Heated debate on new TV show enthralls Quebec viewers

CBC Arts News/September 22, 2004

Montreal -- People in Quebec are indeed talking about the new late-night TV show Tout le monde en parle, after the leader of the Raelian movement stormed off the set Sunday.

The new talk show, whose title translates as Everyone's talking about it, is based on a French model and is similar in style to the now-defunct Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Like those shows, Tout le monde assembles a bizarre combination of people from different backgrounds each week for a lively debate on a variety of topics.

On the show's second episode Sunday, editorial cartoonist Serge Chapleau began poking fun at Rael, whose Raelian movement believes humans were created by aliens and promotes cloning and sexual freedom.

The cartoonist also made fun of Rael's flowing white garments and his hairdo.

"It's an old dream of men to sleep with a lot of loose women at the same time ... but if I have to wear that suit and hairdo... forget it," Chapleau said.

At one point, he also reached over and squeezed Rael's topknot.

Rael, who is profiled in the October issue of Playboy magazine, eventually walked off the set, and he and his followers are said to be considering assault charges against Chapleau and a complaint against Quebec broadcaster Radio-Canada.

Both fans and TV critics, on the other hand, can't wait for more.

"The topics are hot, so everybody's is talking about it," La Press columnist Yves Boisvert told CBC News. "It's the talk of the town... tout le monde en parle!"

Critic Louise Cousineau said she enjoys the show and its aggressive humour, which she calls "very intelligent."

The show drew 1.6 million viewers when it debuted Sept. 12 and 2.2 million viewers, or about one-third of Canadians who speak French at home, on Sunday.

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