Every Saturday evening, France Beaudoin invites us to a big party. On the occasion of the New Year and for an 11th time, she and her team prepared a mega party for us with kidnapped guests whose names are carefully kept secret.
In the front row, Josée Beaudoin, co-producer of the event's content (with Raphaëlle Leblanc Palmieri), ties the strings to create a unifying event. Starting out as an advertising copywriter and special events writer, Josée made the jump to TV at the request of her sister. As much as they complement each other, they are driven by the same humility, the same generosity, the same desire to please and to work in community so that everyone can shine.
Live from the Universe is a reference in varieties. How do you manage to renew yourself over all these years?
We are all driven by a strong concept that surpasses us. We are transported by the song and quite honestly, we do not need to renew ourselves. Just read what the personalities share when you send them the questionnaire. We simply enter their universe. Nothing is forced. We are the vehicle of what they shared.
How long do you take to build the content of a show?
It varies a lot. We receive 25 guests in a season. A dozen of them receive their questionnaire in April. We're doing a blitz of pre-interviews in May-June. We always try that at least one or two of their favorites are available. It's quite a puzzle. There are always mourning to do, creative constraints. International singers must be booked in advance. Sometimes songs overlap from one guest to another, but if it is significant, why deprive yourself? We say jokingly: it goes on merit! There is always a different way to present it, whether it is in its entirety or in a medley, whether it is associated with a wedding, with a friendship. It changes according to the person who interprets it too. We always do an update because a musical universe is evolving. Even with a week's notice! We also keep holes to react to the times. Stéphane Fallu is a good example. We put together his universe in three and a half weeks. So we always work on three or four shows at the same time, at different levels.
In the case of the New Year's Day special, how do you manage to keep the names of the guests secret?
These are people who have all had their regular universe, so we know them, we start with a base and sometimes they are given a fake pre-interview under a false pretense. Our goal is to make it fun to tune into the date. We know that there will be chemistry between everyone and that they will get the party started. The content of this show still comes from the guests. It starts from a spark or an event that stirred them. The story of one often becomes universal.
There is a nice mix of genres. And the show rallies generations. What do you attribute that to?
It is conditioned by the age of our guests which varies. A song often evokes a memory shared by parents, grandparents and children. It seems like people who watch the show are open to discoveries because they happen through the eyes of a guest they love. It's like a recommendation from a friend. Christine Morency brought us as much into opera as Creole song, Lise Dion introduced us to Dave Fenley, we could see that Isabelle Boulay loves Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Diane Juster agreed to sing for her great friend Dominique Michael. We often wonder ourselves what we are going through!
You have held the lighthouse during the pandemic, despite last minute changes and current events. When we are live, how is it possible to adapt?
We are a close-knit team. The pandemic has allowed us to open up to other ways of doing things. If an artist cannot move or if a place is significant for the guest, one can go there, as was the case of the balcony of the theater where Sandrine Bisson returned in secret to see Marina Orsini in Grease. As content producer, I share the task with Raphaëlle [Leblanc Palmieri], Marie-Claude Lévesque [in the regular season] and France [Beaudoin]. It multiplies the fun and divides the pressure. The whole team from all departments is working really hard and staying on the alert. There is no hierarchy. It really is a gang trip.