André Rousselet Dies: Canal Plus Founder & Mitterand Cabinet Director Was 93

André Rousselet, founder of Canal Plus, passed away Sunday at his home in Paris. He was 93. Vendome Pictures, the production company of his son, Philippe Rousselet, confirmed the news to Deadline. Former colleagues, including Cannes Film Festival President Pierre Lescure, have taken to Twitter to mourn the passing (see below).

Rousselet was born in Nancy in 1922 and was educated as a magistrate before turning to politics and business. In 1960, he became the owner of taxi company G7 which is today one of the largest in Paris. Spotted early in his career by François Mitterand, Rousselet became a close friend and advisor, ultimately being named the first Cabinet Director of Mitterand’s presidency in 1981.

The following year, Rousselet became President of advertising giant Havas and in 1984, with the support of Mitterand, founded Canal Plus, France’s first pay-TV network. The fourth channel, as it was known, shook up the French broadcasting landscape with its “Esprit Canal” — a rock-n-roll attitude that put an emphasis on sports, movies and even porn. Working with Rousselet from the early days were such future star execs as Lescure and Alain de Greef. On screen talent from the Rousselet period included Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, who would go on to become longtime anchor of TF1’s flagship news program; a young Alain Chabat, now a hugely successful actor and producer; and longtime talkshow host Michel Denisot. The origins of Studiocanal were also born during Rousselet’s tenure.

After a decade as Chairman, he left in 1994 when a new shareehoders pact effectively handed control of the channel over to Havas along with utilities firm Compagnie Generale des Eaux (now Vivendi) and Société Générale. He continuted to be invovled with G7 and was a fan of contemporary art, AFP has noted.

Upon the news of Rousselet’s passing, Lescure tweeted “André Rousselet taught us freedom, responsibility and how to stand tall, always… Together we lived an incomparable adventure, which, thanks to him, we shared with millions.”

Rousselet’s son Philippe is the founder of Vendôme Pictures and has produced such films as Source Code, La Famille Bélier, Bastille Day and the upcoming What Happened To Monday?.

This article was printed from