Tag Archives: Newen Distribution

France’s finest

From a pair of mystery dramas and the introduction of the ‘female Columbo’ to the story of a film director forced to make a new version of King Kong for a power-mad dictator, French drama is set to enjoy a breakout year. DQ casts its eye over some of the new series coming to the small screen.

Baron Noir season two
The ‘French House of Cards’ returns. Produced by Kwai for Canal+ and distributed by StudioCanal.

Why was Baron Noir season one so successful around the world?
Producer Thomas Bourguignon
: Politics is back – and even if Baron Noir is about French politicians, it deals with the same problems every politician has to face. That’s the reason the show reaches a global audience. The style of the series also had a great impact. Baron Noir is a thriller, a very tense drama with a cinematographic style, a dramaturgy you can’t escape, and editing that makes it as addictive as possible. The performance of the actors is also astonishing. It’s a universal story of revenge, which is one of the most powerful motivations in a drama.

How does season two move the story forward?
We shot season two during the French presidential and legislative elections. No one is capable of predicting what is going to happen, so we have decided to follow our own story. What’s important is that the preoccupations and the big picture of the politicians’ lives are accurate and realistic, whoever is running the country in real life. So in season two, Amélie Dorendeu (Anna Mouglalis) is elected president and Philippe Rickwaert (Kad Merad, pictured) is her special advisor. But democracy is threatened by two evil forces: jihadism and the far right. Our two lead characters become ever more divided and separate from each other and fight to save the republic.

What are the biggest challenges in producing the series?
We started shooting with four scripts out of eight, because of the availability of the cast. It was a challenging race to have the final scripts ready to shoot and keep the quality.

Zone Blanche (Black Spot)
A local sheriff seeks the truth about a mysterious town. Produced by Ego Productions and Be-Films for France 2 and distributed by AB International Distribution.

Where did the idea for Black Spot come from?
Series creator Mathieu Missoffe
: Based on initial conversations with producer Vincent Mouluquet, I originally set out to build a strong mystery set in an isolated place that would feel familiar and strange at the same time. We knew this had to be a very visual show to stand out, so we moved away from traditional urban crime shows, instead focusing on a small, colourful community surrounded by hostile and untamed nature. This is how our fictitious town of Villefranche came to life, a place that has its own rules and atmosphere, with a blend of influences ranging from Twin Peaks to Nordic noir.

What is the style or tone of the series?
The show borrows from different genres to create its own unique identity. It doesn’t shy away from gritty crime scenes, but we twisted familiar crime show elements by adding a western movie look and occasionally flirting with fantasy as far as the surrounding nature is concerned. A slight touch of comedy is also part of the mix – a necessary addition to create the kind of entertainment we feel is relevant for today’s general audience.

How is French drama evolving?
The good news is that most of the old taboos that used to drag down French fiction have now collapsed. Politics and religion are back on the map, while darker and edgier stories are gaining traction. It’s definitely an exciting time, with our traditional realistic auteur shows now able to coexist with series that are trying to open new doors in entertainment with exotic locations, big-budget coproductions or new genres. At the same time, talents in front of and behind the camera are finally crossing over between film and television, resulting in even more opportunities.

Capitaine Marleau (Chief Inspector Marleau)
A ‘female Columbo’ tackles crime with her own offbeat methods. Produced by Passion Films for France 3 and distributed by France TV Distribution.

What are the origins of the show?
Producer Gaspard de Chavagnac
: Our lead actor Corinne Masiero (far left) first portrayed Capitaine Marleau in French miniseries Entre Vents et Marées (Between Winds and Tides), directed by Josée Dayan. She played the part with such wit and originality that we immediately decided to pitch France 3 the character as the heroine of a new cop series. The network did not hesitate long before ordering a 90-minute pilot.

How was the series developed with France 3?
After the success of the pilot, written by Elsa Marpeau and again directed by Josée Dayan, France 3 agreed to develop two more episodes and then three others. We are currently producing the second season.

How did you cast the series?
As Masiero was not very well known, we sought famous guest stars for each episode. Gérard Depardieu agreed to appear in the first episode, followed by other actors familiar to French viewers – including Victoria Abril, Muriel Robin, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Sandrine Bonnaire and Pierre Arditi. The result was an average of 4.3 million viewers for our first four episodes.

La Forêt (The Forest)
A small town is gripped by fear when people begin to disappear in a mysterious forest. Produced by Carma Films for France 3 and distributed by About Premium Content (APC).

Tell us about the show.
APC founder and joint CEO Emmanuelle Guilbart
: The Forest is a modern crime series with a gripping story set against a mysterious background. An audience-friendly thriller at heart, it does not, however, shy away from social themes, setting out to provide a realistic portrayal of issues surrounding today’s youth.

How would you describe the writing process?
Contrary to the current writers room trend, The Forest was written by a single screenwriter, Delinda Jacobs. She came to us with a very precise idea of what the show would look like and the commissioning channel, which wanted to modernise its line-up, was very supportive from the start.

What was the biggest challenge during production?
The biggest challenge for us was finding the right actors. We wanted the story to feel real, with life-like characters and true emotions, so we spent a lot of time looking for people who were able to convey this feeling to the audience. We think we found the right team with Alexia Barlier (pictured left, 13 Hours), Suzanne Clément (Mommy, Laurence Anyways) and Samuel Labarthe (The Little Murders of Agatha Christie) for the main roles.

What new stories are being told in French drama?
French drama has always had a social focus and a taste for realistic and intimate stories. What’s changing is that there is now a new appeal for modern narrative forms, new genres and writing techniques. The Forest is definitely part of that movement, keeping in line with parts of the French cinematic tradition but opening up to new and highly effective ways of telling stories.

Les Témoins (Witnesses) season two
The return of the atmospheric crime thriller. Produced by Cinétévé for France 2 and distributed by Newen Distribution.

Why was Witnesses season one so successful around the world?
Director Hervé Hadmar
: The plot, the atmosphere and detective Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier, below right). The audience just wants to know who this woman is.

How does season two move the story forward?Witnesses is, of course, the story of Sandra. In season one, she has learned that the ‘ideal family’ does not exist. Her husband is not Prince Charming – and Sandra herself is not so perfect. At the beginning of season two, she’s living alone with her two daughters. She still believes in love, of course, but has to ask herself, ‘Is love the greatest danger?’ As for the main plot, it centres on unravelling what happened to 15 men who are found dead, totally frozen, on a bus. It emerges that they all loved the same woman, Catherine Keemer (Audrey Fleurot, below left). Who is Catherine Keemer? Is she responsible for their deaths? Season two explores the relationship between Sandra and Catherine.

How would you describe your directing process?
I do not fight against the ‘principe de réalité’ – pressures of time or accidental events. I’m trying to use those little incidents, bad weather, for example, to create something new. I have learned to be excited by asking myself, ‘What the hell is going to happen today?’

What is the style or tone of the show?
A Nordic noir with a delicate, strange and almost hypnotic atmosphere.

How is French drama evolving?
With more mature themes and artistic values. Challenging ourselves and challenging the audience is very important. We have learned to take risks but there is still a lot of progress to make. For that, let’s hope success will continue to knock on our doors.

Transferts (Transfer)
Five years after a man drowns, his mind is transferred into someone else’s body. But at a time when ‘transfers’ are outlawed, he must live undercover to avoid detection. Produced by Filmagine, Be-Films and Panama Productions for Arte, and distributed by Lagardère Studios Distribution.

What are the origins of the show?
Producer/co-writer Patrick Benedek
: The series grew out of my friendship with Claude Scasso. For a while we’d been wanting to make a thrilling sci-fi series, aware that in France, at the time, no network wanted to go down that road. It was very liberating for me – I could give free rein to all my beginner’s mistakes! I didn’t imagine for a minute that the project would see the light of day.

How would you describe the writing process?
Claude and I worked on the conception and construction of episodes together, in meetings and with notes. We spent entire days projecting ourselves into our characters and our universe – with a creative purpose but also with a keen critical eye on each other’s proposals – until we got that exhilarating feeling that we had something. That’s the advantage of knowing each other well, of not having an oversized ego and of being a team. After that, Claude would write a first draft of the treatments, which I would then rework. Finally, he would go over what I wrote, and I would go over what he did, until we were both satisfied.

What were the biggest challenges during production?
In France, it’s always the same problem – do as much as possible as well as possible with the little financial resources we have. This means always knowing how to get the most out of your resources; knowing how to distribute them while maintaining your artistic vision.

Kim Kong
While filming in Asia, a director is kidnapped by a neighbouring dictatorship and ordered to make a new version of King Kong. Produced by Kwai and Armance for Arte and distributed by FremantleMedia International.

What are the origins of the series?
Producer Thomas Bourguignon
: The idea came from Simon Jablonka, the screenwriter. He told me the story of a South Korean director, Shin Sang-ok, who was kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and told to direct movies, notably a remake of Godzilla, which was called Pulgasari. We wanted to make a show about this situation, with a guy who is kidnapped by a dictator who wants him to make a movie. The other inspiration was Misery, Stephen King’s novel with a similar theme, being about an author who’s kidnapped by an deranged fan and forced rewrite his last book because she’s not happy with it. But our story is not about a specific regime or specific country; it’s really about creativity and constraints.

How do you balance the drama with elements of comedy?The situation is very dramatic from the beginning to the end, but in a similar style to movies like Gold Rush, M.A.S.H. or The Ladykillers. The subject is very serious and dramatic but we build in several contradictions that create comedy. It’s a question of life and death but the director has to deal with an inept crew, equipment that dates from the Cold War and the crazy demands of the leader, so there are lots of elements where you can do nothing but laugh.

What was the biggest challenge?
Mostly the casting and the language (with the show being filmed in French and Chinese). But also working out where we were going to shoot. As our dictatorship doesn’t exist in real life, we looked for a location for months before deciding to film 90% of the series in a studio in Paris.

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Welcome to the jungle

A new French drama is set to take Canal+ viewers on a thrilling ride deep into the Amazon jungle. Creator Fabien Nury and producer Bénédicte Lesage tell DQ about their own journey with Guyane (Ouro).

When Parisian geology student Vincent heads to French Guiana to complete an internship at a gold-mining company, he quickly falls under the wing of a local gold lord and into the lucrative world of trafficking the precious metal.

So begins a heart-stopping adventure ride in Guyane (aka Ouro), French pay TV broadcaster Canal+’s original drama from creator Fabien Nury and director Kim Chapiron. Led by a cast including Olivier Rabourdin and Mathieu Spinosi, the show will take viewers deep into the Amazon jungle for an experience distributor Newen Distribution vows they will never forget.

Guyane is produced by Mascaret Films and distributed by Newen Distribution, who have already sold it to RTL Crime in Germany.

Here, Nury and Mascaret producer Bénédicte Lesage tell DQ how the eight-part story – which debuts tonight – was pieced together, how they settled on a visual identity for the series and the challenges of filming entirely on location in a remote and isolated environment.

Guyane creator Fabien Nury on set

Where did the idea for the show come from?
Fabien Nury: I have to say, even if it’s not romantic, that it was an order from Canal+. They wanted an adventure story set in modern-day French Guiana, and that was it. I asked them if it had to deal with illegal gold mining, which is ongoing in the region, and, of course, they said yes. My first idea, which stayed true to the end of the season, was that if we told the story of one illegal gold site, it would give us a great look at the reality of the entire process. It all comes down to this: nowadays, 5,000 miles away, men risk their lives in the wilderness, kill and get killed for a fistful of gold. It’s real and it’s happening today.

How was the story developed for the broadcaster, Canal+?
Nury: We defined a genre – ‘crime and adventure’ – and a double point of view: a young newcomer, Vincent, and an ageing gold kingpin, Antoine Serra. We also defined the level of realism we needed – and with that, the pace of our storytelling. High realism means a slower pace but we needed our story to remain believable and to move fast. So we decided to aim for something closer to Breaking Bad than The Wire.
The rest of it was, mostly, a lot of work – a great deal of research, narrative construction, writing and rewriting. Once the pilot was constructed, written and dialogued, I decided to complete a full treatment of the entire season – around 100 pages – to have the storylines, character arcs and structures precisely mapped out for everybody working on the series. It took a long time but, in the end, it proved useful.

How would you describe the writing process on the show?
Nury: Exhausting. The treatment helped a lot. I had collaborators, Sabine Dabadie and Frederik Folkenirnga, who did research, took notes and discussed the story with the producers and myself, but at some point it was decided that I should write every episode of the first season to maintain the consistency and the style of the show. Like always, the first part felt like a marathon and the last part like a sprint. I still had to complete four episodes once pre-production had started. I was lucky enough to find most of my work validated by people living in French Guiana, or familiar with the gold business. It gave me enough confidence to complete the second half of the season, while polishing the first half with the directors.

Canal+’s Guyane centres on the world of South American gold trafficking

How did you work with the directors on the visual style and tone of the series?
Nury: Kim Chapiron, the first director, always shoots in a documentary style: hand-held camera, lots of takes and heavy editing. In the end, a number of shots were way above average. I believe this style matches quite well with the first half of the season, while we’re still in discovery mode. It makes us feel there’s life around the story. Then Philippe Triboit efficiently took over, adjusted his own style to Kim’s and streamlined it a bit, to add intensity as the season went on. And I directed the last episode, focusing mostly on the characters, the violence and the hell they’ve created for themselves. It was only possible because the environment and characters had been brilliantly established by Kim and developed by Philippe.
I was very happy to direct the season finale; I can’t help it, I like endings more than beginnings. There’s always more emotion to saying goodbye than there is to saying hello. Directing was hard and stressful work too, but I saw it as a great reward. And I tried to bring a real feeling of closure to the finale, like the last chapter of a novel. Of course, there will be other seasons, other “novels” with these same characters and the ending has to remain open and promising. But it can’t be just one more episode with a cliffhanger. As a viewer, I always resent that kind of trick. I take pride in thinking we avoided it.

Who are the lead cast members and what do they bring to the series?
Bénédicte Lesage: The cast – Olivier Rabourdin (who plays Antoine Serra), Mathieu Spinosi (Vincent), Issaka Sawadogo, Anne Suarez and Flora Bofanti – are highly talented actors from a wide variety of backgrounds, who shared a passionate interest in embodying a new type of character and in participating in this great jungle adventure. They worked on location as they might have in a theatre or on tour, some 5,000 miles from home. They drew inspiration from the fabulous natural settings of French Guiana, of [capital city] Cayenne and its hinterland, the natural beauty, the tropical heat, the harsh conditions, the mosquitoes and the exhaustion. They also found strength in their local partners, Guianan actors, many of them non-professionals but filled with a desire to act and a great sense of accuracy too, which re-energised everyone’s passionate fervour.

Guyane follows French geology student Vincent who goes to work for a mining company

Where was the series filmed and how were locations used?
Lesage: The series was shot entirely in French Guiana, apart from an opening scene in Paris. This was an enormous challenge because French Guiana is a South American country deep in the Amazon, practically hemmed in by northern Brazil. It is basically only known as the hinterland of Cayenne, infamous for the forced-labour camp seen in the 1973 Steve McQueen movie Papillon. Outside of its towns, there is not much infrastructure. Film or other audiovisual facilities are rudimentary. One effect of the series has been to help develop local acting talent and help institutions develop a cultural and economic sector. Our ideal would be that, from season to season, the series would become majority Guianese-made.
Most of the locations are within two hours’ travel from Cayenne. The village called St Elias in the series was shot at Kaw, a place only accessible by dug-out canoe! The gold-panning site, Camp Alpha, was entirely built in the middle of the jungle on public land at Roura. The various canoe trips were shot at Roura, in the Kaw Marshes or at Petit Saut.

Nury: A script will only show you how a story works. It’s when you’ve got the locations and casting that you discover how it lives. We had great locations and wonderful actors on this show; places and faces we’ve barely ever seen on screen. And some of them are wild!

What were the biggest challenges of the production?
Lesage: Our greatest challenges were getting the infrastructure for a major production into place – portable toilets, water, food for cast and crew, getting gear into Kaw by helicopter and so on. We also wanted to avoid serious accidents or disease in our crew. We needed to work out ethical ways of working with the locals and to make sure each of the many communities based in French Guiana – Creole, Maroon, Hmong, Brazilians, French – got a share of the work. We felt they were very happy we were there but also that they were scared we might not be able to pull it off. In fact, to them, the shoot itself was the adventure story, the drama – a fantasy compared with the hardship of their everyday lives. Another problem we had was scheduling a shoot in the dry season. Fabien, who shot the last episode in December 2015, had to run against the first rains that would have made shooting just totally impossible. He completed it just in time.

Nury: The shooting schedule was tight. People didn’t sleep much and lost weight. But that pressure also kept everybody sharp, on edge, and I hope it shows in the finished cut. It takes an adventure to create an adventure. It’s always more difficult to shoot nights in the jungle than days in the office, but it’s also very stimulating. You can’t shoot that in your backyard and sometimes you think it’s too hard or demanding. But the good side is that it doesn’t look like your backyard.

What do you hope viewers take away from the series?
Lesage: I hope viewers come away with a taste of adventure, a desire to visit Guiana and a love for this unusual cast. And, of course, a big sense of discovery.

Nury: I hope they see it as a proof that it’s still possible, in 2017, to find adventure in this world. It’s a journey, a great ride far away from home, but set in our modern reality. I think the main promise of any adventure story is this: dangerous men entering unknown territories. I was happy to create such a story on TV; they’ve become too rare.

What are you working on next?
Lesage: Right now, we’re working on season two, and a few other unlikely projects, which is how I like it – different, varied, compelling. And I hope Fabien and I will come up with a new adventure to work on together soon.

Nury: When I don’t work for TV or film, I write graphic novels. There, I have unlimited budget. One I wrote called The Death of Stalin has just been adapted for the big screen by Armando Iannucci, with an incredible all-star cast.

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Candice Renoir: France does crime drama with a difference

Cécile Bose mixes parenting with police work as the star of French crime drama Candice Renoir. She speaks to DQ about the long-running series as filming for its fifth season gets underway.

Amid the glut of hard-hitting, gritty crime series on television, Candice Renoir stands out from the crowd.

The show sees the titular protagonist – described as “a police lieutenant, divorced, four kids – and a blonde bombshell” – return from a 10-year career break spent raising her family to resume her duties in a port town in the south of France.

But despite facing defiance from her unit and a cynical superior, she determines to solve the most complex cases using common sense, acute observation and her experience of family life – for example, catching a killer because she knows the chemical make-up of a window-cleaning product.

Produced by Boxeur de Lune, the show is now in its fourth season on France 2, with production already underway on a fifth outing.

Candice Renoir
Candice Renoir, described as a ‘female Columbo,’ is played by Cécile Bois

Audiences in Germany (ZDFneo), Canada (Radio Canada), Portugal (RTP2), Italy (Fox Crime) and Estonia (Kanal 11) have also fallen for Renoir’s charms following sales by Newen Distribution.

And Cécile Bois, who plays Candice, says there’s more to her character than meets the eye. “She’s not a cop. First of all, she’s a woman, a mother and then she’s a policewoman,” she says. “Candice Renoir is not the story of a policewoman, it’s the story of a mother who works in the police.

“The showrunners are doing a great job to get the balance between crime and family in the scripts. It’s always in their mind when they’re writing the scenarios. But I also put some of my own background into the character. When I feel like an investigation is too powerful, I try to create an atmosphere that shows the mother and woman she can be and play with the complexity of the character.”

That character, however, is not a superhero, Bois notes, adding that viewers like the fact she is flawed. “She’s not perfect, she doesn’t have an amazing body,” she explains. “She’s much more than just an object. She recognises her own defects. Female viewers can identify with the character. She’s not pretending to be anyone else; she has a lot of humanity. She can be tough but also quite fragile and that’s what makes the character beautiful and means she has a connection with the viewers.”

Producer Caroline Lassa describes Renoir as a “female Columbo” who uses her common sense and knowledge from raising four children to help solve cases that are often rooted in social issues facing France.

The cast of the show, which is currently in its fourth season and has already been confirmed for a fifth
The cast of the show, which is currently in its fourth season and has already been confirmed for a fifth

“Our scenes are 25% family life and the rest is crime,” says Lassa. “Usually we try to find crimes that can echo with Renoir’s family life, and she’s using things from her home life to solve the cases most of the time. We had an episode in which her son had to read Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo. As Renoir explains the book to her son, she understands that the case she is working on is about a woman living in real misery who is obliged to sell her body to get things for her children.

“It’s not easy to find stories with good social angles and we have to try to find a new one for each episode – which becomes complicated after 40 episodes. But at the beginning when the series started, Candice had not been working for 10 years and had been living in Singapore, so it was easy to analyse society through her eyes.”

Season four of Candice Renoir launched to record figures on May 6 when 4.7 million viewers tuned in to France 2, representing a 21% audience share.

And Lassa, whose previous credits include detective series Maigret, puts the show’s success firmly at the feet of Bois. “She is the reason why it’s so popular,” the producer explains. “She’s a very good actress. When she gave her first audition for the series, it was unbelievable. It was better than what we had written. There are good scripts, a wonderful actress and it’s set in a nice place.

“It’s never easy to produce a television series. In France, we could develop 100 stories but only produce one. But since the first season of Candice Renoir, we knew we had found something special. We also have a very good head writer, Solen Roy-Pagenault, so it was a meeting between this author and this character. I was lucky. We can go on for at least three more seasons.”

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CBS in transgender breakthrough

Katherine Heigl, pictured in State of Affairs
Katherine Heigl, pictured in State of Affairs

CBS’s new legal drama Doubt will star Katherine Heigl. But it is the casting of transgender actress Laverne Cox in the show that is capturing the headlines.

US network CBS has given a series order to Doubt, a legal drama starring Katherine Heigl as a smart and successful defence lawyer who begins to get romantically involved with her client, who may or may not be guilty of a brutal murder.

The show is significant because it also includes transgender actress Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) in the cast. Assuming Cox’s role is one that doesn’t propagate the usual stereotypes that surround transgender acting talent, it will be a major breakthrough for the community, which usually finds it difficult to get meaningful roles outside niche cable channels and streaming services.

Doubt’s selection seems to have killed off another show’s chances of progressing to a full series – at least for now. Drew, which is a contemporary take on the Nancy Drew books, was in the running for a series commission from CBS until Doubt was chosen ahead of it. There is a chance it will pop up at another network, though, as CBS Studios is still shopping it around.

ABC's The Catch
The Catch has been given a second chance by ABC

Another interesting CBS story, as predicted by the US press, is that superhero series Supergirl is moving to The CW for its second season. In doing so, production will relocate to Vancouver from LA.

The move makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, despite a very promising pilot episode, the show wasn’t really hitting the mark in the very exposed world of frontline network TV. Secondly, The CW (a 50/50 joint venture from CBS and Time Warner) already has a strong slate of superhero shows including Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, so it will be right at home.

The CBS announcements are part of a busy time of year for the US networks, which generally announce new series for their 2016/17 season in May. Another title in the news this week, for example, is NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption, a spin-off from the well-established James Spader series The Blacklist.

NBC is a big fan of brand extensions, having also recently announced the launch of legal series Chicago Justice to go alongside scheduling stalwarts Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago PD.

Castle has reached it final season
Castle has reached it final season

A bolder move by NBC is the decision to take Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan’s time travel series Timeless from pilot to series. Bizarrely, that means there are now three time travel shows coming through the US networks system, with ABC’s Time After Time and Fox’s Making History also greenlit as series (and remember, we’ve also just seen Hulu’s 11.22.63 air in the US).

Of course, for every new show there’s usually a cancellation to free up space in the schedule. This week’s unlucky victim on NBC is The Mysteries of Laura, axed after two moderate seasons. Other cancellations include ABC’s Castle, which is coming to an end after eight seasons on air. Create by Andrew W Marlowe, the show focused on a best-selling mystery novelist and an NYPD homicide detective who solved crimes together. When it started it secured an audience of nine to 10 million an episode, but as it comes to a close it is in the five to six million range.

Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW
Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW

ABC has also cancelled Nashville, Agent Carter and The Muppets. One other show it might have cancelled on the basis of its season one ratings was Shonda Rhimes’ The Catch, but instead it has decided to give the show a second chance in 2016/17.

This isn’t a massive surprise given Rhimes’ fabulous contribution to the network – but it has to go down as a bit of a risk. ABC’s faith in Rhimes has, however, been further underlined with the decision to order another new series called Still Star-Crossed, described as a sequel to Romeo & Juliet. Interestingly, ABC also had the option of going forward with a Shondaland comedy called Toast, but decided to call it quits on that one after a pilot.

Another project in the news this week is Paradime. This one is interesting because it has been optioned from a novel that hasn’t even got to publication yet, showing just how competitive the market for book rights has become. The novel, by Alan Glynn, is a psychological thriller about a man who returns to New York after a spell in Afghanistan and becomes obsessed with a businessman.

French thriller The Disappearance (Disparue)
French thriller The Disappearance (Disparue)

The show is being developed by ITV and One-Two Punch Productions, with Glenn Gordon Caron (Medium) onboard to write and direct the series. The appeal of the project is partly down to Glynn’s track record. His previous novel, The Dark Fields, was turned into the movie Limitless in 2011 and then a TV series.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the latest French thriller to be causing a stir is The Disappearance (Disparue), which has been compared to UK hits like Broadchurch and The Missing.

The show has been rating well on France 2, with an audience in excess of five million, and has now been picked up for broadcast by BBC4 in the UK. The Disappearance, written by Marie Deshaires and Catherine Touzet, is set in Lyon and tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who goes missing. As the police investigate the disappearance, a number of people close to the girl’s family are discovered to have secrets of their own that they wish to keep concealed.

Newen's Candice Renoir went to NPO2 in the Netherlands
Newen’s Candice Renoir went to NPO2 in the Netherlands

Although Disparue is a French scripted series, it actually owes a fair amount to other parts of Europe. It is, for example, based on a Spanish series called Desaparecida that first aired in 2007/08. And it was directed by Franco-Swedish filmmaker Charlotte Brändström, who has worked on Scandinavian crime series like Wallander, thus adding a bit of Nordic Noir to the show’s DNA.

Still in France, Newen Distribution has sold its detective series Candice Renoir to Dutch public broadcaster NPO2. The show, which is one of the top-rated dramas on France 2, has previously been sold to ZDFneo in Germany, CBC in Canada, RTP2 in Portugal, Kanal 11 in Estonia and Fox Crime Italy, among other broadcasters.

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