mediaset against the legal representatives of Western Kentucky University. The fourth link will take visitors to the Big Red webpage offered by Western Kentucky University that talks about this furry creature's numerous accolades, including standout performances in the Battle of the Mascots contests sponsored by ESPN. The fifth link will take visitors to the webpage of the tuxedo shirt-clad Gabibbo, which includes links to his songs (under the link Le canzoni). Here visitors can listen to some of his well-known numbers, including such favorites as Sirenone and Formaggi Selvaggi. After reading about the fractious world of mascots, many readers will appreciate the final link, which leads to MascotNet. At the site (devoted to the extensive world of mascots and mascot management), visitors can learn about how to become a mascot, share information about helpful props for performances at community events and arenas, and helpful techniques for working with children and motivating a crowd.
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