Lessons on why you shouldn’t serenade Robert De Niro, nor mix Lacroix and Chanel.

I had an unexpectedly peculiar evening in Cannes last night. Pop queen Lady Gaga was in town to appear on Canal+ TV show Le Grand Journal and, when I heard about it, a friend of mine at StudioCanal kindly secured me a VIP seat in the audience. It was a priceless evening which gave me front-row access to the personalities and idiosyncrasies of a French popular magazine programme as well as the incredible experience of watching Gaga perform and speak from just a few metres away.

Despite being on the all-important list, there were numerous security checks and hurdles for me to get past to enter the studio set constructed on the Martinez Beach. That meant the mandatory ugliness from a part-Neanderthal bouncer, turning the name on the list into a hard ticket and handing in one’s passport on entrance into not just one, but two, waiting compounds before hitting the seats.

Canal+ of course has an exclusive relationship with the festival and the two hour ouverture special included a live feed of the opening ceremony itself which, as Cannes tradition dictates, was part-fabulous, part-embarrassing. Melanie Laurent was the enthusiastic hostess, and there was plenty of star power on show in the audience (Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Salma Hayek, Gong Li, Aishwarya Rai-Bachcha,n etc). But nobody is as uncomfortable in front of an audience as jury president Robert De Niro who looked visibly horrified at the standing ovation that greeted him, not to mention the musical tribute to New York City by British crooner Jamie Cullum which involved a medley of Empire State Of Mind (including a bizarre Cullum rap) and New York, New York. During the musical interlude, Laurent tried to get the jury dancing. Only Uma Thurman obliged; De Niro didn’t budge from his hunched embarrassment.

Back to the Martinez Beach. Having cut to an ad break, the studio audience and the hundreds of kids crowding the Croisette around the set were being whipped up into a pre-Gaga frenzy by the warm-up guy. And then the set parted to reveal the barely clad dancers in various poses, followed moments later by the Lady herself performing her latest hit “Judas”.

Her petite head draped in black-and-white hair pieces and a red veil, the scantily-clad popstar rocked the beach before sitting down for a grilling with four Grand Journal hosts. She was nothing less than witty, as she dodged comparisons to Madonna and brought the dialogue around to her fans and her new CD Born This Way. When asked how she responds to claims that her “Judas” video was blasphemous, she said: “I say the only thing blasphemous about my video is that I’m wearing Christian Lacroix and Chanel in the same frame.”

During ad breaks and after the broadcast ended, she chatted sweetly with the presenters and compared style notes before taking off into the ether and leaving the Cannes crowds back in the reality of film festival life.