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

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