Robin Williams Death Leads European Morning News Shows

2:49 AM PST 08/12/2014 by Georg Szalai
AP Images/Invision

Britain's Sky News‎ schedules a special report

European news ‎and other networks covered the death of Robin Williams Tuesday morning, with some channels starting off news shows with extensive reports.

In France, news networks iTele and BFMTV led with the story at the top of each hour, with iTele showing on-the-street reactions from Americans in Paris and and interview with Michel Papineschi, the French "voice" of Williams in nearly 30 films.

BFMTV devoted 10 minutes to the story, showing Mel Gibson speaking about Williams at the Expendables 3 premiere and live shots from Williams' star on Hollywood Boulevard. And actor Michel Leeb, who played the title role in the French stage adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire, told the network he was "very moved' by the actor's death and called Williams a "formidable actor."

In Germany, news network n-tv covered Williams' death as the lead item on its morning shows, with a news ticker at the bottom of the screen highlighting reactions from the likes of President Obama and Danny DeVito.

"Hollywood reacts with shock ‎and sadness," one of the anchors of the channel's 9 a.m. news show said at the top of the hour. After a report on the death, the network went to its correspondent near San Francisco for latest updates and reactions. Among other things, she highlighted that Williams' latest TV show, The Crazy Ones on CBS, was canceled after just one season.

Overall, n-tv dedicated about five minutes to its Williams coverage before moving onto other news.

Morning news shows on German general entertainment networks RTL and ProSieben also covered his death.

BBC World News started its 8 a.m. edition with more than five minutes of coverage of the news that also contained a tribute lauding Williams' "comedic genius." 

Stories on his death and reactions to it were the most-read items on the BBC News‎ website as of early Tuesday.

Britain's Sky News, part of pay TV giant BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, ‎also dedicated much morning time to the death of the Hollywood star. It promoted a special report entitled "Robin Williams Dies" that was set to air at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The Sky News website led with a news report on the death along with several related posts, including a tribute and a post entitled "Much-Loved Funnyman Haunted by Addiction."

Speaking on the BBC’s flagship radio news show Today, British comic Alexie Sayle recalled meeting Williams in London in the 1980s after he filmed musical comedy Popeye. “He jumped in cab and said ‘Take me to a comedy club,' and he must have had a really hip taxi driver, as he found himself at the Comedy Store,” the comic said, adding that it was an open mic night and Williams was desperate to take to the stage. When Williams returned another time, he wanted a full-hour slot, even telling Sayle that would “buy the club” and that he had David Bowie with him. “In the end, he did 15 minutes in the club, but he did the other 45 to me in the corridor," Sayle recalled. "I got a private Robin Williams stand-up gig.”

Austrian and Italian TV networks also covered Williams' death in morning news shows along with tributes to the star.

Italian public broadcaster RAI's news network Rai News 24 interviewed people at the Locarno film festival Tuesday about Williams and scheduled an evening special on the actor. 

European news network Euronews, meanwhile, started its morning shows with ‎reports from the Middle East before covering the actor's death about seven minutes into the newscast. It highlighted his various comedic roles but also his serious turns in Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting.

In other parts of the world, the news also got prominent coverage. The national TV networks in Japan covered the story in two- or three-minute slots in their extended late afternoon news programs. Tokyo Broadcasting Systems recapped Williams' long career, his Oscar win, and ran a clip from The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, while also noting President Obama's tribute. Nippon TV's news show also picked up on Obama eulogizing Williams and ran a scene from Night at the Museum.

Alex Ritman in London and Rhonda Richford in Paris contributed to this report.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai 

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