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La femme Nikita

Da un'intervista di Jessi Virtusio realizzata nell'ottobre 2002.


U.S. LFN fans are used to hearing the show in English, but what happens when the show is in a market where English isn't the primary language? That's when someone like Italian Daniela Altomonte comes in to provide viewers a translation of the show that is true to the episode at hand. Those who attended Close Quarters Standby 4 are familiar with Altomonte who presented the first panel after introductions at the May 2001 event. Altomonte, who had never been to an LFN fan event before, said she was "honoured, thrilled, embarrassed, shy, scared and curious" when she was asked to speak at CQS4 about being a writer of the Italian dialogues for LFN. She said the applause after her video of the Italian dialogue for the scene where Operations approaches gangster Carlos Bonaventure in Sympathy for the Devil really made its mark on her. "I felt so proud,"Altomonte said. "We all did a very good job, and (the fans) appreciated it." And that interaction with the fans was quite an experience for her. "I discovered a new world! I am not joking. You fans are really something! The Italian Contingent, as you called it, helped me a lot: suggestions, tips, etc. … I am happy I had this opportunity -- all this thanks to the Internet, of course," Altomonte said. For those who might have missed her CQS4 panel or who haven't become acquainted with her yet, she was actually not a fan of LFN prior to being asked to write the dialogues. But Altomonte was at least familiar with the concept surrounding the show. 
"An RAI (Italian broadcasting company) official called me (in) November 1998 and told me I should have work on a new TV series based on the picture Nikita. As I liked Luc Besson's movie a lot, I was really happy about it," she said. The dialogue process typically starts with Altomonte being given a VHS tape and the original script. "I go home and I look at the film or telefilm. While looking at it, I start thinking about the characterization of each character. When I'm already working on a series, I obviously know the characters so I just have to think about improving their way of talking," she said. "I don't usually translate the script because it's easier for me to read the English sentence (but it could be in another language, of course), and while reading it, I think about the right equivalent in Italian. Then I start trying each sentence on the original ones, I mean, 'acting' by myself in front of my computer, observing the rhythm, the pauses and the length of each sentence." The dialogue process definitely presents some challenges for Altomonte.
"To express in the proper way the original script in another language, we necessarily have to make some compromises. Think about ER, for example, which is full of medical terms which don't coincide with the Italian ones or in LFN terms, relating to the (intel) or the military terms," she said, adding that LFN presented an extra challenge.
"To express the 'cold way' of acting and talking of LFN, I had to find 'my way.' That meant WORK HARD on every single word. Think about Michael: ONE WORD/ONE WORLD! … It wasn't easy at all, especially at the beginning. Let's say I 'learned' how to 'enter' the characters from Season 3. I did my best in Season 4, that's for sure."
Having completed dialogues for 48 episodes of show, it might be hard to pick a favorite, but Altomonte said she especially enjoyed writing the dialogues for the S4 episodes Abort, Fail, Retry, Terminate and Time to Be Heroes.
"The first one, because I liked Birkoff's character a lot, and the second, because it was completely different from the 'routine episodes' of LFN," she said, adding that "the atmosphere, the soundtrack and most of the scripts" are what appeal most to her about LFN.
LFN isn't the only program that she has done Italian dialogues for. Other shows she has worked on include ER, Murder Call, In the Heat of the Night, New York New York, Felicity, Roswell, Smallville and The West Wing. Altomonte also has handled Italian dialogues for movies such as Disaster at Silo 7, Blind Vision, In Defense of a Married Man, The Sting II, Driving Me Crazy, Lena's Holiday, Spies, Inside and Halloween II. 
As one would suspect, the dialogue process varies with each project, and Altomonte typically handles the work on her own. "We usually should write a 45-minute episode within a week. Sometimes it takes more. Unfortunately, it does especially with some very difficult series such as ER and The West Wing."
Altomonte has been doing dialogues for quite some time. I started as a dubber when I was a child at about 6 or 7 years old. I dubbed for almost 20 years, and then I started to write dialogues. I have been doing this job for more than 20 years now," she said.  In those two decades in the dialogue industry, Altomonte said she has learned a number of lessons including "the respect of other people's jobs." Our 'mission' is to respect it as much as possible in order to maintain the original idea. I, too, am a scriptwriter as well. I wrote scripts for a couple of Italian productions, and so I really think this is the most  important thing of all."
Although Altomonte is between jobs at the moment, she hopes to soon be put to work on new episodes of Smallville and The West Wing. In the meantime, she has been enjoying going to the movies. 
"I like the films that make me think and which make me love life such as it is. I really liked AI. I like action films and science fiction films. And I am 'forced' by my son to go see animation films," Altomonte said.
"As for the books, well, I am reading four books altogether. And as for the music, think about LFN's soundtrack. Right, that's it: THAT sort of music! And then I really like acid jazz and sometimes classical music as well. Do you remember A Clockwork Orange? Well, I am crazy about Beethoven's '9th Symphony!' "
In addition to entertainment, Altomonte enjoys spending time with her family and friends. 
"But above all, I like to go OUT as my job forces me to stay ALONE in front of the PC ALL DAY LONG," she said. Still, just being able to do the Italian dialogues has been a big accomplishment for her.
"It is a daily challenge, I can assure you," Altomonte said. "And having a child is a double challenge." 
While she enjoys doing the Italian dialogues, she would like to make a career out of the screenwriting she has been doing. "I hope I'll be able to find a way to find a very brave producer who will believe in the things I have been writing. They are nice indeed, but this is more a dream (right now)." Altomonte said. 
Speaking of dreams, she is hopeful for the fans who are working toward getting LFN on DVD.
"I think that it is a wonderful thing to have something to believe in, a dream, a project, and to have the opportunity to share this with other people," Altomonte said. 
She added that she hopes to have the chance to attend other LFN fan events in the future.
"Thank you for all the kindness and love you showed at CQS4 and you have been showing to me in all the message boards I go in! You are so nice with me that I should find a blushing avatar!"

I hope that we will be able to meet again some day."