×

Series Mania: Tonie Marshall’s Tabo Tabo Films Prepares Series ‘Neo Paris’

Tabo Tabo Film's Tonie Marshall and Suzanne Colin discuss 'Neo Paris,' their new near-future alternative technologies thriller

PARIS — There were two versions of Paris on display this week at Series Mania. The first was the city itself, a multi-cultural melting pot and mecca of high art,  with world famous museums, history and restaurants, and the other an identical copy… until one logs out of the game.

Headed by distinguished French director Tonie Marshall – whose “Venus Beauty Institute” won four French Academy Cesars – Tabo Tabo Films pitched its near-future, advanced-tech television series “Neo Paris” at Tuesday’s Series Mania European TV Series Co-Production Forum. With a history of producing feature films, Tabo Tabo, as is the case with many French movie companies, is looking to move further into the TV market after having worked on 2009’s “Venus and Apollo” and last year’s “Cannabis.”

The company is looking to shoot “Neo Paris” in 2020 with a higher than usual budget for French drama, lensing in Paris, Berlin and Lebanon, with dialogues in French, English, Arabic and German, making the series ideal for an international co-production deal.

“Neo Paris” is a series about an virtual reality video game, a game which is a proposed mix of “Second Life” and “World of Warcraft” that takes place in an 3D rendered version of the City of Lights.

“In the game, players have a whole dimension where you can meet people. You can vote, buy stuff, you can have sex, be whoever you want. It’s a laboratory for social experimenting as well,” commented Tabo’s head of development for the series Suzanne Colin.

The game, however, isn’t only used by gamers looking to augment their real lives in a kind of “Ready Player One” anything goes environment. The rules for the game are concrete and the creators of the game often work hand-in-hand with police and the Parisian government using the game as a simulation for implementing new safety precautions and proposed construction projects.“(The game) is always used for good,” said Marshall, adding, however, that “there is the risk of it being hacked or deviated.”

It is just such a deviation that kicks off the action in the series. In 2025, it is revealed that a major terrorist attract in Paris was planned using the game as a beta testing ground. Arianne Estranger, CEO of the game developer’s company, is arrested while one of its founders goes missing. To tell her story, Ariane must start from the beginning, 2016, when the game development began.

While science fiction is a genre that has been neglected in French film and TV over the past few years, “Neo Paris” joins a slate of new sci-fi set to be launched in the very near future.

“Some broadcasters tried to develop sci-fi programming a while ago but it never quite worked out,” Marshall said, going on to point out the recent successes, however, of Arte France “Trepalium.” Arte France is now backing “Transfer,” a body swap procedural; pay TV operator OCS financed “Missions,” a Mars mission thriller half hour showcased like “Transfer” at Series Mania.

Colin insisted, however, that “Neo Paris” is not really “hard” science fiction. “It’s a slight anticipation [of reality], but it’s very realistic. We don’t want it to be just about the future, but also about the present.”

Series writer Mehdi Fikri echoed a similar sentiment. “This isn’t fiction. Hezbollah creates its own propaganda video games. ISIS made a jihadist version of GTA. In France, Ubisoft has solid co-operation agreements with the military to which it supplies battle simulations.” A former journalist, documentarian, and confessed hard core “Dungeons & Dragons” geek, Fikri has countless hours logged in to the games that inspired the series.

As for his goals for the Co-Production Forum: “To meet co-producers, broadcasters and international sales agents that are willing to embark on this ambitious adventure with is.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Kirsten Dunst'On Becoming a God in

    Kirsten Dunst Talks 'Little Women,' 'Interview With a Vampire' Reboots

    Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she skyrocketed into stardom as Claudia in “Interview with a Vampire,” but now Dunst says her age is the only thing keeping her from reprising the role in a hypothetical reboot. “I mean I’m too old, right?,” she told Variety at the premiere of “On Becoming a God [...]

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content