PARIS — Following months of speculations, Netflix has finally unveiled details about its first French drama commission: “Marseille,” a sprawling crime skein created and penned by “Carlos” co-scribe Dan Franck.
A tale of power, corruption and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the French port city, “Marseille” focuses on the story of Robert Taro, mayor of the city for 25 years. The coming elections have him face the man he chose as his heir, an ambitious youngster aiming high. Both candidates will fight mercilessly.
“Marseille” stages a fight around revenge, animated by drug lords, politicians, unions and the political players of the city.
“‘Marseille’ is an ambitious, diabolically smart fictitious exploration of local politics in one of the world’s most vibrant and fascinating cities.” said Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos. “We are delighted to be working with some of the best storytellers in France to deliver a series that erases the line between film and television.”
Franck is best known for co-writing “Carlos,” which won Golden Globe for best miniseries and a Cesar for most promising actor, Edgar Ramirez, and was nominated for 36 international awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards.
“Creating a series for an enormous audience and without any constraints will let us push to its limits a story about the Shakespearean theater of politics in a city where Alexandre Dumas and Jean-Claude Izzo, among others, have planted many spears,” said Franck. “Netflix has given us a blank page to create a ‘House of Cards’ in French that breaks through unspoken hypocrisy. This is a writer’s dream and a great opportunity for French producers and creators to enter a new world.”
The first two episodes of “Marseille” will be directed by Florent-Emilio Siri, director of the Cesar-nominated theatrical hits “My Way” (Cloclo) and “L’Ennemi intime. ” Samuel Benchetrit (“J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster”) will also be directing episodes.
The skein is produced by Paris-based Federation Entertainment, the shingle launches by industry vet Pascal Breton, former topper of Marathon (now owned by Zodiak) and producer of such popular French series as “Dolmen” and “Sous le Soleil.”
“Movies today sacrifice a lot to almighty pacing and often lose the essential: the characters. Current TV series do exactly the opposite, they stretch time and work characters in depth with all their complexities and contradictions. That’s what makes for their success,” said Florent-Emilio Siri. “The movie business in France today confines itself to comedy or what is called ‘author cinema.'”
Breton explained that “‘Marseille’ will take the audience right into the political arena where the old regime of traditional politicians are getting ready to face the younger generation of predators, thugs, and sometimes their own heirs.”
Added Breton, “Netflix is giving us the perfect opportunity to tell this story from a uniquely French viewpoint, in association with some of France’s best writers and directors. Produced entirely in France, Marseille has the potential to become one of the most gripping television events of the coming years.”