In real life, and at the top of the list of Film Talent Agencies we have the CAA (Creative Artist Agency), and WME (William Morris Endeavor). And there a few hundred more. Narrowing our focus to just one agent, from television, specifically the HBO show Entourage, we have the fictional super-agent Ari Gold.
Now let me add one agency to our discussion.
Also from television, French TV specifically, via Netflix, we have the fictional agency known all over Paris as ASK. Which is the acronym for the boutique film talent agency Samuel Kerr.
ASK is a small shop set up in a swanky 1st Arrondissiment location – just four agents (all firm partners) with assistants, a receptionist,
a senior partner, plus a billing/accounting department to keep track of money both in and out. There’s a press department, and finally there’s a legal department that checks that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted in all the contracts. Then add in an ingenue – she’s just been hired as an assistant to a tough agent.boss who’s previous assistant has just walked out in frustration just minutes before.
I’m really talking about another new series on Netflix and another new series from overseas. Netflix is calling it Call My Agent! In France, they called it Dix pour Cent or (in English – 10 Per Cent.). Between you and me, this comedy series (6 episodes of an hour each) is a lot of laughs and a joy to watch.
The neat element they use, probably lifted from Entourage, is that each of the episodes centers around real-life French film stars playing themselves. Of course there are issues to contend with and our bunch of agents can go crazy trying to resolve each one.
Take Episode 1 called Cecile. The Cecile in question is Cecile De France. She is soon to appear in the upcoming HBO series, The Young Pope which begins on January 15th. Cecile plays opposite Jude Law in TYP. In this episode, she’s a major film star and is up for a role in Tarantino’s next film, and she is late for a photo shoot. Her agent, Gabriel Sarda, played by Gregory Montel, is frantically trying to reach her.
Cecile is out in the suburbs taking a horse riding lesson, as in the Tarantino film she will have to ride a horse. She’s told everyone that, Oui, I can ride, but that’s false.
As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, Gabriel, her agent, gets a text that Tarantino has decided that Cecile is too old for the part, so they are not going to sign her for the movie. Sarda is of course devastated. So much so, that he can’t bring himself to tell Cecile.
Naturally that sets the carousel in motion. Cecile will fire Gabriel as her agent, and hire another partner at ASK, one Matthias Barneville,
who has used some threats about getting the licenses to shoot in Paris approved to persuade one of Tarantino’s producers to agree to get Cecile’s role back.
The ingenue will be hired. fired, and rehired all within a few hours.
Cecile agrees to let another of the agency’s partner’s represent her. Think of it – stealing a client from one of your own partners. The horror. But that’s life in this agency. It really is a mad, mad, mad world, at least at ASK. By the way, you’ve only been told about half of episode one.
In episode 2 – called Liné & Francoise – two elderly actresses end up competing for the same role, again due to some agent snafus. What is funny is that these too are really competitive. Think of Betty White and Doris Roberts going at it hammer and tongs. Often it is hilarious.
One of the old biddies is talking about the other. About how old she is. Here is some of the dialogue. Liné, who was born in 1928 is talking about her elderly opponent.
She had a birthday recently. She’s so old that the candles for the birthday cake cost more than the cake.
Of course there’s some maneuvering by the agents. Roles are acquired then lost within minutes.
In Episode 3 called Nathalie et Laura, we have the real life mother/daughter actress combo with Nathalie Baye and Laura Smet playing themselves.
Some how they are both auditioning for roles in a film. After being told that having a mother and daughter each cast in the same movie, there could be issues. Like real life stresses and differences might seep into their performances. So they are each given instructions to pull a ‘Bardot’ – that would be Brigitte Bardot, a French sex-kitten in the era of French films of the 60’s. Pulling a Bardot means that they each acted indifferent about being in the film, and they each became difficult to reason with, argumentative, and very hard to discuss things with.
The t\net result is that neither was cast. Enter our intrepid agents to make it all better.
Episode 4 is called Audrey. The reference is to French actress Audrey Fleurot. You may have seen her in The Intouchables, or the Woody Allen hit Midnight in Paris, or another series currently airing on Netflix called Engrenages (Spirals in English). Here she’s an actress that has been cast in a sexpot role (she’s required to do a pole dance and she’s untrained in the pole dance arts) plus her body isn’t in shape as she is a nursing mother
Episodes 5, called Julie & Joey is about a pair of the agency’s clients – real life actor Joey Starr and real life actress Julie Gayete, who are starring in a romantic period drama being shot at a nearby chateau. They are required to play lovers – and in truth they can’t stand one another.
The actors are in a dither, the production is floundering, and of course the agents are going crazy.
Episode 6, called Francois, is about an older actor, Francois Berléand who was known in his younger days as a romantic lead. Now he’s a bit or a lot older, certainly heavier, and he’s threatening to not only walk off the set,
but to quit the movie entirely if he is forced to do a scene that requires him to jump into a swimming pool with two hookers. Why is that so? You’ll have to watch the episode and the series to find out.
I really enjoyed this Netflix series. Usually I am not a fan of French comedies. I prefer French cops and gangsters, if the truth be known. But this series really tickled me. It is has beautiful imagery, very attractive people, and there’s no end to the number of funny situations that occur. The production was not done on the cheap which becomes obvious with expensive clothing, the gorgeous sets, and the multiple location shoots
From Fanny Sidney who plays the ingenue with a secret, to the agents and other staff at ASK (though they’re often kind of dysfunctional, they really are a tight-knit family (of sorts), to the gorgeous Cecile De France
and the tough as nails agent Andrea – they all shine in either big or small roles.
If you have a Netflix streaming account, you won’t want to miss this 6 episode binge-worthy series. And for the record, a second season is in the works for screening in 2017. Among those stars who have already signed on are Isabelle Adjani, Christopher Lambert, and Juliette Binoche.