CLOSE

7 Things to Know About Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy is a short, conservative, hard-working Cassanova. He has cracked down on prostitution and negotiated with terrorist bombers to save children. He is an outsider who has worked his way in. Some think he's Napoleon, others say he's Brutus. We're just trying to get a handle on him. Here are 7 things everyone should know about France's President.

1. He Was Mayor by 22

Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, did most of his growing up in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a wealthy community immediately to the west of Paris. His family was not as affluent as those of most of his classmates, a fact he claims was humiliating and largely shaped who he is today. Sarkozy didn't have to wait long to get the last laugh, though. He earned a law degree, which he financed by peddling ice cream and flowers, and quickly jumped into the political arena. At just 22 years old he became a member of Neuilly's city council, and in 1983 he became the city's mayor, a position he held until 2002.

While serving as Neuilly's mayor Sarkozy also made major inroads as a national figure as well, and many Frenchmen thought of Sarkozy as a sort of protégé of Chirac. In 1993 a deranged kidnapper took a group of children hostage at a Neuilly kindergarten, and Sarkozy negotiated for their safe release with the suspect, who called himself "The Human Bomb."Â  (The children all escaped unharmed when police killed the kidnapper.)  Following this incident, Sarkozy became budget minister under Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.

2. He Broke his Mentor's Heart (and Stabbed him in the Back)

Picture 5.pngIn 1995, Balladur ran for the presidency against Chirac. Sarkozy made the surprising decision to turn his back on his mentor Chirac and supported Balladur's candidacy. (The decision was all the more perplexing because Sarkozy had allegedly been romantically involved with Chirac's daughter Claude.) When Chirac bested Balladur, Sarkozy found himself saddled with a powerful enemy and temporarily lost his national position.
Despite this betrayal, Chirac knew that Sarkozy had a certain charisma and drive that made him a political asset. When Chirac won reelection in 2002, he decided to reconcile with Sarkozy, who took on a cabinet position as Minister of the Interior.  France's interior minister is in charge of civil defense and law enforcement, among other responsibilities, which made it the perfect position for Sarkozy to advance his right-wing law-and-order views, including a crackdown on prostitution and a renewed emphasis on road safety. A 2004 reorganization of the cabinet moved Sarkozy to a new position as finance minister, where he helped orchestrate a government bailout of engineering titan Alstom, which had gone bankrupt.

3. He was too Good to Ignore

By this time, Sarkozy was starting to establish himself as France's preeminent conservative. He won the leadership of the Union for a Popular Movement (UPM) in 2004 and left the cabinet to assume this role. From this platform Sarkozy pushed for economic reform, including deficit reduction, a tightening of unemployment benefits for those who turned down work, and tax simplification. During this period Chirac also convinced Sarkozy to return to his previous position as Minister of the Interior.

If Chirac had his eyes on a third term, though, Sarkozy's ambitions quickly laid waste to those plans. As early as 2003 Sarkozy admitted he had his eyes on the presidency; when television station France2 asked him if he thought about being president when he shaved in the morning, he quipped, "I do, and not just when I shave."

4. He's Diminutive

Napoleon established a precedent for French leaders whose ambitions are larger than their inseams, and Sarkozy has picked up this mantle two centuries later.  Reports vary, but most peg Sarkozy's height at 5'5" or 5'6", a marked change from Sarkozy's tall, thin predecessor Chirac.

5. But his Height Doesn't Bother the Ladies

Picture 32.pngSarkozy has been married three times, which in itself isn't all that unusual.  The stories behind his marriages, though, must make French tabloid writers feel like they're getting gifts from the heavens. He first married Marie-Dominique Culioli in 1982; they had two sons before divorcing in 1996.
Although Sarkozy had been plagued by allegations of womanizing, things got juicy well before his divorce. He officiated the wedding of former model Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz to French TV personally Jacques Martin in 1984 as part of his duties as Neuilly's mayor. According to later interviews, Sarkozy asked himself "Why am I marrying this woman to someone else?  She is for me." Despite these misgivings, Sarkozy and his first wife befriended the Martins, even going so far as to become godparents to each other's children.  Cecilia eventually left her husband to live with Sarkozy in 1988 despite the slight hitch that both of them were still married to other people. (Despite this fact, she requested that she be known as Madame Sarkozy; locals preferred to derisively refer to her as "the mayor's whore.") The two were eventually married in 1996 and divorced in 2007 while Sarkozy was in office, giving him another connection to Napoleon, who divorced wife Josephine in 1809. During the divorce, Cecilia accused Sarkozy of being a stingy philanderer. For his part, he could point to accusations that she didn't vote for him in the second round of the presidential election and had undertaken very public affairs of her own.
Sarkozy wasn't wanting for a first lady for long, though.  By December he'd been spotted canoodling with former model and singer Carla Bruni, who's almost thirteen years Sarkozy's junior and a solid head taller.  He was in good company, at least; Bruni's former romantic links include such luminaries as Mick Jagger, Donald Trump, and Eric Clapton. The pair tied the knot in January 2008.

6. He Loves Celine Dion

Sarkozy has some highbrow hobbies, including collecting Rolexes (particularly Daytona models), but many of his interests reflect his upbringing as just another normal French guy.  He unabashedly loves reality TV and admits that he enjoys Celine Dion. Lenny Kravitz told reporters that Sarkozy so enjoyed his album It Is A Time For Revolution that the leader penned him a fan letter about his appreciation.

7. He Has Love Handles (and they get edited out)

Picture 42.pngSarkozy enjoys a fairly chummy relationship with the French press.  When the magazine Paris Match ran a photo of a svelte, shirtless Sarkozy paddling a canoe on vacation in 2007, the leader looked like the picture of health.  What he really looked like was the picture of good Photoshopping, though. French magazine L'Express later exposed the photo as a fraud by uncovering the original, which showed Sarkozy with sizable love handles hanging over his shorts. Although the incident cause a minor stir, it's easy to see why Paris Match would be a bit gun-shy about embarrassing Sarkozy; the previous year he supposedly got an editor fired following the publication of pictures of Cecilia and a boyfriend apartment shopping.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
arrow
Lists
10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 


PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios

"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios