Thursday, 31 December 2009


I wish you all the best for 2010.

I also sincerely thank you for your increasing interest, your enduring fidelity and your trust.


As series 6 of Hustle arrives on BBC One next monday, Digital Spy offers us exclusive interviews with members of Mickey's team. First: Matt Di Angelo, one of the two additions to the cast last year with Kelly Adams.

Series 5 brought Hustle back on tracks after two awfully forgettable series, a pause of almost two years, and a pathetic Italian Job cliffhanger. Series 4, without the charismatic and talented Adrian Lester (trying his luck in the US) as Mickey "Bricks" Stone, focused on Marc Warren as Danny Blue in the shoes of the team leader. The iconic Mr Robert Vaughn became de facto star of the show as Albert Stroller (for the satisfaction of US then co-funder, AMC) and Hustle became a shallow self-indulgent parody of Ocean's Eleven customized for the American market.

Hustle started practically from scratch with the brilliant recession-centric series 5. Lester came back after the terribly embarassing Bonekickers, one of the worst British shows ever made (1). Exit Marc Warren and Jaime Murray and with them the annoying "Danny and Stacie show", idem for Ashley Walters (added as Billy Bond in series 4). And the two new cast members, Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo, entered as brother-sister duo Emma and Sean Kennedy.

The Kennedy siblings are a great addition to the team and it's fortunate to see them again in the new series. The show is relocated to Birmingham (with scenes shot in London) but the excellent Rob Jarvis is still there as Eddie - the "sixth musketeer" of the Hustle family. Robert Glenister is of course Ash Morgan.

Does someone at Thames House know that Ash is posing as the Home Secretary?

(1) With Demons, Spooks Code 9 and Paradox.


Live Final of La France a un incroyable talent season 4 (LFAIT), the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise, yesterday evening on French private channel M6.

10 finalists: So United Crew (Dance), Mohamed Cheddadi (Michael Jackson impersonator and Magician), Sabrina Aganier (Contortionist), Agnieszka (Singer), Les Echos-Liés (Humoristic urban dance group), Skorpion (Dance), Léa (Singer/composer), Florian (Magician), Céline Perret (Opera Singer), Secrets of Moonwalk (Dance)

The jury: producer from Quebec Gilbert Rozon (founder and president of the Just for Laughs festival) - back from previous seasons. Actress/director Valérie Stroh and comedian and humorist Smaïn. They could not buzz as only vote of the viewers counted. Actually they were on an odd Strawberry Shortcake mode, being widely over indulgent even if Rozon tried a snark to the audience (« It's the only audience we found») and practiced a minimalist version of his now famous duo with Smaïn

10: Sabrina Aganier.
9: Secrets of Moonwalk. The only contenders to get critics from Rozon and Stroh, the latter confessing her lassitude towards their usual Michael Jackson tribute choreography.
8. Agniezka.
7. Mohamed Cheddadi.
6. Léa.
5. So United Crew.
4. Céline... Does The Great French Public like Opera and classical music? She deserved to win with her beautiful rendition of Gounod's Ave Maria. I didn't write she would (Bruno, a French Paul Potts, was N°2 in 2007).
3. Florian. Someone should have hidden his CDs before his number. The young man is good, though.
2. Skorpion.
1. Les Echos-Liés. Remember Diversity won Britain's Got Talent 2009. Honestly I was far more impressed by what they did in audition, and there was less dance and more comedy than previous times. They win the € 100.000 and the worldwide tour with transformist Arturo Brachetti.

This season 4 makeover by production company FremantleMedia France and channel M6 was subtile enough to surf on what the SuBo effect brought to BGT without delivering a pale imitation. The true winners of LFAIT 2009 are the creative forces behind the programme, and the new jury.

Never forget that the true stars of these talent shows are the judges.

Verdict: 5/10

See also:

Monday, 28 December 2009


Tonight (at last!) on ITV1, John Hurt reprises the role of author, raconteur, aphorist and gay icon Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York. 33 years after his magnificent interpretation in this essential piece of television titled The Naked Civil Servant, directed by Jack Gold.

The original 1975 made-for-TV movie, about the youth of Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) in conservative England of the first half of the 20th century, was adapted by Philip Mackie from Crisp's autobiography and produced by Verity Lambert for Thames Television. It is righftfully considered as a classic and the sequel is awaited with the highest expectations.

An Englishman in New York, written by Brian Fillis and directed by Richard Laxton, picks up where The Naked Civil Servant left off and covers the second part of the life of Crisp, in America. Cynthia Nixon (Sex and The City) and Swoosie Kurtz are in the cast.

This Leopardrama production for ITV1 is actually on the shelves of ITV since one year ( and will face the remake of The Day of the Triffids on BBC One, which is rather unfortunate even if your humble servant has far far less expectations about Triffids 2009.

In 1987, Quentin Crisp inspired to Sting his famous An Englishman in New York, one of the most beautiful songs of the artist ( Like The Naked Civil Servant, the song celebrates a man whose life was an ode to the importance of being Oneself.

9pm (British Time) on ITV1

Update (December 29):

Great review of this wonderful film by Frank Collins ( I was looking forward to read it.


See also:

Friday, 25 December 2009


« This is the end. Beautiful friend
This is the end. My only friend, the end »
(The Doors)

[Spoilish Mode engaged] So the long goodbye begins. The eagerly anticipated part one of The End of Time, the Doctor Who Christmas/New Year special marks the start of David Tennant's final appearance as the tenth Doctor.

Something wicked this way comes for Christmas and it's worse than the Sycorax, the Rachnos or the You've been Framed! Christmas special. Is it everybody's favourite psycho, The Master? The former blairesque/jokeresque PM (John Simm again, in a "trip of a lifetime") is brought back to life by a bunch of worshippers with the involuntary assistance of Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen) - locked in her private Guantanamo.

The resurrection process turns not like expected as The Master now eats like Gordon Ramsay talks. Someone is interested anyway, renowned author Joshua Naismith (David Harewood) who observes and awaits with his daughter Abigail (Tracy Ifeachor). « Christmas is cancelled » says the man, and he's got no idea how much he's right. Idiots and fouls...

The Doctor is warned and his mission (he can only accept it) is to try to stop his worst enemy with an Impossible Mission Force of his own: good ol' Wilf - Donna's grand-dad (the great Bernard Cribbins) and his task force of senior citizen friends. Things could not be worse? Think again... Donna (Catherine Tate) is engaged and must not remember The Doctor or her adventures with him. And the Doctor knows he's going to die. Good luck.

The End of Time. The End of the Russell T. Davies era as showrunner of the myth he revived in 2005. Magic, epic, triumphs, magnificence, formidable stories, moments that will stay in the History of Television. Hard times too, with a disappointing series 4 (at least in its second half), an inelegant botched regeneration and a terrible finale followed by uneven specials.

The Next Doctor was brilliant except that David Morrissey was not... The Next Doctor. Planet of the Dead was, well er, how to put it... to forget. And The Waters of Mars was a true relief, even after 30 minutes of embarassing flashbacks of an Italian zombie movie of the 80s (yeah, right... A pre-watershed Italian zombie movie of the 80s, then).

The Doctor and Wilf have bad dreams and a mission. The rest of the protagonists have their own agenda, their sweet dreams. Some of them want to use you, some of them want to get used by you, etc (remember Eurythmics). Some manipulate, some are manipulated or are they? It's just a matter of taste.

The stuff that dreams are made of. The stuff of legends (Timothy Dalton and June Whitfield are there). We'll see if Russell T. Davies can master the cliffhanger of this first part. The Toclafanes were Jelly Babies compared to what happens to the Human race this Christmas.

Something wicked this way comes for the End of Time. And who knows more about Time than the narrator of the story and his audience?

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Thursday, 24 December 2009


[12.00 - French Time] Second live semi-final of La France a un incroyable talent (LFAIT), the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise, yesterday evening on French private channel M6.

Like last week, 12 semi-finalists divided in two groups of 6. First group: Secrets of Moonwalk (Dance Group), Lola (Folk Singer), Tao (Martial artist and magician), Compagnie A Balles et Bulles (Jugglers), Sabrina (Contortionist), Rachid (Flame spewer). In each group the candidate who receives the highest votes from viewers is automatically qualified, and the jury must choose the other between the second and the third chosen by viewers. A candidate is "saved" by the judges at the end of the episode.

Second group submitted for the approval of the viewers and the judges: Skorpion (Dance), Gwendal (Singer), Fanny and Noémie (Dancers), Florian (Magician), Othentik59 (Dance Group), Céline (Opera Singer). The judges are of course: producer from Quebec Gilbert Rozon (founder and president of the Just for Laughs festival), actress/director Valérie Stroh and comedian and humorist Smaïn.

Three heavy trends for this fourth season of LFAIT (formerly Incroyable Talent): urban dance groups (with or without humour) - remember Diversity won Britain's Got Talent 2009. The search for the French Shaheen Jafargholi, this 12-year old singer who appeared in BGT and sung for the Michael Jackson Memorial Service. And the heaviest of all: the tributes to The King of Pop.

Secrets of Moonwalk mixes the urban dance group trend and the tribute to Michael Jackson and got Three Yesses, like Lola the folk artist. Tao ( was amusing but he got one buzz from Gilbert Rozon (your humble servant don't get why). The martial artist/magician has a restaurant in Limoges, the place must worth a visit. La Compagnie A Balles et Bulles unfortunately didn't confirm their audition (two buzzes).

Rachid got a buzz from - who else ? - « direct and intransigent » Rozon. « He thinks it's Questions pour un Champion » said Smaïn of his colleague - amusingly the long-running Questions pour un Champion, adapted from Going for Gold (1), is another hot property of FremantleMedia, the production company of LFAIT. Note that Rachid is not only a flamboyant street artist but also a playwright and he is working on a a play called Hermes et la femme sans âge.

The highlight of this first group where no one really tried - except Rachid - to do better than in auditions, was Sabrina Aganier, 19, contortionist and graduate from the National Circus School of Montreal ( There is no Got Talent in Quebec, just a dubbed version of America's Got Talent titled in French Du Talent à Revendre! No doubt that The Hoff would adore Sabrina.

Secrets of Moonwalk was N°1 qualified by viewers and the jury had to choose between Lola and Sabrina. Sabrina won a due qualification as she contributed widely to make this second semi-final a great show, with contenders of the second group like Skorpion. Skorpion (Brice Larrieu), 26, is a trained classic and modern dancer who dreams to create his own company. After what we've seen yesterday evening we seriously think that this is a damn good idea.

The most notable effort of the evening was from Fanny and Noémie because a back sprain of Fanny limited her dancing possibilities but she was on stage with her sister for a nice tribute to Chicago, the musical. Gilbert Rozon buzzed, I enjoyed the number because when I have a lumbago I can't even scratch my nose without yelling to death. And I like Chicago.

Florian will become a fabulous professional magician if he leaves his CDs at home (once is enough) and Othentik59 is out of the race to become the French Diversity. The Queen of Hearts of this semi-final is Céline, the wonderful Opera singer. She performed beautifully the famous Der Hölle Rache aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Céline should not be compared to Susan Boyle. Her voice recalls the magic of Paul Potts, the first BGT winner. She deserves to follow his steps and Simon Cowell or Sony Classical should sign her at once. Skorpion was the choice of the viewers for this group, Céline the choice of the jury, and the judges saved Florian the Magician.

Next week: the finale. The competition is surprisingly open.

Verdict: 8/10


See also:

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


I just watched this on the blog of Lee Goldberg, writer, author, producer, TV historian, man of culture and taste.

A video compilation about the use of Green Screen technology in television series and not only for special effect sequences. Edifying and, in some respects, terrifying.

Our eyes lie.


Let me wish you, faithful readers or new visitors, the best holidays possible.

Let me also sincerely thank you for your fidelity, your trust and your interest.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


[13.00 - French Time] It's really a surprise for soap opera aficionafos (count your humble servant among them) but the mysterious Tucker McCall, new to Genoa City, is recast just one month after the arrival of talented actor William Russ (Wiseguy, Boy meets world, Boston Legal) in CBS's The Young and The Restless.

It's been a very rocky year for Y&R with mandatory salary cuts due to tough times for the Daytime drama industry. They lost Don Diamont (Brad Carlton) to sister show The Bold and The Beautiful and almost lost Jess Walton (Jill). Worse, the producers were about to bid farewell to Eric Braeden - the legendary Victor Newman himself! - during contract negociations.

William Russ is replaced as Tucker by an actor whose name means aristocracy in the world of soaps: Stephen Nichols, ex-"Patch" Johnson in Days of our lives and ex-Stefan Cassadine in General Hospital.

To attract such a name in Y&R is a very nice coup. According to the Powers that be the change is motivated by new directions for the freshly arrived character but one can wonder if the presence of Stephen Nichols is not also a kind of subliminal message to Eric Braeden.

Don't mess with Mr Mustache...

Friday, 18 December 2009


[19.44 - French Time] Don't believe this is my Nikki Finke weekend, actually on the French version of this blog there's something about the French dubbing of the Doctor Who 2008 Christmas Special - with an exclusive - but this has interest only for French-speaking readers, of course (

Anyway, She Who Must Be Read (thank God she doesn't hate me for that nickname) aka Nikki Finke gives us the first numbers of Avatar, the event movie by James Cameron, and her analysis on

The video game industry makes more money than Hollywoodland. With Avatar it's as if you plunged into the cinematics of a VG and contemporary moviegoers love VGs (moviemakers too and sometimes too much). But is it still cinema?

Nikki will update information about Avatar's Box office constantly.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


According to MMC ( Media Corporation) - parent company of Nikki Finke's - She Who Must Be Read aka Nikki Finke now has a larger readership than Variety and The Hollywood Reporter combined!

In November 2009: 1,111,000 Unique Visitors, 2,397,000 Visits, 4,000,000 Page Views (

Your sneezing and coughing humble servant will for sure match these numbers... in 2500 years. Congrats, Nikki!


Digital Spy has an exclusive UK trailer of Edge Of Darkness, Martin Campbell's movie remake of his own 1985 BBC television classic.

The original TV series was written by the great Troy Kennedy Martin (The Sweeney) and starred Bob Peck as Ronald Craven, a Yorkshire police officer who investigates the brutal killing of his daughter right on his doorstep and uncovers government and corporate conspiration which could threaten the future of the world. The score was by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, no less.

Mel Gibson stars in the movie and face Ray Winstone. The names of Campbell, Gibson and Winstone are sufficient enough to inspire the interest of your humble servant, who's a big fan of the original. And a fan of Gibson and Winstone too.

If you can, do yourself a favor and buy the DVD box set of the TV version.


[11.50 - French Time] First live semi-final of La France a un incroyable talent (LFAIT), the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise, yesterday evening on French private channel M6.

12 semi-finalists divided in two groups of 6. First group: Les Echos-Liés (Dance group), Michaël (Speed painting), Isabelle (Dance), Christèle and her dog, Agnieszka (Singer) and Batuc'Ados (Dance group). In each group the candidate who receives the highest votes from viewers is automatically qualified, and the jury must choose the other between the second and the third chosen by viewers. A candidate is "saved" by the judges at the end of the episode.

Second group: So United Crew (Dance Group), Mohamed Cheddadi (Michael Jackson impersonator and magician), Mélodie and Marjolaine (Dancer and singer), Simon (Motorcycle acrobat), Franky Filing (Ventriloquist) and Léa (Singer/composer).

In a GT all the fun is in the audition process. No candidate really tried to set the bar higher than during the audtions except magician Mohamed Cheddadi (why the ventriloquist didn't confirm his audition is a mystery) and no surprise in this first semi-final: Isabelle got three buzzes, and the finalists are two dance groups - Les Echos-Liés and So United Crew (at least Les Echos-Liés distinguish themselves with humor) - and two singers, Agnieszka and Léa. No Actors Studio either when the jury had to choose between Agnieszka and Christèle: « What a Cornelian choice » sighed Valérie Stroh. Idem for the choice between Simon and Léa (« It's a very difficult choice » regretted Gilbert Rozon!) Yeah, right...

« The show is not here [within the jury], the show is there [on stage] » said the humorist, partly aknowledging what we already knew: the true stars of a Cowell show are the judges and this year Gilbert Rozon and Smaïn brilliantly steal the show ( « You always agree with me but you can't admit it » said Rozon). When told that The X Factor (another entry from Simon Cowell) 2009 edition had been all centered around her, judge Dannii Minogue answered: « What a shock to hear you say that! I always wish it was about the contestants, but I guess The X Factor is as much a soap opera about the judges as well » (

Mohamed is the contestant saved by the jury.

Verdict: 5/10

See also:

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


[11.31 - French Time] Episode 4 of La France a un incroyable talent (LFAIT), the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise. Fourth day of auditions and 24 candidates to chose for the live semi-final of Wednesday 16.

Previously titled Incroyable Talent ("Incredible Talent"), the French GT is now La France a un incroyable talent ("France's got an incredible talent"). Production company FremantleMedia France and private channel M6 now clearly relate the French version to its British counterpart because of the extraordinary global impact of Susan Boyle. So there's this new title, a new logo similar to Britain's Got Talent, a new intro sequence... actually the theme and the visuals of BGT but with French landmarks, and even a new jury.

Only « direct and intransigent » producer from Quebec Gilbert Rozon (founder and president of the Just for Laughs festival) remains from previous seasons. Actress/director Valérie Stroh and comedian and humorist Smaïn are the new recruits. The unlikely duo Smaïn/Rozon ranks among the great tandems of the Cowell factory like Simon Cowell/Piers Morgan in BGT or Simon Cowell/Louis Walsh in The X Factor. In the GT franchise the part of the female judge is always ungrateful, ask Amanda Holden, and only Sharon Osbourne in America's Got Talent has the suitable personality to match with her male colleagues (Piers Morgan and David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff).

Submitted for the approval of the judges: a flame spewer stripper, a senior Ray Charles/Prince crossover (huh?), Mélodie and Marjolaine (dancer and singer), an autodidact juggler, a pig (a true pig, I mean...), a mental coach who can bend a metal spear with his throat (do not try this at home, children...), Hugo - a talented sopranist, or an oriental male dancer.

One of the main issues of Got Talent is editing. Thank goodness, LFAIT do not suffer of the Quantum of Solace type of editing of AGT but sometimes a sequence is "cut" to the point of frustration of the viewer like with dance group Afrokan (three Yesses) or magicians Zack et Brice (too quickly ejected). Talking about magic, Tao gave us a great number. The guy has talent and a fantastic sense of humour. Impressive also, a contortionist from Montreal named Sabrina - there's no GT in Quebec (« So sophisticated, so Quebecer » says Rozon).

To be perfectly honest, we were all expecting FremantleMedia to try shamelessly a local Susan Boyle but actually no one among the contenders can truly be dubbed "the French SuBo". However, thanks to Diversity (winner of BGT 2009) there is an overdose of dance groups this year. Another trend of this season is the tributes to Michael Jackson: Secret of Moonwalk, a dance group, mixes both trends. « That's why this show exists » says Gilbert Rozon and Simon Cowell should give £10 to a charity each time a judge of one of his shows says that.

At least Undercover could seriously begin to approach Diversity with its nice dance number with music from video games. But on the social relevance side we can bet that Othentik59 could be a proper French Diversity winner. Other heavy trend of LFAIT season 4: the French Shaheen Jafargholi - remember this 12-year old singer who appeared in BGT and sung for the Michael Jackson Memorial Service. Last week we had Gwendal, in this episode Joffrey. The 13-year old boy offered Gilbert Rozon an opportunity for a Simon Cowell impersonation and after the "suspense" of the commercial break his dilemma came to an end with a "Yes".

55 Yesses in 4 episodes, 31 down after the "debriefing", 24 survivors: Isabelle (Dancer), Les Echo-Liés (Dance Group), Agnieszka (Singer), Simon (Motorcycle acrobat), Rachid (Flame Spewer), Batuc'ados (Samba Group), Mohamed (Michael Jackson impersonator/magician!), Christèle and her dog, Michaël (Speed painting), Mélodie and Marjolaine, Othentik59, Florian (Magician), Secret of Moonwalk, Léa (Singer/Composer), Franky Filing (Ventriloquist extraordinary), So United Crew (Dance Group), Lola (Singer), Skorpion (Dancer), Tao, Céline (Singer), Fanny and Noémie (Dancers), Compagnie A Balles et Bulles (Jugglers), Gwendal (Singer) and Sabrina.

Brilliant episode, great lines from Smaïn (« You take the money »), Rozon and co-presenter Alex Goude (« Little pussy is dead »). All you can wait from GT even a surreal moment of enthusiasm of the jury for an "Instrument impersonator" who impersonates a baby cry (sorry?) with Valérie Stroh finding that "Super Original". And Marcel Azna, the Aznavour "lookalike", was sympathetic and moving.

Full disclosure: Written between coughs and sneezes by your humble servant, who will watch the semi-final this evening in an altered state.

Verdict: 9/10

See also:

Monday, 14 December 2009


Last May, after the final episode of Britain's Got Talent 2009 on ITV1, your humble servant (who guessed the name of the winner) joked that music and television mogul Simon Cowell should consider launching his own TV channel.

In June it was reported that Cowell was working with businessman Sir Philip Green in order to create a £1 billion new entertainment company - which would incorporate his ITV talent shows The X Factor (whose season finale aired last evening) and BGT, as well as other projects.

Now Simon Cowell rules out rumours that he could bid for ITV with Philip Green ( « We’ve been approached by various people in the past who wanted to have a look at ITV and asked us if we’d be interested, but it’s so much work to do » he said in an interview to be shown on BBC2 Newsnight tonight.

Could ITV, which owes Cowell a lot this year (, become the jewel of the crown of his empire? The future of Simon Cowell, now the highest paid man of the US television industry and saviour of ITV, goes definitely beyond American Idol (where he's a judge), The X Factor or the Got Talent franchise - whose French edition currently airs its fourth season on private channel M6.

See also:


Right in the middle of a political debate about France's Identité nationale (National Identity - i.e. What makes a French), the main topic of French media outlets these days is not the upcoming regional elections, the recession, or climate change but the health of Johnny Hallyday.

Rocker and actor Johnny Hallyday (born Jean-Philippe Smet), 66 years old, is the French equivalent in notoriety of Elvis Presley or even Michael Jackson. He has sold million of records and performed in front of million of fans in stadiums since the sixties. Hallyday is a true Pop culture icon in France: he has a puppet in the always popular Guignols de l'Info (the satirical show aired by Canal Plus) and his weddings or his fiscal localization choices are the talk of main street and among favorite stories of French newspapers or tabloids.

Johnny Hallyday is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles since a few days. He has been placed into a medically induced coma to assist his recovery from back surgery in L.A., after complications from a previous operation in France to relieve a herniated disc. Family and friends are now around the rock legend in California and last friday, the French doctor who practiced the original surgery in Paris was attacked by two masked men.

Whether you like the character or not (your humble servant is personally indifferent to the singer or to the public figure) his enduring career as a rock star can only inspire respect. Johnny Hallyday is probably the only remaining superstar of France's music industry since the death of singer Claude François in 1978.

On the opposite, his acting career leaves the impression of a missed opportunity. After some minor films made to cash on the singer and an Eurowestern in the sixties, Hallyday had to wait the eighties when Jean-Luc Godard and Costa-Gavras transcended the singer to make him a true actor, respectively in Détective (1985) and Conseil de famille (1986, remade in the US as Family Business).

In 1989 Americanophile Johnny Hallyday became maverick cop David Lansky in a namesake TV series for French public television service. Ahead of its time with its attempt to match US production, this rather enjoyable show lasted only one season. Unfortunately the rest of Hallyday's filmography is of no cinephilic interest except the wonderful Jean-Philippe (2006), a "Twilight Zonesque" surreal comedy where he played his own self in an alternate reality where the rock star Hallyday doesn't exist.

Johnny Hallyday was meant to go on his farewell tour in January 2010 but French newspapers are asking if his health will allow him to do so, with all the consequences that an interruption could have regarding the business and contractual aspects of this tour. The health status of the artist is not ignored in the anglo-saxon world, even famous celebrity blogger Perez Hilton - who keeps an eye on France (he's the N°1 supporter of French singer Sliimy) - has written a piece about "the French Elvis".


Saturday, 12 December 2009


My sinuses, my nose and my throat are going through times so tough that they're threatening me to unionize. This is not swine flu... I'm not a swine! (laughs)

I thank you loyal and numerous readers for your patience, your interest, your trust and your regular visits.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


[7.00 - French Time] Episode 3 of La France a un incroyable talent (LFAIT), the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise, aired yesterday evening on private channel M6. This episode was build with a lot of dramatization around the publicized clash of the two male members of the jury - announced right at the start of the show. Keep in mind that in GT the true stars are the judges.

Now in its season 4, LFAIT (formerly Incroyable Talent) has a brand new jury: only « direct and intransigent » producer from Quebec Gilbert Rozon remains from previous seasons. Actress/director Valérie Stroh and comedian and humorist Smaïn are the new recruits. This year FremantleMedia France, the production company, and M6 seem to get the right formula for the jury and Smaïn is actually the good surprise of the show.

We already knew the man is a classy ad-libber that he's fun on stage. We were less convinced by his incursions in television fiction and in movies. After all, he played in the notorious terrible remake of a French movie classic (whose poster curiously vanished from his presentation this week). But his unlikely duo with Gilbert Rozon is as interesting as the tandem Simon Cowell/Piers Morgan in Britain's Got Talent or Simon Cowell/Louis Walsh in The X Factor.

Submitted for the approval of the LFAIT judges: So United Crew, another dance group - Diversity won BGT 2009 and it shows, a woman and her dog, a Country music dance family (who inspired to Gilbert Rozon a first snark to Smaïn), a "recordman", an electronic string quartet a la Escala, an impersonator who earned a Yes from Smaïn... and Smaïn got a « Will you stop to want to please everyone? » from his "direct and intransigent" Canadian colleague.

Make no mistake, the pair stole this third episode. The kid singing Show must go on, the 61-year old "intuitive dancer", or the dance troup "not pretending to be professional" (« And you're damn right » answers a cowellian Rozon) were there to pave the way for THE clash of the titans. Kevin & Blaise, a duo of "Fire charmers", lit the fuse (...) when Smaïn - who liked the number - revendicates his difference vs the [I quote] « American way » of Gilbert Rozon.

When the comedian and then the producer left the stage they broke the momentum of the episode. Puh-lease, guys! At least we were spared Simon Cowell doing a Charlie Townsend impersonation through an intercom like in America's Got Talent or BGT judge Amanda Holden dressed as a circus ringmistress (but Cowell is innocent for that one). C'mon, don't ever do that again.

All the magic of the show lies in the display of pleasant numbers and sometimes true talents hidden inside the nightmarish compendium which is usually GT. Breizh acrobatique, a group of seven amateur acrobatic gymnasts, gave us some poetry. Circus artist Correo was so "clouseauesque" that he was sympathetic with his big white balloon which recalls Rover in The Prisoner except that Correo has more charisma than Jim Caviezel.

The Compagnie A Balles et Bulles offered us an impressive jugglery number with skittle pins looking like a clockwork mechanism. The real Doctor Dolitle exists, his name is Benjamin and what he did with his dog and some ducks was extroardinary - not well handled the thing could have turned ridiculous. « Thanks to Smaïn for not buzzing » said co-presenter Alex Goude but Valérie Stroh and Gilbert Rozon did. « Gilbert can't dream anymore » added Goude.

The true revelation of this third week of LFAIT is Florian, 18 years, a magician who won three yesses manipulating CDs. It was original, the young man has style, the choice of the music for the tricks was elegant (a remix of The Hunt for Red October) and if he confirms in semi-final he would certainly fit into the price of the show this season: a worldwide tour with transformist Arturo Brachetti (and € 100.000).

A dancer named Skorpion was the climax of the episode.

Verdict: 5/10

See also:

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


[18.36 -French Time] There was no "performance art" in this one. CBS cancels another soap opera, three months after Guiding Light.

This time it's As the world turns, created in 1956, and its final episode will be aired in september 2010. As Dan J. Kroll of Soap Central aptly remarks, the end of As the World Turns will mark the exit of Procter & Gamble from the world of soap operas, « the very industry it helped to create ».

NBC's Days of our lives is the only soap with more viewers than last year. Stefano DiMera, the resident archivillain of Salem, played so exquisitely by Joseph Mascolo, is really a very powerful man.

See also:

Sunday, 6 December 2009


La Gazette du doublage, the most important website about French-speaking dubbing, has an interesting and most intriguing story this sunday about the recent rerun of Rising Sun (1993) on French cable channel Paris Premiere (a subsidiary of national private channel M6).

On november 30th, Paris Premiere aired the movie adaptation of the excellent Michael Crichton best-seller, starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. What is intriguing with what is after all another rerun of this enjoyable film is that Paris Premiere aired a French-speaking dubbing done in Quebec and not the usual French dubbing made in Paris.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this dubbing from Quebec. Sean Connery is dubbed by Ronald France and Wesley Snipes by Jean-Luc Montminy - the voice of Bruce Willis in Quebec ( Most important, the dubbing artistic director and author of the French dialogues for this version is Vincent Davy, one of the most respected dubbing director, dubbing author and artist of the Province. He's the voice of Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins or Martin Landau and his impressive resume has the length of the Great Wall of China.

In fact, French-speaking dubbing from Quebec is quite familiar for French viewers since the 70s-80s. Mainly because such shows like the original Star Trek, Space: 1999 or The Six million dollar man (except for some episodes dubbed in France) have been dubbed there. But for legal reasons movies shown in French theaters are dubbed in France or sometimes in Belgium and Montreal is excluded, so of course 99% of the movies later seen on TV are dubbed in Paris.

There is a "Parisian" dubbing for Rising Sun, with the voice of Jean-Claude Michel for Sean Connery. Jean-Claude Michel is a legend for dubbing aficionados, he was the voice of Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery or Peter Graves. François Justamand, chief editor of La Gazette du doublage, points out that some years ago private channel TF1 aired this dubbing from Quebec just once and asks the following questions: why does the TV distributor of Rising Sun proposes this version to French channels? Is it an issue about rights or only a mistake of this distributor?

Oddly enough, the last time TF1 aired the movie it was with the dubbing from France but the promos were with the dubbing from Quebec. (In French)

Saturday, 5 December 2009


When ABC announced in october that Golden Globe winner James Franco, yes the same James Franco who played in three Spider-Man movies, Pinneaple Express and Milk, would play on a short-term basis in the venerable soap opera General Hospital, many commentators expressed their perplexity.

James Franco gives us his explanations in a Wall Street Journal article titled A Star, a Soap and the Meaning of Art, and subtitled Why an appearance on 'General Hospital' qualifies as performance art: his guest-starring role in 20 episodes of GH as « the bad-boy artist "Franco, just Franco" » is... performance art(

According to Tate Online, performance art is an art "in which the medium is the artist's own body and the artwork takes the form of actions performed by the artist" ( The actor explains his artistic step in his WSJ piece: « I disrupted the audience's suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn't belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. Everyone watching would see an actor they recognized, a real person in a made-up world ».

The daytime drama genre is living tough times since a couple of years: ratings decline, budgets and casts shrink. Some soaps died this year (Guiding Light) and some may die next year or in a two-year time. Soap opera actors are among the hardest working people in the industry and the talent of many of them has been rewarded by an enduring loyalty from their fans that some A-Listers would not dare to hope in their wildest dreams.

Most soap opera actors are consumed professionals. With character actors and the rare actors who truly deserve to be called "stars" they are the nobility of those who practice their art on screen: the art of acting. When respected veteran actor Eric Braeden (known for his role of Victor Newman in Y&R) appeared in James Cameron's Titanic (1997) he was not doing "performance art". He was doing his job.

Nuff said.

Friday, 4 December 2009


[19.28 - French Time] After HBO's True Blood, the Twilight franchise - adapted from the books by Stephenie Meyer, and The CW's Vampire diaries, Hollywoodland is looking for the next good nightly twist which could attract viewers and cash on the trend of the year. After all, The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a global box office record breaker.

So we learn from Entertainment Weekly that Fox has ordered to Dreamworks Television a show called Howl, about families of werewolves in a small Alaskan town ( Fortysomething readers may remember that one of the first shows of the network was actually the excellent but short-lived Werewolf (1987).

In this series created by Frank Lupo, college student Eric Cord (John J. York) becomes a werewolf because of his best friend and roommate. He must search Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors), the creator of his "bloodline", across the country and he tries to escape to bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan (Lance Le Gault). Near the end of the sole season of Werewolf, Eric discovers that the true originator of the bloodline is not Skorzeny but Nicholas Remy (Brian Thompson), a 2000 year-old werewolf who is a respected university professor with connections in the political sphere.

We can expect an attempt to resurrect (sic) Werewolf sooner or later, as we can bet that there will be a new try to bring back Dark Shadows on the small screen. Atypical in the History of American television, Dark Shadows was a gothic soap opera - imagine Y&R with vampires, werewolves or ghosts - created by Dan Curtis (who also produced) and aired by ABC between 1966 and 1971. The most popular character was vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, and the soap jumped to the big screen with two MGM movies: House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971).

Yes, there's a movie revival currently in development which must be directed by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp (who else?) as Barnabas Collins, but being a big fan of the original your humble servant cannot imagine Depp as Barnabas. In 1991, NBC and Dan Curtis tried to revive Dark Shadows with the talented and wrongfully underestimated Ben Cross as Collins but the primetime show didn't last more than 12 episodes.

In 2004, the then-WB network ordered a pilot for a new and younger Dark Shadows to catch the audience of Smallville but the show was never picked up. Now, regarding the success of The Twilight Saga, some suits will certainly consider a "reinvention" and they may well play with the idea of bringing back a show called Kindred: The Embraced, a sort of vampiric Melrose Place (eh, it was from Spelling Television) aired on Fox in 1996 and starring British actor Mark Frankel - who left this world too soon.

Be prepared for more bloodsucking.

See also:

Thursday, 3 December 2009



Big Top is an attempt by BBC One to launch a new family sitcom starring actress Amanda Holden (one of the judges of Britain's Got Talent) as the ringmistress of a small circus.

Invited by talk show host Paul O'Grady before the premiere of the show, she anticipated that Big Top would get a harsh reaction from critics: « They'll slate it. They'll slate me. They'll say, 'Why is she a talent judge? - She's in this show and she's not talented in it'. But it's fine » ( This wish of Ms Holden to spare so many journalists and bloggers time and efforts is very kind, but what is actually intriguing is why the BBC commissioned Big Top in the first place.

« In this current climate who wants to watch a desperate family in their living room? » said Amanda Holden, talking to Hot TV. Well, er... that's not nice for Emmerdale and its fans: a double-length episode of the ITV1 soap opera (ITV1 is the home of BGT, by the way) peaked at 8.2 million viewers vs 3.3 million viewers for the first episode of Big Top (

Imagine what could Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show) could do with material like Big Top or Paradox...

See also:

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Interview of US actor Stephen Tobolowsky on Moviehole. He talks to Clint Morris about his role in Glee, the Fox Hit series.

And each week listen to The Tobolowsky files, the podcast series from /Film.

See also:


[7.08] Aired yesterday evening on private channel M6, episode 2 of La France a un incroyable talent (LFAIT) - the French version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent franchise - was an improvement from episode 1 and delivered what you expect from a GT show: supremely pathetic, extraordinary, ludicrous, impressive and, sometimes... real talent.

Previously titled Incroyable Talent ("Incredible Talent"), the French GT is now La France a un incroyable talent ("France's got an incredible talent"). Production company FremantleMedia and M6 want to relate the French version to Britain's Got Talent because of the SuBo Factor, of course. So there's this new title, a new logo similar to its British counterpart, a new intro sequence with the theme and the visuals of BGT but with French landmarks, and a new jury for this season 4.

The true stars of the GT franchise all over the world are the judges. Of the previous seasons of the French GT, only producer from Quebec Gilbert Rozon remains in the jury. Actress/director Valérie Stroh and comedian Smaïn enter. Of the trio, Rozon is the closest French-speaking version of Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan (judges of BGT) reunited. « He'll be direct and intransigent » says the presentation, and he can indulge himself to be: he's the founder and president of the Just for Laughs Festival and produces most of the francophone stage superstars of comedy.

Submitted for the approval of the LFAIT jury on Day 2 of the auditions were a Michael Jackson impersonator doubling as a magician (!), a man who does the cry of the pig, a teenage fire jugler boy, a human cannonball woman, a 80-year old corsican singer, female twins practicing rythmic gymnastics, a puppeteer, a club of laughers (huh?) or a guy who was... er, what was he doing, anyway?

The jury clearly finds its marks. Your humble servant was sceptical about comedian Smaïn as a judge - after all he played in the notorious terrible remake of a French movie classic. Outdoor for the spectacular and successful human cannonball number (a premiere in the history of the show), Smaïn has a funny discussion with a woman who lives near. He's a classy ad-libber and knows how to capture the sympathy of the audience.

Valérie Stroh and Gilbert Rozon have a more technical if not clinical insight. But even a natural personality like Smaïn cannot make forget we are tasting a Simon Cowell formula: "We're doing this job to discover true talents", "That's why this show exists" or "That's why we make this show" should be banned once and for all. I'm sure someone at FremantleMedia France must have seen Britain’s Got The Pop Factor... - Peter Kay's parody of Cowell's programmes.

Sometimes among the depressive and nightmarish compendium that can be GT emerges a true talent, like young singer/composer Léa, from Madagascar. Or Céline, the wonderful Opera singer (a female Paul Potts) in the climax of this episode 2 - there's always a climax in a GT show. But the suits behind the Got Talent franchise should beware of the analogy with The X Factor (even if X Factor 2009 owes a lot to BGT!)

My favourite numbers of this episode: Les Drôles de mecs, another group of humoristic breakdance (Diversity won BGT 2009, remember) and ventriloquist genius Franky Filing. « The production has lent me brand new material » says Franky and his "material" is actually the two presenters, Alex Goude and Sandrine Corman - chosen at the last second by the artist.

But what would be an operetta without a royal couple, hey? Les Romanesques ( is a curious Japanese pop performance duo with kitsch costumes, songs and choreography. Their song Zoon-Doco Bushi reminds of Neal Hefti and Anime theme songs. Odd but amusing, Gwen Stefani should love them.

Next week on LFAIT: Gilbert Rozon and Smaïn clash. Oh, c'mon! Seriously, folks...

Verdict: 8/10

See also:

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Interesting video interview of Adrian Hodges, co-creator of Primeval, on the excellent Digital Spy website.

Hodges talks about the future of the franchise: the next two seasons, the movie, etc.

See also: