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French media anxiously await word on their 'Elvis,' wonder why Americans don't care

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42364000/jpg/_42364881_hallyday_ap203b.jpgThose waiting impatiently for the traffic light to change Monday may not have noticed, but the eyes of France were focused on the corner of Beverly and San Vicente boulevards.

That’s where a rock legend known as the “French Elvis” is lying in Cedars-Sinai hospital, slowly coming out of an induced coma in a medical drama that has engrossed the European continent for the past week.

A swarm of reporters and photographers has been camped out on the corner in tents and satellite trucks for days, causing curious passersby to wonder which celebrity they were tracking.  The onlookers were puzzled when they heard it was pop singer Johnny Hallyday.

Throwing in his French nickname didn’t help either. “You guys are here for an Elvis Presley imitator?” one of them asked a French journalist.

Actually, Hallyday is like Elvis and Michael Jackson rolled into one -- at least according to the breathless Paris-based media horde that have converged on the hospital. 

“He’s supposed to have introduced rock ‘n’ roll to France. He’s our Elvis,” said Benoit Petit, a reporter with BFM-TV, a French television news channel similar to CNN. “If he were to die, we’d be talking about him all day long.”

Keeping vigil has been an exhausting and frustrating experience for the reporters. During breaks, they bypass the Westside’s various French bistros in favor of burgers and Jerry’s Famous Deli.

By mid-afternoon, Hallyday had reportedly awakened from his coma. But the journalists and broadcasters waiting on the corner weren’t entirely certain about that, since the information was coming from Paris, not from across the street.

Officials at Cedars-Sinai have refused to confirm that Hallyday is even a patient, let alone what his condition is. It was unclear whether he was admitted there under that name or the name he was born with: Jean-Philippe Smet.

“There is no communication from the hospital,” complained Katia Clarens, a senior writer for Le Figaro. “There is no medical communication at all.

"In France, sometimes you can find a doctor or nurse who will talk. Here, they keep the secret,” Clarens said, adding that occasional word of Hallyday’s condition has been relayed to France by his family members, who are here with the pop star, and by celebrities who have flocked to the hospital to pay their respects.

From Paris, news organizations forward the latest update to reporters on the corner of Beverly and San Vicente, who relay it back to their French audiences. Still, his Los Angeles hospitalization has gone almost unnoticed in this country.

“All the French media is here, but no American media has been here but you,” Clarens said.

-- Bob Pool in West Hollywood

Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (15)

Because he's FRENCH !

Pinks makes a great chili cheese dog.

Why we don't care? We never heard of him.

The only reason I know him is because I saw a French film a few years ago called Man on the Train. Good film by the way.

A light shined in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not.

I think the american public should learn to be more empathetic. I hope hallyday's recovery is speed and he gets home to his adoring fans so he can do what he does best.

get well soon Hallyday.

Americans--especially in Los Angeles--are more interested in Roman Polanksky's escape to France thirty years ago than the unfortunate plight of a French "Elvis Presley" wanna-be

Honey, Johnny is no wanna-be, and as for comparing him with Jacko, he was around 20 years earlier, and is still in there.
Ignorance is bliss, so you Americans must be so happy.

I just listened to this guy on YouTube, eww, the Europeans have peculiar tastes in singers/musicians. French Elivis? hahahhaha, eww no, sorry French people, hope your guy gets well soon though.

Johnny WHO??

First things first, best wishes to Hallyday and his family and fans. This is fascinating, how a celebrity from a different country is covered by his native media and we here in Lala land don't care. How bout if a Mexican telenovela star were in the hospital, every Latino in LA would be up in arms and the English media would also be like "Who's that?"

If Johnny Hallyday is compared to Elvis, it is not because he would be an impersanator but because he was the king of Rock'n'roll in France and is an idol. He's got his own style of singing, and many of his successes were songs made for him. However after 50 years on stage he still is at the top in France like no other in any other country. Not even Elvis in the US stayed at the top all time.For French people he is a national monument, part of our life and his health emergency kept us all afraid and France is breathing again after the news that your best doctors did a marvelous job. Go Johnny go.

In differents articles, you mention for Johnny Hallyday, "the french Elvis". I must point out, that in France, we never speak about him as "a french Elvis". He is a french rocker and started his career in 1961! At his time he was nicknamed by journalists as "the teenager idol "because it was true and because he sang in french, the Ricky Nelson song "teenager idol". He absolutely does'imitate Elvis! In France he is not a great star,...He is THE Star!

The very same Americans who criticize the French look askance when Mexicans (to name another nationality) are criticized. WTF? Don't utter the word "racism" because neither "French" nor "Mexican" is a race, both are nationalities composed of all races, you knew that, right? -- like most Western countries nowadays. Mexico (and Mexicans) are criticized (often by Mexicans themselves) because the country is DYSFUNCTIONAL, murder rate is 13 per 100K and its citizens have for 100 years been leaving for greener pastures. The French don't really like to leave France. It is one of the world's superior countries -- can we all just get over it and admit that?

Americans do care about Johnny Hallyday. I pray for his recovery and that the doctors @ Cedars-Sinai will be guided with insight to what his needs require. Bon Sante Hallyday, Je espere que tout va bien pour toi.


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