FApproaching his fifties and having had enough of it after two exhausting decades at Artmedia, the largest talent agency in Paris, Dominique Besnehard decided, one day in 2005, that he would like to turn to producing his own. product.
“Back then,” Besnehard told Le Monde, “Desperate Housewives was everywhere on TV, a huge hit. I just thought, along with a few colleagues, that maybe we could do a show a bit like that, but about the work we do for a living.
Call My Agent, whose fourth series begins on Netflix this week, is now a huge hit – and has, along with Spiral and The Bureau, two other acclaimed series, totally and possibly ultimately refuted the saying that France is so bad. in television series that it is good in the movies.
“France is really benefiting from a global trend in television series towards strong, original, local stories, rooted in their territory and free from American and British standards,” said Laurence Herszberg, director of the international festival Series Mania.
The show, she said, was so great because it was set “in an environment that we don’t know well but that we would like; because agents are friendly and passionate, and people love them even more than guest stars; because it’s very French – it’s in Paris, he has office loves… And because it’s on Netflix. “
Call My Agent, whose French title is Dix pour Cent (for the 10% of French agent fees billed to actors), attracts between 3 and 4 million viewers on the public channel France 2 and is available worldwide on the streaming service.
Successful remakes are now airing in French-speaking Canada and Turkey, with more in development in India, China, Vietnam and the UK, where the series will be produced by the team behind the popular BBC mockumentaries. 2012 and W1A.
Versions are also being negotiated from Germany and Italy to South Korea, according to France 2. “It is”, recently said Thibault de Montalembert, one of the stars of the French program, “One of those rare French series that foreigners adore”.
It’s not hard to see why. The principle is simple but fertile: a talented agency in Paris, ASK, grappling with the imaginary whims of an impressive coterie of A-listers, who each play a credible version of themselves, most of the time for a single episode.
Jean Dujardin, best known for the 2011 silent film The Artist, appeared in the series for being hysterically unable to shake off his previous role as a deserter from the Survival Army, while Juliette Binoche took a catastrophic off-track at the Cannes film festival.
Isabelle Huppert was seen as a workaholic who shot two films at once, while Monica Bellucci was dying for a date with someone who was not famous. In the new series, Charlotte Gainsbourg is stuck with an unwanted part and Sandrine Kiberlain gives up everything to try the stand-up.
The fourth series also features Dix pour Cent’s biggest non-French star to date, Sigourney Weaver, who told Variety last year that she said yes to the series “without even reading the script – the first and foremost. the last time I did that in my life. “
Weaver described the show as “a love letter to the company” that “goes behind the scenes to show the actors’ issues facing different directors and mood scenes. He has great affection for the company and for the work of an agent.
In any case, Ten Percent has catapulted its regular performers – the engaging and endlessly inventive ASK agents and their assistants – to national stardom. Careers in regional theater and art films, several have since played in French films with considerably larger budgets and larger audiences.
Camille Cottin, the show’s standout star, will be seen alongside Matt Damon in Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater later this year, and is set to start filming Ridley Scott’s Gucci biopic, starring Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci and Lady Gaga his ex-wife.
Cottin also starred in Mouche, a not particularly successful adaptation of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Chip bag: at the time of the making of the French series, the original had already been broadcast on French television, with subtitles.
While series four was billed as the last in the series, its unexpected transatlantic success – Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston said they loved it, while Besnehard said “several” Hollywood names had called him personally. to offer their services. – means it probably won’t.
“There will certainly be a film, anyway,” the producer recently declared on Europe 1 radio. “And France Télévisions has said it wants some sort of fifth series. We are thinking about it. We might even try to be successful in the United States.