Tuesday, March 22, 2011

French Entertainment Media

At the heart of French television entertainment is the round table talk show. This format dominates the networks with a total of 650 talk shows. Below are Le Grand Journal, On n'est pas couché, Toute une histoire and Bibliotheque Medicis.

The French talk show has even had some influence on American media. Apostrophes was a talk show hosted by Bernard Pivot. Pivot used a version of Proust's questionnaire with his intellectual and celebrity guests. The question format was later used for Inside the Actor's Studio.

Above are some of the broadcasters and media forms in French entertainment. Below Arte and Luxe TV are included in popular cable packages but are considered more serious, high culture entertainment aligned with more traditional European values than pop American media.

Vincent Bolloré has recently come to light in French entertainment with his takeover of Virgin in France. He replaced it with a new channel DirectStar. Bolloré also owns Direct 8, the metro journals Direct Matin and Direct Soir, London based Aegis and other media companies.

DirectStar was applauded for taking over UK Virgin but the content on DirectStar and also Direct 8 resembles anglo media like E Entertainment network as seen below in the use of pop English language titles.

Above Vivendi owns Canal+ the main name in French cinema. Canal+ pre-buys the majority of French film to help distribution. Below the French Cannes Film Festival is a global event that attracts more attention than the French national Oscars known as the César Awards.

Above historic images of Cannes with Grace Kelly and Jean Cocteau and below the American celebrities who launch at Cannes for its chic factor.

French celebrity media is somewhat limited due to privacy laws though it has been increasing. The main formats such as Paris Match and Grazia cover many American celebrities. Across Europe the biggest celebrity media centers are the UK, followed by interest in royalty in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Above Bridget Bardot who has received negative media attention for her comments regarding French immigrants and below support for Roman Polanski, a French citizen who has received negative media attention for fleeing the US court.

The question is if these individuals step into the media spotlight, if then they should be held to higher standards, such as appearance and morality. There is also a question is the spotlight brings undue pressure encouraging or even allowing bad behavior.

It could be argued that the French started reality tv with Le Prix du Danger in 1983. The film focused on a reality game show with a man competing for his life. A decade later, the UK show Big Brother became the dominant influence on French confinement scenario shows such as Loft Story and Secret Story.

Since Big Brother, France has created many American spin offs with reality game shows such as Taxi Cash based on Cash Cab. These are low cost shows as there are no actors and can be customized. Below a variety of French serial fiction shows have begun to resemble reality television, such as Plus Belle la Vie.

Finally the fate of French entertainment is like that of the rest of the world. New media and social networking have begun to pull people away from one directional mass media like film and television. Writing in 1996, French writer Jean Baudrillard stated: “What if information did not relate to the event or facts but to the promotion of information itself as the event?...this is where McLuhan’s formulation can be seen as absolutely brilliant: the medium has swallowed the message and it is this the multi medium that is proliferating in all directions.”

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