TV & Radio
Who's Next? 2007
International: Ségolène Royal
International: The woman who may be France's next leader is much more than a pretty face.
'Ségo'has turned out to be the most mediagenic candidate in French history
By Christopher Dickey
Dec. 25, 2006 - Jan. 1, 2007 issue - An "Iron Lady" might have been easier for France's old boys' network to deal with. Europe has seen a lot of ferrous females since Margaret Thatcher first appeared across the Channel in the 1970s. But in her rise to front runner in the French presidential elections, scheduled for next April, Ségolène Royal has caught her macho opponents completely off guard. After she announced her ambitions for the top job, Royal was dismissed as a lightweight; critics asked "who would mind the children" if she ran, and derided her glamorous style as "too much container and not enough content."
Big mistake. Last month Royal won the Socialist Party nomination by a landslide, not least because of her style. For a country weary of the same moldering male politicians—current President Jacques Chirac began his political career while Mao was still convulsing China—Royal is the face of change.
She is even something of a surprise to her closest associates. Royal has lived for decades with current Socialist Party chief François Hollande, and worked closely with the late president François Mitterrand. But she was a mere junior minister in the 1990s. Now, on the stump, she's turned out to be the most mediagenic candidate in French history. At 53, she's undeniably beautiful and comfortably chic, wearing bright colors (from Paule Ka for the most part) that leave her gray-suited rivals in the shade. As a campaigner her stamina is stunning. On a recent trip to Senegal, her press entourage marveled that even traveling through infernal heat Royal never broke a sweat. At a subliminal level, "Ségo" taps into the Gallic legends that made a girl in armor, Joan of Arc, the liberator of her country, and a mythical woman on the barricades, Marianne, the liberator of its people.
Her leading right-wing opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, has also staked his campaign on change—in his case, combating Gallic stagnation with more American-style entrepreneurialism. But his medicine threatens to be bitter. While Royal hints at a Tony Blairish centrism, her advisers say she plans to keep her exact positions fairly vague until weeks before the election. For a French electorate that gave extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen 17 percent of the vote in 2002 and sank the European constitution last year, that's just fine. They want their frustrations to be heard; it remains an open question whether they're prepared for the bite of real reforms.
If she wins, though, how will Royal make the shift from listener to leader? There's the hint in her manner of another iconic French character, the institutrice, or schoolmistress, as she flashes a commanding smile when her patience is tested by impertinent questions. That side of her may come to the fore in the later stages of the campaign. Having heard out the people, and decided on the assignment, she'll eventually have to tell the class it's time to get to work. Only then will we know if France is ready for change as a fact, not just as a face.
With Tracy McNicoll in Paris and Dakar
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平成 年 月 日
同性愛者登場で休止の子供番組 放送再開、米で論争 (産経 2006/12/19)
The New York Times
December 18, 2006
Censured PBS Bunny Returns, Briefly
By DENNIS GAFFNEY
What happens to a children’s public television show after it has been attacked by the secretary of education, pilloried by conservatives, then abandoned by its underwriters? In the case of “Postcards From Buster,” it manages to return, belatedly but unbowed, for a second season.
“We were proud of ‘Postcards From Buster,’ and we are proud of ‘Postcards From Buster,’ ” said Brigid Sullivan, vice president for children’s programming at WGBH, the Boston PBS station that produces the show. “It’s a children’s show dealing with diversity by showing real kids in real-life situations. That’s not being done by anyone else.”
In “Postcards From Buster” documentary footage of children from different cultures is combined with animation of Buster and his friends. This season includes only 10 episodes, which began in November and will run through February, a far cry from the 40 produced for the show’s first season.
Children first came to know Buster Baxter, the animated bunny who is the show’s star, as the best friend of Arthur, the animated aardvark who is the title character of another PBS series. But most adults probably first heard of Buster in January 2005, midway into the show’s first season, when word got out that an episode about maple sugaring, called “Sugartime!,” would feature children in a Vermont family with two moms.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings attacked the episode in a letter to Pat Mitchell, the former PBS president, dated Jan. 25, 2005. “Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode,” she wrote. The same day PBS removed “Sugartime!” from its lineup. In the days that followed, the American Family Association, a major Christian conservative organization, orchestrated a campaign of more than 150,000 e-mail messages and letters to Ms. Spellings supporting her position, said Ed Vitagliano, a spokesman for the association.
WGBH responded by independently offering “Sugartime!” to each PBS station. It said that 57 of 349 stations broadcast the episode in March 2005, making it available to more than half of PBS viewers. But the “Sugartime!” controversy made finding funds for a second season difficult.
“All the traditional funding sources backed away,” said Jeanne Jordan, the series producer for the second season of “Postcards.” The Education Department’s Ready-to-Learn program, which had largely financed the first season of “Postcards” with $5 million through PBS, rewrote its grant to eliminate the call for cultural diversity, and PBS did not pursue that grant for Season 2. Neither the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is controlled by Congress and provided funds for Season 1, nor the traditional corporate sponsors of PBS children’s programming would underwrite the show.
The producers, musicians, editors and writers of “Buster” were let go from the show for almost a year; under normal circumstances the second season would have begun in fall 2005. That fall PBS decided to provide most of the money needed for a season of 10 shows.
“We’re very committed to ‘Buster,’ ” said Stephanie Aaronson, a PBS spokeswoman. “Buster is a popular character. Kids love him. We feel there’s not enough programs for the early elementary-age set, and we like the mix of animation and live action.”
With PBS on board other underwriters, among them the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Annenberg Foundation, pitched in. WGBH also found about a half-dozen nontraditional donors, like the Gill Foundation and the Small Change Foundation, which support gay and lesbian causes.
Perhaps surprisingly, this season continues to deal with hot-button issues. In an episode being shown today, Buster visits Fort Leonard Wood, an Army post in Missouri, to meet the family of a father who is stationed in Iraq. On Jan. 29 Buster will learn about the Mexican border, traveling with children to Tijuana from San Diego to meet their pen pals. And in the last show of the season, scheduled for Feb. 19, Buster revisits some children from the first season, whose homes in Louisiana were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Pierre Valette, one of the executive producers of “Postcards,” said that the show managed to approach even intensely political topics, like the war in Iraq and the aftereffects of Katrina, in an apolitical manner. Buster does this, he said, by looking at the world through a child’s eyes.
In the episode from Fort Leonard Wood, for example, Buster must be shown where Iraq is on a globe, and he worries about being asked to do push-ups.
A main purpose of the episode, Ms. Jordan, the producer, said, is to reveal what life on a military base is like, especially for a family that has a member serving in a war. Erin Munoz, a 10-year-old featured in the show, never expresses her opinions about the war. Neither does her mother, Cheri Munoz, or the other adults who were filmed.
In one sequence the cameras catch a phone call from Erin’s dad, Steve, who at the time had been in Iraq for only a week. “We’re happy to talk to him,” Mrs. Munoz tells Buster afterward, “but then we’re sad ’cause we remember we miss him.”
Mrs. Munoz, who watched the episode in a preview screened at the Army base, said she believed it was important for others to see what her family was experiencing. “If you’re a military family, it will give you an opportunity to discuss how you may feel, especially if someone is deployed,” she said. “If you’re not a military family, you can see how you might feel to be in this situation.”
Next season producers are planning to do three specials, sending Buster to Africa, the Middle East and China. Ms. Sullivan of WGBH said the hope was that his travels abroad would attract international supporters, who weren’t interested in providing funds for the first two seasons, which focused on American children.
“The strategy is to aim high,” Ms. Sullivan said. “And if you do the right thing, the money will come. And eventually the controversy fades.”
Public Broadcasting Service