Video: The Carson of the Literary Set

France's hottest talk-show host specializes in, yes, books

He has the agility and intelligence of Ted Koppel, the authority and credibility of Walter Cronkite in his heyday and the popularity of Johnny Carson. When his show comes on French TV every Friday night, right after a dubbed version of Miami Vice, it is something of a national event. Some 6 million people tune in faithfully -- cab drivers as well as business executives, concierges as well as intellectuals. But even more remarkable than the lofty status of Bernard Pivot is the subject of his program: books.

Pivot is host of Apostrophes, an urbane 90-minute discussion of literature and ideas...