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Canal Plus Bites Into ‘Hard Apple’ With James Gray (EXCLUSIVE)

Looking to explore different genre and worlds, French pay TV giant Canal Plus is joining forces with American filmmaker James Gray to foray into “Hard Apple,” an adult-skewing animated series.

Gray, whose latest movie, the Marion Cotillard starrer “The Immigrant,” opened in competition at Cannes, will serve as executive producer and will supervise all creative aspects of the series, including the writing.

Inspired by New York-born author Jerome Charyn’s “Isaac Sidel” novels, the series opens in the 1970s and charts the rise of New York City’s premier law enforcer, detective Isaac Sidel, as he covers three decades of crime and political corruption.

“Hard Apple” brings together an A-list creative team, leading with Israeli illustrators Tomer and Asaf Hanuka, who have worked for the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, as well as Ari Folman’s film “Waltz With Bashir.” The pair will create the animation designs such as the decor and characters.

Charyn’s Isaac Sidel literary collection kicked off 40 years ago with “Blue Eyes” and have been translated into seven languages, attracting a cult following worldwide. The franchise’s latest thriller novel, “Under the Eye of God,” came out in 2012.

The series is being produced by Yonatan Israel (“Watermarks”) and Bruno Nahon (“The Churchmen”), Arnold Barkus, Adam Yaffe, Lalou Dammond, and Joaquin Baca-Asay.

Barkus and Yaffe will write the series and will be joined by a few other European scribes. A showrunner and a director will soon be attached.

Fabrice de la Patelliere, the topper of French drama and co-productions for Canal Plus, said the group was particularly proud to “venture into such a singular animated TV series for adults with someone as talented and visionary as James Gray.”

“Animation for adults is rare on television, even though it’s a very rich field of expression,” explained the mild-mannered De la Patelliere, who is notoriously demanding when it comes to scripts and has originated lots of hits and very few misses since joining Canal Plus in 2012. “We love Jerome Charyn’s crime novels, the visual universe of the Hanuka brothers and the sensibility of James Gray. This project is the unique occasion to bring together all this talents.”

Nahon pointed out that while the thriller/detective genre is widely popular in live-action drama series, it has not been explored in animation up until now.” Added Nahon, “Animation for adults has been done successfully with comedies such as ‘South Park,’ which shows us there is an audience for that kind of edgy animation material, so mixing crime drama and animation will allow us to explore a globally appreciated but very familiar genre in a completely original way.”

Per Nahon and Israel, “Gray has a unique sensibility and aesthetic that is a perfect match for the series.”

De la Patelliere has been the driving force behind Canal Plus’ Creation Originale division, which in the last few years has co-produced such hits as “The Returned” and “Braquo” and the upcoming sprawling spy thriller “Le Bureau des Legendes.”

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