Actress and director Asia Argento has been removed as a judge on X Factor Italy following reports that she sexually assaulted and then paid off her 17-year-old former co-star Jimmy Bennett (Argento has admitted to the payment but denied any sexual relationship with Bennett, saying her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain wanted to handle the allegation privately).
The Hollywood Reporter reports that the seven episodes that have already been shot will still air with Argento as judge, in order to not inadvertently penalize those who have already auditioned and been selected (as many people involved in the projects of accusees were).
Sky Italia and FreemantleMedia Italia released a statement shortly after the New York Times allegations broke, stating that they would fire Argento if the story was confirmed. Though Argento has publicly denied the allegations, TMZ has since published photos of Argento and Bennett in bed together, as well as leaked texts—supposedly from Argento to Rose McGowan’s partner Rain Dove—in which she admits to sex but claims Bennett “jumped her.” Clearly between the photos and the texts, which have been covered in the Italian press, the X Factor producers felt there was enough evidence to fire her. (McGowan has since come forward about the texts, revealing in a statement that Dove showed them to her before taking them to the police, something she encouraged. “Asia,” she adds. “Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.”).
X Factor Italy was set to be an important television comeback for Argento, who faced months of doubts and slut-shaming in the Italian press following her high-profile allegations against Harvey Weinstein. She previously appeared as a contestant on reality show Ballando con le stelle in 2016, though she has not appeared on Italian television since.
The episodes featuring Argento will begin airing September 6, with a new judge for the live performance episodes to be announced on September 5.
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