Frank Elstner: Viewers Experience Show Hosts More Privately Than Ever Before

  • Frank Elstner is one of Germany’s most influential television producers. He will be 80 these days and that is why the premiere on Friday evening dedicated a special portrait to him.
  • This time, seven prominent companions are allowed to ask him questions – not the other way around.
  • The result is a thrilling insight into what defines Elstner as a person and a moderator, why he always looks ahead, and that’s precisely why he fears for the future.

What do you really know about Frank Elstner? That he was born in Linz in 1942. Or that his real name is Timm. That he was THE voice of Radio Luxembourg in the 1960s. That he then also did television. “Game without borders” for example. Or “Monday painters”. Later still “People of the week”. And of course Frank Elstner is the father and midwife of “Wetten, dass…?” and is probably associated with it by the vast majority of people.

But otherwise? What do you know of Private Frank Elstner? How does it work, what do you think? In fact, very little is known about him. If you bother, maybe what you can read about him on Wikipedia. Maybe it’s because Frank Elstner is best known as a questioner and less as someone who gives answers. And so it took almost 80 years until Elstner found himself in a situation where HE had to give answers – and only him.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday on April 19, the premiere aired the portrait “Frank Elstner – One more question!” The host meets seven colleagues who are linked to him in one way or another and who ask him questions: Anke Engelke, Günther Jauch, Barbara Schöneberger, Thomas Gottschalk, Michelle Hunziker, Jan Böhmermann and Jean-Claude Juncker.

Each celebrity works on a subject, which is introduced by a short clip: the art of conversation, business, women, radio, young people, family and politics. With seven celebrities popping their questions to Elstner, it’s clear not every celebrity has a lot of time in the 90 minutes. Three, four questions, that’s all. Did “Frank Elstner – One More Question!” so superficial? No, quite the opposite.

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Who is Frank Elstner?

“I was actually told: I’m not allowed to ask a single question,” Elstner himself introduces the show’s concept and it then reveals a bit about Elstner that he doesn’t follow not really this rule. Like at the very beginning of the conversation with Anke Engelke. “I have two key questions for you,” begins Engelke, wanting to know what Elstner’s secret is as a sort of bycatch. But when looking back on the common path, Elstner manages almost unnoticed that both are talking about Engelke and not about him. “First of all, thank you so much for the compliments, you’re also incredibly good at it,” Engelke finds out how he does it.

But Engelke and the colleagues who followed her in the Elstner investigation are of course also professional interviewers and so Elstner doesn’t get away with reversing the tables – fortunately. Because it should be a really exciting evening, where you will learn a lot about Frank Elstner, about his interviewers and about what connects everyone: show business, family, being human.

“Can you learn to moderate? Anke Engelke wants to know and Frank Elstner replies: “I think you have to be born with it, then you have to be particularly hardworking, then you have to be very lucky and then you have to have self-confidence and not become pretentious, but to remain a normal person.” This is an answer that says a lot about Elstner himself, because it does not sound like a description of neutral training, but a description of the path he himself has traveled, from type of moderator he would like to be and how he imagines moderation for others Be nice, stay human.

“Don’t over-prepare, listen and have fun”

Elstner wants the people he talks to feel comfortable with him. On the one hand, because Elstner attaches great importance to a real conversation, and that also means getting involved in a conversation without going in a certain direction by too much preparation: “I am a proponent of not preparing. ” At the same time, however, his interlocutors are more inclined to “get rid of things” in a “joyful mood”. “Don’t over-prepare, just listen and have fun,” Elstner reveals about his method of success.

Trust is important for Elstner in discussions, and therefore it is no coincidence that the host reveals something about himself, especially in the circle of people who accompanied him throughout his life. For example, when he talks to Günther Jauch about successes and failures. People, Elstner said, would think he was extremely rich, but he had always put his money into new productions: “Such a defeat with ‘the nose up’ – you can pay for it for years.”

That he had the right to “Wetten, dass..?” sold to ZDF at a price that would make people smile today, sometimes annoyed him. But when he realized self-pity was taking over, he fought it because it made you less able to act. “I think I did pretty well,” Elstner sums up this fight against self-pity and you immediately think he’s made peace with it.

Frank Elstner: Thirst for the future and fear of the future

It’s moments like this that bring the viewer closer to Frank Elstner and there are some of those moments that night. He talks to Barbara Schöneberger about his professional relationship with women, which he describes as a process, and of which he says: “I found that for a while I didn’t think enough about women. Women were just women, but that they could take on very important roles in our work and that they are better than men, that’s something I first learned by doing.”

Elstner talks to Michelle Hunziker about the importance of family, Jan Böhmermann about fostering young talent, Thomas Gottschalk about the past and Jean-Claude Juncker about the future. The result is a portrait that shows Frank Elstner as a philanthropist who has always been curious about people and life, even at the age of 80, and for whom the future is more important than the past.

And no doubt because of this joie de vivre, this look towards the future is clouded by fear, as Elstner Jean-Claude Juncker reveals at the end: “I’m afraid of the whole right-wing scene. I’m afraid of too many opponents of vaccination, I’m afraid of what’s happening to our climate. I’ve seen so many places where I’ve seen what can happen when animals are deprived of their habitat, for example. The older I get, the more I fear for what’s left.”

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