French Contenders At International Emmys Have Paris On Their Minds

EXCLUSIVE: At an elegant breakfast this morning at the French Embassy on Fifth Avenue, tonight’s International Emmy Awards were the raison d’être but it was Paris and the events of the last week that cast a long shadow. Caroline Proust, a star of nominated drama Spiral, a lauded decade-old series often compared to The Wire, had just arrived after finishing a seven-week run at the Odeon-Théatre de l’Europe of A View From The Bridge — the same Ivo Van Hove production that just opened on Broadway. (Spiral has a devoted following on Netflix.)

The next season of Spiral is being written and soon goes into production. Will it incorporate the attacks?

“I asked the writer yesterday if she’s going to put some stuff in it,” Proust told me, “and she said probably not because the stories already have been set. The Charlie Hebdo attacks affected us of course, but not specifically in the show. But we are all very moved, very shaken. A son of my friend, he lost 11 — eleven! — friends, they were in the café. Eleven, 20 years old. I don’t know how you go on from that. It’s really hard, it’s like war.”

Sydney GallondeSydney Gallonde, one of France’s hottest producers, is at work on an adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s The Pursuit Of Happiness, set in the New York during the McCarthy Era. I asked whether he or film distributor Valérie Vleeschhouwer, who joined the conversation, saw Parisians turning to drama or light entertainment in the wake of the attacks.

“They are definitely going toward entertainment,” Vleeschhouwer said. “Otherwise they are going to watch the news. Its France, Belgium, our sister country, so it’s all around. It’s like oxygen to be here in New York because of the year in Europe.”

“We need to stay strong,” Gallonde interjected.

A similar point of view came from Guillaume de Tonquedec, the star of Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pas Ca, a comedy about two politically at-odds family now in its eighth season.

Guillaume de Tonquedec“What is crazy in Paris is the way people are resisting,” he said. “Last week I went to the theater, and before we went we had a drink with some friends. We were on a terrace, in Paris, and it was crowded with people, more crowded than normal. We are shooting season eight of the show in Paris, everyone is on the set. The technicians, all the people on the team live in the area of the attacks. They are all on set. Everyone is in this spirit.”

And will Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pas Ca reflect the events of the last year?

“One of our characters, the daughter in the liberal family, decides to become a cop,” Tonquedec said. “In January [after the Charlie Hebdo murders], a lot of people said ‘My vision of the police changed and suddenly I see them as protector.’ That’s why we decided to do it with the left-wing family. When the daughter told her mother, ‘I want to be a cop,’ the mother said, ‘Wow, what did I do to deserve this?’ But even she, after some minutes, said, ‘I’m proud of her. I’m sure she’ll be a good cop.’ “

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