September 20, 2010
Posted: 2353 GMT

The French first lady is one of the most talked about women in the world. Her past as a supermodel, her reputation as a man-eater and now, reincarnated as the demure third wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, she has become the subject of intense global media fascination.

We waited for Mrs Sarkozy at the French United Nations mission in New York City. She appeared on the threshold of the interview room – on time – in a black Audrey Hepburn style dress, walked briskly toward me and, wide-eyed, introduced herself.

“Hello, I’m Carla!”

Mr and Mrs Sarkozy are in town on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The French president gave a speech and Carla Bruni spent some time speaking in her role as ambassador to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

We would speak about her humanitarian work and, of course, bring up the controversy stirred up by two explosive biographies published in France last week. But seconds before sitting down, and to our surprise, she insisted on being interviewed with the Fund’s head, Michel Kazatchkine.

“It either happens with him,” she tells me with a smile, “or it doesn’t happen.”

As our team hurriedly reorganized chairs and lighting to accommodate a second interviewee, Bruni’s mobile phone rings.

“Oui mon amour,” she answers in a velvety voice. “I’m just doing CNN and I’m done.”

I’ve seen images and heard Carla Bruni’s voice for two decades. (Full disclosure: I love her songs, music and lyrics and listen to her albums regularly). So it wasn’t without great curiosity that I prepared for our interview.

Why is the fight against AIDS and malaria dear to her?

“To me, it’s important to do something while I stand by my husband while he’s the president of France,” she tells me, “Little by little I thought maybe I could bring some attention to the work that the Global Fund does.”

And boy does attention follow Carla Bruni wherever she goes.

The two Carla Bruni books have only added to the worldwide interest in the former model.

In “Carla And The Ambitious” (the title makes much more sense in French, to be fair), Carla Bruni allegedly said U.S. First lady Michelle Obama told her White House life was “hell.”

Is it true?

“Of course Michelle Obama never said such a thing,” Bruni answers. “Not one book that has come out about me was authorized. But of course, I live in France and France is a free country where anyone can fantasize and publish it.”

What about those much more damaging allegations in the book that Carla Bruni-Sarkozy used secret French police files to uncover a plot to oust her or to find out who was leaking damaging rumors about her?

“I’m happy to disassociate myself not only form this book but from all books,” she says. Bruni added said she could technically take legal action, but that she considers that an “undemocratic” move and that she never does it “by principle.”

Before the interview, the New York bureau called me to say there was new video of Carla and Nicolas Sarkozy cuddling and hugging on a United Nations escalator.

I asked her about her very public display of affection for her husband, whose popularity in France has plummeted and who’s facing ferocious criticism for his pension reform plans and France’s expulsion of Roma gypsies.

Bruni puts her index finger on her lips, as if to say “Shhh, I’m embarrassed!” but then readily answers:

“We just met! We are brand new spouses. It’s been three years. And of course all this pressure that he has on his shoulders brings us even closer.”

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Filed under: Carla Bruni

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deepwater805   September 21st, 2010 3:02 am ET

Carla is hot!!!!!!!!

Eric M   September 21st, 2010 3:33 am ET

Taken from your homepage title – are you chatting "to" Carla Bruni, or "with" her??

Beavis and Butthead   September 21st, 2010 4:00 am ET

Butthead: Duhhhhh, duhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh! Hey, Hala, thank you for interviewing the French First Lady. I love her very much! And you, too, babe (Come to Butthead, baby!)
Beavis: yeah yeah! Heh-heh! heh-heh! We wanna thank CNN (COOL NEWS NETWORK) for interviewing her! Carla Bruni rules!
Butthead: She kicks @ss!

Gil   September 21st, 2010 4:16 am ET

This is a Lady

Hector   September 21st, 2010 4:40 am ET

Carla Bruni is such a classy, sincere and talented lady. She has lived her life with freedom and come to a stop now, as we all should. I missed today's I Desk, I hope the interview will repeat.

Evertsas   September 21st, 2010 5:34 am ET

Was anything actually SAID about her participation in the Aids fund? What was relayed from this interview is regrettably shallow and on the verge of pertaining to a gossip magazine rather than to CNN.

Koge   September 21st, 2010 5:40 am ET


power4things   September 21st, 2010 6:01 am ET

Hey, our first lady in USA does things too – like complain and hire more staff! Too bad she doesn't look like this (yes, it does count, I'm afraid ...)

b4us   September 21st, 2010 6:25 am ET

fake person

Manideepa Patnaik   September 21st, 2010 7:13 am ET

That was a great interview, Hala. That's you. Manideepa

Jack   September 21st, 2010 7:57 am ET

I would have told her that "OK – the interview would not happen" – with an attitude like that. Some of what the Tehran press printed about dear Carla is actually true, alas, and she makes a terrible goodwill ambassador for anything. I hope that she and her incredible shrinking husband disappear after 2012...

zepo   September 21st, 2010 11:31 am ET

Carla est aux Etats-Unis ?

s'il vous plait, gardez la !

Et, pour ne pas lui arracher de feintes larmes de crocodile, gardez également son mètre 68 de mari

je vous en conjure, au nom de l'amitié franco-américaine... qu'ils de traversent plus l'Atlantique !

Tom   September 21st, 2010 2:58 pm ET


After I got Kyra Phillips to tweet again, now I call for Jonathan Mann or his producers to do the same.

Thanks indeed.

Jack   September 21st, 2010 3:34 pm ET

Complètement d'accord, zepo. Quelle honte...   September 21st, 2010 9:35 pm ET

must be ideol for french people.

dutcham   September 22nd, 2010 9:15 pm ET

There is absolutely nothing real about this woman.

Muthyavan.   September 23rd, 2010 1:32 am ET

In the fast changing world cultures France,Paris and its first lady Carla represent the future of modern way of life. Congratulations to CNN again for getting such a vibrant new trend for public view. Thanks again.

TERRY S. AKA JOHN DOE   September 30th, 2010 4:50 pm ET


elmer gibson   October 11th, 2010 2:27 pm ET

bring back rick sanchez

H. Gilaume   December 1st, 2010 3:18 pm ET


Heeey That's cool and I wanna read more and more, but sadly there's few.
anyway your blog's marvelous, Hala. please and try to keep this blog updated.

Omar Haleem   December 12th, 2010 3:38 am ET comment.. I just hope she understands, this is a very jaded world we live in...the wide eyed innocence has left it. She needs to get her nails done with those freddy kruger gloves and bitch about him. To think i actually though she would be the one to kickstart the first ladies organization. Where the french and US relations are concerned. I tend to see the statue of liberty and wonder and american naivete. Don't they see the insult?...which is why i propose that alqaeda destroy it and urge the US to have it replaced with a beautiful Madonna dressed as a mermaid. I insist that they keep her torso naked and that she be built from solar panels sculpted to her delectable form and they have all sorts of health and fitness goodies available under her fin.

Omar Haleem   December 12th, 2010 3:41 am ET

hmme..that reminds me why I'm here, i was going to bitch myself about Hala not being at her desk..she must be on vacation..Happy New Year and Merry Christmas Hala. Do ask Anna to forward you my 2010 best wishes..:)

Siya   December 23rd, 2010 11:50 am ET

Personally I don't digg Nico, I think he is a prude and quite selfish. Carla on the other hand seems nice and well grounded...I guess your other half will always be your opposite number. I also don't agree with his pension plan...Nico bad Carla good... (World and SA politics analysed)

Bobusun Benjamin   April 12th, 2011 3:04 pm ET

Hi Hala,

Do you know that, the french first lady,Carla look's very lovely.

Bobusun Benjamin

femi amele   April 12th, 2011 4:26 pm ET

Fascinating Article

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