Exclusive / Edoardo Grassi: ‘Big changes are up for France this year’
Olivier Rocher (France)
PARIS, FRANCE – As a Xmas treat, oikotimes.com had the opportunity to chat with Edoardo Grassi, the brand new French Head of Delegation, a young professional, full of enthusiasm…
First of all, can you introduce yourself?
Probably the easiest question! I guess I don’t need to repeat my name! I’m Italian born and raised until I graduated from high school in Florence. I moved to Paris right after to study at the Sorbonne University. At the end of my master program I joined Carson Prod, (a big entertainment production company) where I’ve been working for several years now. I always had a passion for big shows and big TV and music productions such as MTV Music Awards, The Academy Awards (Oscars), the Eurovision Song Contest…
How did you end up as the new Head of Delegation for France?
After being in Copenhagen and Vienna the past 2 years I really felt that I wanted to join the French delegation. I had some ideas that I wanted to share with Nathalie André (former head of Entertainment of France 2). We know each other very well since I’ve been working for several TV shows aired on France 2. After a 2-hour meeting where I told her all my ideas, she was really enthusiastic and announced me that she wanted me as the new Head of the Delegation… I was extremely happy and a bit shocked since I hadn’t asked that much! :D and also Frédéric Valencak couldn’t follow up with the project unfortunately.
How well do you know the former heads of delegations (Mr Berberes and Mr Valencak)? Are they an inspiration for you?
I know Frédéric very well. He is an extremely generous and patient teacher! He taught me and explained me a lot of the dynamics of the contest and we speak very often. He was thrilled that I was chosen to succeed him as we’ve been working together for several years now and we get along very well. I don’t know Bruno that well yet. I know of his casting talents. He messaged me to great me for the nomination. I was very touched. I’m sure we will have more occasions to know each other better. They both did a great job. It’s my turn now. I prefer looking forward not backward on past works. With Nathalie and all the Eurovision team we are trying to break this negative spiral and look ahead.
Now that you are « the Head », how different will be the French interest in the contest from now on? Are you planning any big or small changes?
That’s a tough question Olivier! I don’t think being « The Head » would change anything as we are a new and extremely motivated team. I have to say this is my full time job this year so the interest is certainly more intense. I travelled to several countries to meet up with my colleagues, Federico Llano (Spain Hod), Nicola Caligiore (Italy Hod), I’ve also been to Stockholm to meet with Christer Björkman, and finally to Geneva to meet Jon Ola Sand. It was extremely important to work on a better communication with the other countries. Federico and Nicola are extremely helpful and they are teaching me a lot of things. It’s a hard job to be the head of delegation, it’s a lot of responsibilities and we are very determinate to succeed! We made some very big changes. It’s a bit too soon to talk about this but I will be more than happy to keep you posted!
How do you explain France’s poor results those last years? Honestly, were you surprised?
France has a great music scene. Most of the songs that we sent in the past 15 years where pretty good! Some of them weren’t just appropriate for the show. That doesn’t mean that the title was bad, it only means that the song was not the accurate choice. I must be honest, for some titles I was not surprised. But let’s try to focus on our future choice!
How will you work with Nathalie André (head of entertainment, in charge of the song selection)?
I am extremely lucky to work with such a passionate and cultivated person. Nathalie has been working in the music business for the past 25 years and I must say she knows it all! We are a great match. We think alike, and even if sometimes we don’t, we always come up with a great solution. She trusts me and my daily work.
It was announced that FranceTélévisions had received about 280 entries for the selection. Is this number correct? What are your impressions so far? Any big names?
It is indeed the accurate number! Do you think it’s exaggerated? It’s a tremendous amount of work going throw every title and replying to every person. Some titles are still in the run, some didn’t make it. I’m very happy about some of the songs that are still on the run. And Yes there are a few pretty big names in the Top 10!
Can you tell us a date when the 2016 French entry will be revealed?
It’s going to be around the second week of March. We haven’t made our choice yet. There is still some work to do!
If you had a magic stick, which French artist would you send to Stockholm? What would be your perfect entry?
If I had a magic stick I would send an artist who is candidate to participate! So hopefully I won’t need a magic stick! :D The perfect entry is a catchy title with a positive message. We need to win back the public attention. For this year we allowed people so send us songs with some English as well. It’s important for us to make people understand our message more easily, though it’s also important not to lose our « French touch ».
How strong is your connection with the Eurovision Song Contest? Have you always been a fan of the event?
I’ve been watching the Eurovision for a quite a long time now. It’s an interesting show for different reasons: just because you can’t vote for your own country you must be interested and open to what other countries do on the show. This is why the word “competition” takes a total different meaning. Eurofans are a big family and when they are together there are no boundaries. I like being part of a big nation with people speaking different languages, coming with they own culture but bounding together with no judgment. The perfect world! So this is how strong my connection with the show is.
After 60 contests, what is your favourite entry? Your favourite French entry?
Hard question! I think Laureen’s “ Euphoria” was the best surprising entry ever, and what a performance! I was really impressed that you could barely see her face during the entire performance. She is a genius. My favourite French entry … 2002 Sandrine François’ “Il Faut Du Temps”. She sounds so much like Céline Dion it’s very funny, I’m sure she did it in purpose.
A few days ago, you were in Sofia to observe the 13th edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Does it mean France will be back in the contest next year? What about the other Eurovision events (Young Dancers and Young Musicians)?
It’s not sure yet but we are thinking about getting back on the contest! Who knows… As far as the other contests are concerned, I really don’t know for the moment. I think we have enough to do with the ESC and JESC if we decide to get back, but we aren’t opposed to thinking about the rest.
Do you have any words for our readers?
Stay tuned! Big changes are up for France this year ! I hope you won’t be disappointed!