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Cannes Fest Taps Pierre Lescure as President

Lescure will take over Gilles Jacob on July 1.

Pierre Lescure, who co-founded Gaul’s pay-TV leader Canal Plus, has been officially nominated to succeed 83-year-old Gilles Jacob as president of Cannes Film Festival in 2015. He will take office on July 1. The appointment was made today during a board meeting.

As president, Lescure’s role will be to advise and support the festival director and artistic topper Thierry Fremaux, who will remain in charge of the official selection.

The other frontrunner vying for the presidency was Jerome Clement, former prexy of Franco-German cultural net Arte. Clement, however, recently told local journalists that he wasn’t eligible since he isn’t a member of the Cannes Film Festival’s administration board, which is a prerequisite.

Jacob, a film critic and director, joined the Cannes Film Festival as managing director in 1978 and was appointed president in 2001.

Lescure’s nomination has been warmly received by local industryites, citing his ties with French and international talent and filmmakers, as well as his taste for Hollywood cinema, which meshes well with Fremaux’s.

Jacob’s taste for European auteur cinema has shaped the identity of Cannes Film Festival for many years. Fremaux, meanwhile, has been credited for internationalizing and opening up Cannes to high-profile specialty films with crossover appeal since joining the festival in 2001.

A former journalist and radio host, Lescure co-founded Canal Plus with Andre Rousselet in 1984 and became its president in 1994, turning it into a pay-TV giant and a leading financier of French cinema. During his reign as chairman of the paybox, Lescure orchestrated the merger of Vivendi, Canal Plus’ parent company, and Seagram Co., Universal’s parent company in 2000.  Two years later, his ousting from Canal Plus by Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier sparked protests.

In 1994, Lescure also became president of the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team. Since 2008, Lescure also has worked as president and head of operations at Paris’ Marigny Theater.

Lescure returned to the limelight in 2012, after being appointed by Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti to lead an industry consultation and come up with recommendations to draft a new anti-piracy policy replacing the regs already in place. Last year, Lescure served on the jury of Deauville American Film Festival.

John Hopewell contributed to this report.

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