Weeks ago, esctoday.com reported about Al Walser, who claimed that the Swiss Broadcaster SF DRS asked him to look out for a world star to represent Switzerland in Kiev. Florian Kohler of SF DRS completely denied that story to us. In an exclusive interview with Werner Batliner (Al Walser's spokesperson) we got an inside view on the situation!
Swiss news paper 20 Minuten was the first to launch the story. According to Al Walser, SF DRS did ask to look out for a world star to represent Switzerland in Kiev. Batliner, Al Walser's spokesperson, says that, even though a verbal confirmation of a Jackson family member appearance was given to Al Walser, the appearance of Michael Jackson was “never in question”. “We never even considered asking Michael Jackson for the Eurovision Song Contest. Al Walser is a good friend of the Jackson family, but Michael is simply too big for the contest, apart from some legal complications”, he said.
Earlier, Florian Kohler of SF DRS said to esctoday.com: “SF DRS has never asked Al Walser to look out for top acts, neither have we received any offer concerning Janet or Michael Jackson. Al Walser enroled for the contest with the project Al Walser + 'superstar' but the names of Janet and Michael Jackson have never been mentioned. He has enroled as a candidate for Kiev, just the way Vanilla Ninja and others did. We have chosen for the best and more serious project: Vanilla Ninja in combination with David Brandes, who is one of the most successful composers and producers in Europe”, he said.
Al Walser, who lives and grew up in the Principality of Liechtenstein, earlier participated in the Swiss national final. In 2000 he composed Just for you, performed by Nubya, which finished second with one point less than Jane Bogaert's La vita cos'è.
Batliner replied: “What mister Kohler said is absolutely not true. Kohler contacted Al Walser and invited him over to his office to speak about the Eurovision Song Contest. They agreed that Al Walser would look out for top acts and thus arranged written confirmations of Coolio, Bob Marley's son and Kool & the Gang. Several members of the Jackson family also confirmed verbally. Michael Jackson was not even considered. Mister Kohler's claim that he never asked Al Walser to look out for top acts, is simply incorrect”.
SF DRS did confirm us that Kool & the Gang was one of the top acts who enroled for a participation in Kiev. The American band scored a monster hit with Celebration in 1980. In a recent phone call with Florian Kohler, he again denied that SF DRS asked Al Walser to look out for top acts and that he participated just like all the other participants that enroled. When we asked further, Kohler refused to give any more comments and forwarded us to SF DRS's press service. They never called back…
Batliner added: “I personally think there are political motives for not having persued Mr Walsers written confirmations. For the part of 'choosing the more serious project' I can only say that Mr Walsers seriousness up that point has never been brought to question by SF DRS. Toni Wachter, responsible for this matter at SF DRS, hasn't even informed himself about Mr Walser's suggestions. If you have names like Kool & the Gang confirmed and you're not sure if this is serious or not, all you could do at least is call them or Mr Walser to double-check the situation. Nor of both have been done by any of the responsible people at SF DRS, even though all personal contacts have been provided”.
A complex situation, which can be brought back to just one question: Did Florian Kohler of SF DRS ask Al Walser to look out for top acts or not? Kohler denies the story, Al Walser confirms it. With written confirmations from artists, he stands strong in this dispute. Though, it's still a yes/no conflict between Al Walser and Florian Kohler…
Switzerland internally selected the Estonian girl group Vanilla Ninja for the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest.