Alain de Greef, the pioneer and creative force behind pay TV giant Canal Plus’ DNA, has died at 68 of cancer.
De Greef joined Canal Plus alongside Pierre Lescure, who is now president of the Cannes Film Festival, in 1984, two years after the paybox launched. Appointed head of programming in 1986, De Greef helped create the cult talk shows “Nulle Part Ailleurs,” “Groland,” “Les Deschiens” and the politics-themed puppets format “Guignols de l’Info.”
Through “Nulle Part Ailleurs” and “Guignols de L’Info,” De Greef laid the foundation of the so-called “Canal Plus spirit” — a cocktail of anti-conformism, rock ‘n’ roll attitude and edgy, satirical and often burlesque humor that appealed to a wide range of French audiences, including teens, middle-class folks, high-ranked execs and intellectuals.
A visionary, De Greef also helped launch the careers of up-and-coming talent from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds who went on to become some of France’s best-known stars, notably Jamel Debbouze, Alain Chabat and Omar Sy.
Prior to joining Canal Plus, De Greef worked with Lescure at pubcaster Antenne 2 (now called France 2) and launched “Les Enfants du Rock,” another iconic talk show.
De Greef ankled Canal Plus with Lescure following the acquisition of Canal Plus by Vivendi in 2001.
The French industry has paid homage to De Greef with a flurry of official statements and tweets.
Canal Plus credited De Greef as one of its “founding fathers,” and said, “His curiosity, culture, intuition, inventiveness forged Canal Plus.”
French culture and communication minister Fleur Pellerin praised Alain de Greef for his “will to do TV differently, with more spirit, more audacity, more humor and more freedom.”