Ex-journalist defends door to Depardieu

PARIS — There aren’t many people as familiar with the passages under the main Cannes hotels as Claude Davy.

Hours spent shepherding Gerard Depardieuaway from the papparazzi have made the veteran flak a specialist of Cannes’ underground geography. And at 60, Davy can navigate his way through the complicated personal relationships of the French film industry with equal ease.

In a year, he handles press relations for up to 15 pics, more often than not working with France’s top producers. Claude Berri, Jean-Louis Livi, Rene Cleitman, Michel Seydoux, Gaumont and CIBY 2000 number among his regular clients.

Now he is moving into English language pics and will work on several Ciby 2000 films, including “The Glass Shield,””The Hour ofthe Pig” and “The Flemish Board.””I don’t really speak English, but (assistant) Jean-Christophe Hedier does and will be in charge of developing a more international side of the business.”

But above all, Davy is the man who guards the door to Depardieu.

“I have one actor as a client, that’s Gerard, and given his volume of work, that’s enough,” he smiles. Access to the thesp passes inextricably via Davy — who receives dozens of scripts from wannabe filmers — and that access is carefully controlled. Those in the know insist that Depardieu consults closely with the former journalist and rarely takes a part against Davy’s advice.

Despite an enviable list of contacts and almost 40 years in the industry, Davy has neither directed nor produced, insisting that “questions of finance bore me. I don’t think I would be a very good producer.”

Instead he networks to considerable effect. It was Davy who discovered and helped launch Cyril Collard, the director of “Les Nuits Fauves,” who died of AIDS last year just two days before his debut pic won Best Film and Best First Film at the Cesar Awards.

Says Davy, “I can’t give talent, but I can smooth the way for talent to achieve what it deserves.”

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