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Chabrol slides into ‘Haunted Chair’

Crime series based on Gaston Leroux novel

French helmer Claude Chabrol is set to direct “Le Fauteuil hante” (The Haunted Chair), a TV crime series based on the 1909 classic Gallic novel penned by Gaston Leroux (“The Phantom of the Opera”).

Series will be produced by Gerard Jourd’hui via his Paris-based Jourd’hui Mitchell Prods., and will air on pubcaster France Televisions channel France 2, which is co-producing.

Each episode is budgeted at $2.23 million, a healthy sum for a Gallic TV production. Michel Duchaussoy (“Public Enemy No. 1”) and Michael Lonsdale (“Agora”) topline.

Chabrol last teamed with Jourd’hui on an episode of “Au Siecle de Maupassant” (Tales of the 19th Century), starring Pierre Arditi. He also helmed episodes of Jourd’hui’s previous production, TV historical drama series “Chez Maupassant,” which nabbed record audiences on France 2, averaging a 30% market share.

The 16 one-hour episodes of “Le Fauteuil hante” will follow an illiterate man who is elected head of the French Academy, a prestigious Gallic literary organization. Loyal to Leroux’s literary style, the series will mix suspense and fantasy.

“In these times of recession, French audiences take pleasure from watching fiction series that celebrate their cultural heritage,” Jourd’hui said. “I see the same phenomenon happening in England, with series based on the work of famous British authors.”

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