Wednesday, 2 December 2009


[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

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