Broadcast every Monday at 9:05 p.m. on TF1, the series retraces the Grégory affair, a news item that has profoundly changed the relationship between the public and the media. But is the character of Jeanne Lombardie, journalist at France Inter, inspired by real events?
Tracing the first years of the Grégory affair which occurred in 1986, Une Affaire française, broadcast every Monday evening on TF1 and starring Guillaume de Tonquédec, Guillaume Gouix, Laurent Stocker and Blandine Bellavoir, retraces with precision the course of the events that led to a shocking news item in a small town in eastern France to become one of the country’s most resounding media cases.
If all the protagonists linked to the affair are reproduced as faithfully as possible, both in their words and in the situations in which they are represented, this is not the case for one of the characters: that of the journalist. Jeanne Lombardie, played by Laurence Arné (The part of suspicion), sent by France Inter to cover the Grégory affair.
Denoting in the middle of the names of people very familiar to the public because of the media coverage of the investigation, the producer of the series, Aimée Buidine, explains the function of this character.
“We are in a fiction of reality. All these protagonists who carry their point of view are real people, and there is Jeanne Lombardie, a fictional journalist who represents both a generation and some journalists of the time who tried to investigate, to verify their sources, and who like many people, found themselves caught up in the emotion of the moment.“
According to the producer, Jeanne serves as a gateway into the story for the viewer, so as not to lose track in the face of the multiplicity of protagonists and narrative elements, but also as a link between the other characters. “We have a freedom with this fictional character that we wouldn’t have with real people to interact with certain people, to give an opinion as well. Sometimes there are conversations between Jeanne and Antoine (Stanley weber) on the media machine, questions about collective responsibility …“
“I was happy to interpret this character because it also allowed to show a certain state in the media environment“, adds Laurence Arné.”It was still quite patriarchal at the time, and I find it very interesting to show that it was frowned upon at the beginning to go in the field for a woman, to have a journalistic career, and also to fight on the spot. against her colleagues who start to leave in a scoop race, while she tries to keep an ethic.“
For the actress, Jeanne Lombardie is “a mix of journalists who were pro-Villemin“, while being “more fictional than the character of Laurence Lacour“. Europe 1 correspondent for the newspaper L’Est de la France at the time of the Grégory affair, Laurence Lacour published a few years later The Bonfire of the Innocents, a book against the media abuses that surrounded the investigation. If the latter is not directly mentioned in the series, it was one of the sources of inspiration for the character of Jeanne Lombardy, admits the producer.
In his book, Lacour criticizes in particular the practices of his colleague Jean-Michel Bezzina, journalist for RTL, who has watered most of the major national titles for which he wrote speculations on the thesis of infanticide, having contributed to what Christine Villemin be indicted. An approach transcribed in the TF1 series, where Lombardy is openly in conflict with Bezzina, played on the screen by Michaël Youn.
For Laurence Arné, this character is finally used to defend the party of Christine Villemin. “To be in solidarity and a sorority with her, in the fight against certain journalists who want to demonize her. There was something about a feminist struggle that I really liked about this character.“