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Monday, 14 September 2015

Claire Chazal's classy farewell

Another page has turned in broadcast journalism in France.

Sunday evening witnessed a classy farewell from, Claire Chazal, the woman who has anchored the lunchtime and evening weekend news on TF1 for the past 24 years.

Claire Chazal (screenshot, TF1 - her last news programme)

Chazal was unceremoniously "given the boot" after returning from her summer hols.

In much the same fashion as Patrick Poivre d'Arvor (PPDA) back in July 2008, Chazal was "thanked for her services" and given just a few weeks notice.

Indeed, PPDA (among many others) even Tweeted his support and admiration after Chazal's last broadcast, saying pointedly how she had shown "an elegance most definitely missing in her boss" Nonce Paolini.

PPDA Tweet

Her departure probably didn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, it has been on the cards for some time, especially after PPDA was shown the door.

They both came from a different era in terms of news broadcasting.

Falling audiences (ah yes - the news isn't really just about "news" now, is it? Ratings...and advertising revenue also count) and a desire from the Powers That Be to "rejuvenate" the channel's news team are probably the main factors leading to Chazal's rather fast dismissal.

She'll be replaced by her summer stand-in (and 20-year younger) Anne-Claire Coudray.

Chazal's "style",  deferential and somewhat staid, has come in for a fair amount of criticism over the years and the 58-year-old, no matter how popular she might be among the French, has often been perceived as "soft" on her studio guests.

The most recent example came four years ago when  the former International Monetary Fund boss, Dominique Strauss Kahn chose Chazal's evening news programme to declare his innocence and admit to only having made a "moral error" after alleged  rape charges against him in New York had been dropped.

Chazal, a close friend of DSK's then-wife, Anne Sinclair, didn't pursue any real line of journalistic questioning, allowing her "guest" to have his say.

And that was very much her "technique" over the years: one which quite possibly endeared her to the public but didn't sit particularly well with "real news" gatherers.

Chazal's final "goodbye" and a montage of some of her moments, used to pay tribute to her by her colleagues, were fittingly graceful.

She thanked viewers and those with whom she had worked, saluting the "professionalism of the TF1 editorial team"  saying that she left her post with "immense sadness" but wished her successor, Coudray, "as much enjoyment as she had had."

Claire Chazal's classy farewell - would you really have expected anything less?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Friday's French music break - Mylène Farmer and Sting, "Stolen car"

It's seldom that Friday's French music break features an artist who needs little or no introduction - let alone two!

But that's the case of this week's choice which combines the talents of a Canadian-born French singer, with sales of more than 30 million records in France alone during her 30 + year career, and a British "legend' (the word is not used lightly) who (according to the kind folk over at Wikipedia) ranks among the "world's best-selling music artists" as both a solo performer and with his former group.

The singers (songwriters) in question are of course Mylène Farmer and Sting.

There's so much material available on the Net about both artists, that it's unnecessary to go into any potted biography.

But just in case you need some more info, here are the links to their official sites: Mylene Farmer,

The pair have teamed up for a remake of "Stolen car", a track taken from Sting's 2003 album "Sacred love" and given a new lease of life.

Where the original is mellow and mellifluous enough (almost to the point of dull - where did Sting leave his "rock" roots you might wonder), the remake is faster, has that typical Farmer ethereal and slightly over-produced studio touch that has very much become her trademark and benefits from the English-French lyric combination.

It entered the French charts this week, toppling the duo of Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias from the number one slot, even before the release of the official video.

But, once again, thanks to the power of the Net, you can see snippets of the "making of" in which the two "lock lips" (trust the Daily Mail)

And if you cannot wait, there are some rather "tinny" and distant recordings of the song taken from the radio.

For the moment, here's Sting's 2003 version. As soon as the duo's remake becomes available (the first week of October), it'll be posted here

Friday, 4 September 2015

Friday's French music break - Josef Salvat, "Open season"

This week's Friday's French music break couldn't be more removed - geographically speaking - from France.

Indeed, it comes from the other side of the globe. Australia to be exact.

But given that country was also invited earlier this year to participate in the 60th anniversary of the annual musical jamboree fest, the Eurovision Song Contest, it's perhaps not so surprising for one of its artists to be featured here.

And besides, Josef Salvat, who hit it big in 2014 with his remake of Rihanna's "Diamonds" (written of course by another Australian musical export, Sia Furler) actually sings a fair part of his own reworked "Open Season" in French.

Josef Salvat (screenshot "Open Season ) une autre saison" official video)

Voilà, the reason it's this week's pick.

It's a delightful version of a song that swings along, pulling the listener into it's feelgood mood with couplets which, according to music journalist, Jonathan Hamard, are "especially seductive with their percussion and almost martial rhythm" (!!!).

Whatever words you might choose to describe the 26-year-old's song, the overall effect is only enhanced by an excellent video which is a simple but effective pastiche of its own genre, the "making of".

So sit back. Hit the two links below - one for the French version,  and the other for the English.

Compare and contrast - but more importantly, enjoy!

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