France: “We can't give less than Patricia Kaas”

by Dominique Dufaut 121 views

For the 9th time in a row, Bruno Berberes will be in charge of the French delegation at the Eurovision Song Contest. We recently met him and asked him questions about the artist(s) who will be chosen by France 3. A choice which will more than certainly be made in the forthcoming weeks. This year, Patricia Kaas' name was already talked about mid January 2009.

When did the search of the 2010 French entrant begin ?
Well, in a way, it began the day after Moscow. France Télévisions wants to go with the same strategy as with Les Fatals Picards, Sébastien Tellier and Patricia Kaas. We’re going stronger ! I want to thank those artists who helped revamping the contest. I don’t mean the contest was naff but it’s a matter of image in France.

So you think the image changed a lot?
Yes of course. When you talk about Eurovision within the French show business today, it’s not out of date any longer. It has become somehow easier to convince someone. Eurovision means 130 million viewers. It is also the only prime-time TV show in France where an artist can perform his latest song, and not one of his former hits, which are sometimes 10 years old or more ! And then 2009 brings an audience success, which was noticed by professionals. Besides “Les Enfoires” (an annual charity TV show), it is the biggest musical program on TV.

At last, Russian TV offered such a big show that people in the business were amazed. This production looked like an opening ceremony for the Olympic games.Viewing figures increased a lot.Yes. Patricia Kaas’ participation aroused curiosity, as well as it brought hopes on a possible victory. People came back to see what will happen and I think they liked it. Besides, France Télévisions method was welcomed by the EBU as an effort to revamp the contest, such as the BBC did. We had a lot of work but, at last, we left the bottom 4. Sorry if our Spanish and German friends are still on the way (laughter).

For 2010, have you set any criteria ? Musical style, ballad or up tempo, male, female voice or a group ?
This will be an internal choice with a possible special TV show. On that point, too early to tell it. The artist will be someone very famous in France. It’s compulsory for the viewing figures. Besides fame – and talent to go with, of course ! – no criteria have been expressed. It is obvious that after Patricia, we just can’t give “less”. That reduces the choice. On a personal point of view, I would like to change the style. I wish we could for once dance on the French song at the Euroclub !

Rumours has it that the choice would be someone famous who already competed at the Eurovision Song Contest. Is it true ?
Rumours on Natasha St-Pier ? No, only rumours. But if she reads this interview and wants to go for it again, doors are open for her ! (laughter)

Eurovision 2009 was a success in terms of TV ratings. Which kind of promotion France 3 will go for 2010 ?
The promotion campaign was massive. Of course, the more popular the name, the biggest the promotion. Mind you, we had the French representative on private TV channels M6 and TF1. We never had this before. Not to mention the opening of the TV news at 8 PM. We can be proud of this. It’s a bit like it was the final of the football world cup !

With Denmark and Israel, France’s entry got the biggest gap between televoting and jurie’s voting. What can be learned from that ?
I think it means that songs of a certain quality may not have the instant appeal. It doesn’t mean that the public has no good taste, or less taste than the jurors. Viewers only have three minutes and one listening to make their mind up. But I’m still embarrassed with the result of the 2007 German entry, by Roger Cicero. 18th with televoting and 4th with juries.

In your opinion, how should the contest develop ?
Community voting decreased this year, thanks to the new rules, the return of jury vote, for which countries of the Big 4 struggled for 2 or 3 years. But things can get better. I’m still in favour of a certain part of national identity in the entries. Why not half of the song performed in one of the national languages of the country ? I still don’t understand why a nation like Greece can send such an anonymous song as this year’s ! I don’t criticize the artist. I feel at ease saying this on Greece as I adore the country. On the other hand, I congratulate Moldova and Estonia this year, and all who performed in their language.

Regarding the performance, is there anything you would like to see changed?
Yes, I wish it could be possible to have live instruments back on stage. So that a singer willing to accompany himself at the piano or with his guitar could do it. Same for violin. It will make the contest less artificial. It would be more lively and it is easy to do it.

What do you think about the opening of the televote at the beginning of the first song?
I hope it won’t distort the results. TV producers colleagues I know told me it won’t. It is a like the first and the last position in front of the juries, it changed nothing. Well, what’s funny there is that, before, we all want to sing last and, may be now, we will all battle to sing first (laughters).

Any news of Patricia Kaas? Six months have passed, how is she “living” her participation now ?
I recently had dinner with her. She is very happy. She doesn’t regret anything. She is aware of the fact that song was not made for Eurovision. If it has to be done again (!!!), maybe she’d choose another one.I recently got to Norway and I’m proud of the fact that I met people for whom she’s unforgottable now, people who didn’t know her before the contest.

Some talked about her big disappointment. It is true, she felt disappointed during the following week, like any sportman who misses a podium. But she told nothing bad on Eurovision. I was, in a way , shockhed hearing nasty words in Alexander Rybak’s mouth afterwards. One should not bite the hand that feeds you.

And what about you? Any deception?
All in all, no. I remember, when I watched the previews some months ago, I felt a big danger when discovering the Estonian entry. And then came Norway, and I told to myselft : “We’re dead !”. Everything was here : a smile, an energy, a melody. Still, I hope that being handsome and full of energy will not be the only criterias to win the contest The French song was noticed, we “nearly” had an international success. My biggest regret is to see the Belgian jury not giving a single point to the French song. I think I won’t recover from this! It’s like the nil point from the Luxembourg jury back in 1991, with Amina. One point would have been enough to win!

Between two contests, you lead your own career. Is it busy ?
Yes it is. I was in charge of the casting for musical “Mozart”, which is a big hit presently. By the way, I even imagined that the main performers could go for Eurovision next year, but that was not possible, due to their schedule. I advise eurofans to listen to the record and, still better, to go and attend the show in Paris or anywhere else. The director is Olivier Dahan, who produced the motion picture “La môme”, on Edith Piaf’s life.

I also worked for “Cendrillon” (Cinderella), another musical, which is presently played in Paris. And, for the second year, I’m part of the jury of “L’école des stars” on Direct 8. It is a talent show for children.And then, I’m working with Christophe Barratier, director of French movies “Les choristes” and “Faubourg 36”. He is preparing a musical around the songs of Joe Dassin. I think Dassin would have been an excellent choice for Eurovision in the 70’s.By the way, I meet a lot of artists who were big in the 70’s and the 80’s. Many tell me that they would have sung at Eurovision but they finally gave up the idea, because of the risk for their career.

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