A man from the small screen who became a novelist, Roland Portiche introduced an unknown person full of ambition called Bernard Tapie. The businessman’s debut on the small screen, told by his first director on the occasion of the release of the series Tapie.
While the series on the businessman arrives on netflix on Wednesday September 13, preceded by the anger of his heirs, the discontent of his heirs, Roland Portiche* remembers the beginnings of Bernard Tapie on TV. A story quite close to the fiction produced by Tristan Séguéla and Olivier Demangel and in which Laurent Lafitte is totally astonishing.
LE FIGARO TV MAGAZINE. – How did you meet Bernard Tapie?
Roland PORTICHE. – In 1983, I made TV documentaries for Pascale Breugnot. One day, she asked me to work on a report based on “The saga of the money makers”, a book written by journalist Dominique Frischer. We are at a turning point in austerity, decided by François Mitterrand after the economic failure of the common program. We must rehabilitate the entrepreneurial spirit in a country that ignores or disdains it. Dominique Frischer interviewed what we then called “winners”. We decide to give the floor to six businessmen or creators. Among them, there is an unknown to the general public, Bernard Tapie.
The interview is a real revelation.
I don’t know him at all. I immediately have the feeling of meeting a personality who is out of the ordinary, with exceptional charisma. He has the profile of a warrior in a France where we still view this type of character with suspicion. On this occasion, we are filming a conference at HEC where he explains what he would teach if he were a professor at this school. He then gives, without the slightest note, three absolutely innovative directions: how to get out of a difficult situation by using, as a priority, one’s intuition and resourcefulness, how to learn to sell and negotiate, and the determining importance of leadership.
The show, broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on Antenne 2, obtains a high audience.
This immediately prompts us to shoot a second one with him, “The Good, the Crisis and the Losers”, mainly devoted to how he saved the Testut company. At the same time, there is a third, “The seven shocks of the year 2000”, devoted to major changes, and to retraining solutions in the face of a particularly worrying increase in unemployment.
It’s no longer quite the business leader who speaks…
During this third meeting, I felt the feeling that we had moved up a notch. I saw, in front of me, the outline of a politician. I had confirmation of this between two takes, when he showed me a survey that he had had done at his own expense: an Institute asked a sample of French people their feelings if Tapie embarked on this adventure. The result was rather in his favor.
“His fall has something of a Greek or perhaps Shakespearean tragedy. »
So you weren’t surprised when he became a minister?
I wasn’t surprised when the adventure ended either. He absolutely wanted to try his luck, but he was perfectly aware that they would be waiting for him around the corner, that they would not forgive him for this prank. He paid a high price for it. His fall has something of a Greek or perhaps Shakespearean tragedy.
What memories do you keep from your meetings?
I still remember the surprise of our first meeting. I expected to find myself face to face with a very serious man, even a lesson-giver. I met a man who had a lot of humor. He made me laugh and the familiarity was immediate.
Was it a number?
I didn’t immediately understand it. At the end of the first show, I was captivated by his language, his brilliant ideas, his wonderful tips. During the second shoot, I said to myself: “But he’s already told that!” “. Same for the third. I then understood that his attitude was an extremely well-prepared act!
“What mattered to him was the show. He was constantly showing off! »
On the air, he was, as in life, a free electron…
Absolutely not ! He has always listened to us. Each time, he basically gave us what we wanted to hear, and nothing else. In the third broadcast, he spoke of work sharing, then current, as progress. He ured that one must learn to manage one’s free time. He absolutely didn’t believe a word of it, but he played the game to perfection. What mattered to him was the spectacle. He was constantly showing off! He had measured the power that the media could represent. I think he much preferred this world to that of business! Nothing scared him!
He himself could be frightening.
He could be scary when he got angry. One day, in the middle of filming, I saw him yelling at his staff with unusual force and brutality. He slammed the table several times with such powerful hands that I wondered if he was going to end up breaking it!
Did you detect any weaknesses in him?
Only one: he was morally fragile and particularly emotional. The stress was there, constantly, even if he didn’t show it. I think the year he spent in prison had an impact on his health and may have been part of the cause of the cancer that took his life.
After those three shows, you didn’t see him again.
I lost sight of him in 1985. With Pascale Breugnot, we were the first to bring him to light. Then, he no longer needed us and launched into other shows, in my opinion a little more exciting. Often, I tell myself that if the word charisma was invented for someone, it was probably for them. He broke the screen, he was capable of anything. I remember our last meeting, in his sumptuous apartment on Avenue Foch. In a room overflowing with Louis XVI furniture, he received me in a tracksuit and espadrilles. That was it too, Tapie!
*Roland Portiche published this year “The man who resembled Christ” (Albin Michel)