The former director of the “Star Academy” tells the backstage of the first editions

In the early 2000s, the star Academy saw the biggest stars of the time, from Mariah Carey to Madonna, passing by Beyoncé. Nathalie André, former artistic director of the program tells us behind the scenes.

A few days before the return of the star Academy on television, Nathalie André, director of the Star Academy in 2003, speaks at the microphone of Céline Kallmann in the BFMTV podcast The headlinethe debut of the reality TV program, which has become cult.

Artistic director of the program for eight years, it was she who brought in the artists, singers and actors. She thus saw the biggest stars of the time pass on the set and in the castle of Dammarie-lès-Lys.

Nathalie André thus remembers the sensational arrival of Mariah Carey, one fine day in 2002, in dark glasses and stiletto heels, who came to meet the students of Star Ac’.

“16 centimeter heels”

“My most beautiful memory is Mariah Carey who goes to the castle. When she agreed on the 2nd season to come to the castle, the limousine parked in front of the castle, the door opened and she got out with her 16 centimeter Louboutin heels, on the gravel… Everyone wondered how we had managed to bring in Mariah Carey!

It was word of mouth that convinced the star to take part in the show. Just like another huge star, a few years later.

“Madonna came in the 4th grade, because Sharleen Spiteri from Texas had told her ‘you can go’ – when she had been harassed for three years! – ‘You can go, we are very well received, the lodges are extraordinary, [tout comme] sound technicians, directors, op’ chiefs. It was magical!”.

Today, everything is different, as the music industry has evolved since the early 2000s.

“Everything has changed, underlines Nathalie André, international stars came on TV sets, and record companies had more money.”

Because it was the record companies that paid and not the production. And the artists quickly ended up jostling on the set.

“Britney Spears, Rihanna or Beyoncé”

“A lot of people thought we were paying the artists.” In reality, the only times an artist received a fee was when he came to perform one of his hits, a “gold”, in the jargon of the trade, and not his title on promotion. “In this case we paid him. But the stamps never exceeded 2000 euros”, specifies Nathalie André.

“On the other hand, when an international star came to France, whether it was Britney Spears, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, the record company had to have a big budget, because you had to pay for the artist’s hotel, musicians, backliners, sound engineer, so it was a huge budget for the record company. But we paid nothing”, explains the artistic director.

But for the record companies, this gamble could turn out to be lucrative in the end. “At the end of the 2nd year, the record companies released the albums between September and December, it was such a success, with more than 12 million viewers that when an artist made Star Academy, the next day he entered the top 10 of the top”, explains Nathalie André.

Magali Rangin, with Celine Kallmann

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