Showbiz workers crash ‘Academy’

Disgruntled Gauls disrupt TV 'Star'

PARIS — Nearly 5 million French TV viewers received a bigger dose of reality than they bargained for Saturday night when disgruntled showbiz workers besieged the live set of “Star Academy.”

A TV hostess broke her arm, a demonstrator was hurt and three others were arrested in the chaos that interrupted leading network TF1’s primetime schedule for two hours.

The web hastily replaced the program with an episode of hit series “Julie Lescaut,” but lost several audience share percentage points. “Star Academy” was back on the air at 11.

Action by disgruntled showbizzers follows a summer of disruption that halted the Avignon theater fest and other cultural events.

Low-key protests have continued steadily since then, but Saturday night’s was the first high-profile incident in months. Protesters were back outside TF1’s Paris offices Monday.

The workers are angry over reforms due next year that will require them to notch up more work hours before they are entitled to unemployment benefits. They say the change will penalize those at the bottom of the showbiz ladder.

TF1 has pressed for disturbance of the peace and violence charges against the three demonstrators who were still in custody Sunday.

Despite the disruption to its schedule, TF1 maintained its usual top slot among French TV channels, with the end of “Star Academy” nabbing a 42.8% audience share.

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