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Refocusing Cannes

Canal Plus nixes usual elaborate fest plans

PARIS — The head of Canal Plus’ French TV channel Monday dismissed as “completely false” reports that the paybox will have a lower presence at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival this year as part of wider cost-cutting at Vivendi Universal.

For years, the channel has broadcast its flagship show “Nulle Part Ailleurs” from a fully equipped studio on the beach in front of the Palais des Festivals.

This year, however, “Nulle Part Ailleurs” will stay in Paris, relying on on-the-spot reports, while an alternative half-hour cinema show will be relayed from a suite at the Martinez Hotel.

The irony of Canal Plus’ apparent withdrawal from the festival a year after it tied the knot with a Hollywood studio has not been lost on French media, who think Vivendi might be responsible.

However, at a press briefing at Mip TV, Michel Denisot said the Cannes fest move had nothing to do with cost-cutting.

“It was a decision taken a year ago. It has nothing to do with budgetary choice. It’s an editorial decision,” the exec told journalists, adding: “It was an evolution that we had all felt coming.”

Denisot insisted that coverage of the festival would be improved this year, more focused on cinema rather than the razzmatazz.

“Up to last year, Canal Plus had its festival at Cannes. This year it will cover the Cannes festival,” he said.

Alexandre Drubigny, head of programming, said, “We aren’t going to be small. We have an ambitious program for Cannes.”

However, the number of execs from the channel and the rest of the Canal Plus Group in attendance at the festival could be down considerably from previous years, from more than 300 to fewer than 100.

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