Jolivet to top showbiz lobby

Former head of French group ankles in anger

PARIS — Director Pierre Jolivet has been named the head of France’s powerful writers, directors and producers lobby group — the ARP — as the divisive row over France’s “too critical” film critics took a fresh twist Thursday.

Jolivet, whose comedy “Ma Petite Entreprise” was a fall hit in France, takes over from Claude Miller, whose 1998 offering “La Classe de Neige,” was screened at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Jolivet’s appointment had barely been announced when the daily newspaper Le Monde published a leaked letter to the ARP from outgoing president Miller angrily offering his resignation.

In the letter, Miller said he no longer wanted to be dragged into the row between an army of irate film directors and critics they accuse of unfairly panning their films. The controversy has split the French film community in two, with many others opposed to the attack on the critics.

Miller said he was sickened that the issue could fill the offices of the ARP, “while the debate over the World Trade Organization only drew 10 people.”

Complaining that a mole had leaked the letter to Le Monde, a spokesman for the ARP Thursday insisted that Miller had not quit the organization in anger, but had left after 2 1/2 years because his mandate was up.

In June this year, Miller had extended his mandate for six months to steer the ARP through negotiations over broadcasting rights with France’s pay TV groups, over which a deal has yet to be struck.

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