|Occupation||Journalist, television personality|
Pivot was born in Lyon, the son of two grocers. During World War II Charles Pivot, his father, was taken prisoner and his mother moved the family home to the village of Quincié-en-Beaujolais, where Bernard Pivot started school.
In 1945 his father was released and the reunited family returned to Lyon. At age 10, Pivot went to a Catholic boarding school where he discovered a consuming passion for sport; a passion which helped teachers overlook his general mediocrity in all traditional school subjects except French language and history.
In 1971, the Figaro Littéraire closed and Pivot joined Le Figaro. He left in 1974 however, after a disagreement with Jean d'Ormesson. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber invited him to start a new project which led to the creation of a new magazine, Lire, a year later.
Meanwhile, he had begun hosting a television program in April 1973 called Ouvrez les Guillemets on France's first TV network. In 1974, the ORTF was dissolved and Pivot started his Apostrophes programme. Apostrophes was first broadcast on Antenne 2 on January 10, 1975, and ran until 1990.
In the month before the UK was due to leave the European Union in October 2019 after three years of fruitless public debate, Pivot tweeted (in translation): “I propose to insert the word “brexit” (without capital letter) into the French language. It will indicate a cacophonous and insoluble debate, a bloody shambolic reunion or assembly. Example: the meeting of the joint owners ended in brexit.” (The inclusion of the British expletive is supported two-fold by the Collins-Robert French Dictionary.)
In 1985, Pivot created the Championnats d'orthographe (spelling championships) with linguist Micheline Sommant, which in 1992 became Championnats mondiaux d'orthographe (world spelling championships), then the Dicos d'or (golden dictionaries) in 1993.
These yearly contests are held in three phases:
- During the spring, selection tests are organised with the press, in particular with Lire, and in a few local communities (e.g. schools). These are multiple-choice questionnaires.
- During the fall, the selected candidates meet region by region at the semi-finals. They are again given multiple-choice questionnaires, plus a dictation.
- Then, during winter, the finals are held in a single place.
There are four categories: school juniors, juniors, professional seniors and amateur seniors.
Participation is free of charge, except for the cost of the magazines that publish the selection tests.
- Apostrophes (1975–1986)
- Bouillon de culture (1991–2001)
- Double je (2002–2005)
Bernard Pivot and James Lipton
James Lipton was inspired to create Inside the Actors Studio by a chance viewing of a Pivot program on cable TV. Lipton adapted Pivot's use of a Proust Questionnaire to one that he himself used at the end of each episode of Inside the Actors Studio.
However, the question "If God exists, what would you like Him to tell you when you're dead ?" was considered potentially offensive to US audiences and replaced by a more accepted "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"
Pivot became aware that Lipton was inspired by his questionnaire, and invited Lipton to appear on the final episode of Bouillon de culture.
Controversy around childhood
On November 26, 1973, he invited the pedophile novelist Tony Duvert onto his show Ouvrez les guillemets, who refused, letting his editor and supporters Jérôme Lindon and Alain Robbe-Grillet promote his book.
On May 30, 1975, he received Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita on Apostrophes; on December 12, 1976, Michel Foucault, who criticised psychoanalysis and "contractual sexuality" based on consent or non-consent, with René Schérer, Guy Hocquenghem and François Châtelet; on October 14, 1983, Renaud Camus, defender of the pedophile cause; on April 23, 1982, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who described ambiguous relations with kids in kindergarten; on March 2, 1990, Gabriel Matzneff, whose book Mes amours décomposés was highly criticised; on February 23, 2001, Catherine Dolto, to talk about the legalization of pedophilia, in Bouillon de Culture; and in 2005, Michel Tournier, whose references to pedophilia were published in La Pléiade in 2017.
On March 17, 2013, he defended Alexandre Postel's book, Un homme effacé, which described a man who owns explicit pictures of children on his computer and on October 30, 2016, La Mauvaise vie by Frédéric Mitterrand, as a "brave book, very brave, a kind of secular confession where each confession, as in Georges Perec's "Je me souviens…", starts with "Je regrette…".
In 2017, neuropsychiatrist Louis Masquin in the catholic review La Croix, described the introduction of pedophilic literature on French television in Bernard Pivot's shows as the "reflection of the "pedophile adventure", "considered approximately normal".
In 2019, he underlined on Twitter that "cardinals, bishops and priests who rape children don't believe in heaven or hell", criticizing the influence of the Vatican II reform. In September 2019, he declared on Twitter: "In my generation, boys looked for little Swedish girls who had the reputation of being more open than French girls. I imagine our surprise, our fear, if we had approached a Greta Thunberg". Julien Bayou, from the environmentalist party, Europe Écologie - Les Verts, answered: « you're talking about a minor » and French feminist Caroline de Haas asked him to delete his post, something he refused to do. He was immediately defended by essayist Eric Zemmour. In December, Bernard Pivot apologized for allowing Gabriel Matzneff to describe his relationships with teenage girls and boys on his literary talk shows without challenging him.
- Bernard Pivot président de l'Académie Goncourt: "Le destin ne se refuse pas", L'Express
- Official website Archived 2008-11-19 at the Wayback Machine, Academie-goncourt.fr
- Chronicle by Susan Heller Anderson, The New York Times
- French TV Show on Books Is Ending, The New York Times
- ARTS ABROAD; Adopting a Country, Then Crashing Its Best-Seller List, The New York Times
- Governor General
- Canada Gazette Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "Je propose de faire entrer le mot "brexit"…". Twitter. September 10, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- The New York Times
- Ouvrez les guillemets : émission du 26 novembre 1973, INA
- L’Infini, Gallimard, n° 59, automne 1997, « La Question pédophile »
- Est-ce que l'INA a fait disparaître les propos de Daniel Cohn-Bendit sur la sexualité des enfants ?, Libération
- Quand l'attrait de Gabriel Matzneff pour les jeunes enfants était dénoncé chez Pivot, Les Inrocks
- Michel Tournier sous la loupe de Bernard Pivot, Le Figaro
- Journal du dimanche Arrêté sur images, Le JDD
- Frédéric Mitterrand : "Je regrette…", la chronique de Bernard Pivot, Le Journal du Dimanche
- Le lent changement de regard de la société sur la pédophilie, La Croix
- Greta Thunberg’s defiance upsets the patriarchy – and it’s wonderful, The Guardian
- Bernard Pivot assume son tweet sexiste sur Greta Thunberg, Huffington Post
- Discours d'Eric Zemmour à la convention de la droite, Adoxa
- French publishing boss claims she was groomed at age 14 by acclaimed author, The Guardian
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