BAZ BAMIGBOYE: French hit Call My Agent set for the West End run

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: French hit Call My Agent set for the West End run

The Netflix show Call My Agent, about a Parisian talent agency, its staff and their famous (and famously difficult) showbiz clients, has become a potent French cultural export.

There are 15 foreign versions in the works, including one here in the UK. And I can now reveal that it is to be turned into a West End musical. 

Creative executives behind the show have struck a deal with two London producers, who aim to have Call My Agent — The Musical up in lights by the end of 2024.

During Zoom conversations with Michel Feller, lead producer and a creator of the TV hit, and Marie-Cecile Renault, his attorney, I was told that Adam Kenwright and David Livingstone will be granted rights to ‘freely adapt it for the stage’.

Feller cautioned: ‘It’s not a good thing to make a copy of us. They need to be totally free to make the best show they can…don’t be too respectable with our show!’

The Netflix show Call My Agent, about a Parisian talent agency, its staff and their famous (and famously difficult) showbiz clients, has become a potent French cultural export (pictured, Camille Cottin at Cannes Film Festival)

The Brits, who first met while working on Billy Elliot and now run their own theatre and film companies, are cognizant of the Frenchman’s point. 

‘It’s got to feel like it’s transformed into something different,’ said Livingstone, whose Calamity Films made Judy (for which Renee Zellweger won an Oscar), Pride, with George MacKay and Imelda Staunton, and Sky success Brassic.

He wants the musical to be underpinned with substantive matters, such as issues of empowerment and the vagaries of stardom, and described the agents at the heart of the story as ‘people with heart and talent’ in a world of superficial gloss.

First task, according to Kenwright, is to track down the best writer, composer and lyricist they can, ‘to bring the show to life’ — but that does not mean ‘the usual suspects’. 

Kenwright, who recently founded stage and screen group Kindred Partners, said he and Livingstone wanted to meet with a lot of the women who are doing some of the best work in TV writing; and songwriters from the rock and pop world.

He hoped the resulting show would combine the lunacy of musical The Producers; the wit of The Office, the high drama of The Devil Wears Prada … and the romance of Paris.

As with the TV show, there will be a special guest star each week — who ‘must be able to sing’ — and they are hoping to attract French, as well as UK and American, celebrities.

The source material for the musical is brilliant. Call My Agent emerged from the lives of Feller and Dominique Besnehard: both former agents who represented high-profile stars and prestigious writers and directors.

The source material for the musical is brilliant. Call My Agent emerged from the lives of Feller and Dominique Besnehard: both former agents who represented high-profile stars and prestigious writers and directors

Along with other colleagues, they devised Dix Pour Cent (to give it its French title), setting it in a fictional agency called ASK.

The agents were like a dysfunctional family and Feller ensured that they cast the best actors to play them. Camille Cottin, the impulsive and charismatic Andrea Martel, has already emerged as a breakout star. 

She’s in Killing Eve; appeared opposite Lady Gaga in movie melodrama House Of Gucci, and has just completed filming Golda with Helen Mirren.

Laure Calamy, who plays the ambitious secretary Noemie, won a best actress prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival — and I’ve seen many of her co-stars in films at other festivals.

Feller also revealed that Nicolas Mercier is writing the screenplay for a 90-minute film version of Call My Agent that will see all the characters, who scattered in the fourth and final season on telly, ‘somehow’ reunited.

And he hinted that he might approach Kevin Kline and Jodie Foster for the project, which he hopes will be ready to shoot late this year: two weeks of filming in New York, the rest in France.

Asked why he thought Call My Agent had become such a phenomenon, Feller said: ‘We have a very good mix between comedy and emotions. It’s a family, in a crazy little company.’ 

Feller also revealed that Nicolas Mercier is writing the screenplay for a 90-minute film version of Call My Agent that will see all the characters, who scattered in the fourth and final season on telly, ‘somehow’ reunited

So many swanky parties, so little time 

To those studios that have left me out in the cold by not inviting me to their glamorous soirées over the British Film awards/BAFTA weekend, I forgive you.

In fact, you’ve done me a favour, as I am already oversubscribed. My maths isn’t great, but I’ve counted eight invitations that I’ve RSVP’d to. 

That’s four each tomorrow and Sunday night — including the Charles Finch and Chanel dinner in swanky club 5 Hertford Street. Then there’s Focus, Universal and Working Title, MGM, Amazon and Netflix. 

Will I go gaga when I meet Lady Gaga? Nah. But I look forward to meeting all the Bafta nominees in person, at a live awards show hosted by Rebel Wilson.

To those studios that have left me out in the cold by not inviting me to their glamorous soirées over the British Film awards/BAFTA weekend, I forgive you. I look forward to meeting all the Bafta nominees in person, at a live awards show hosted by Rebel Wilson

I pray that we’re in for a treat. The disparities between Bafta and Oscar nominations this year makes outcomes trickier to predict, which could be fun. 

My only concern is my sense that the public may have fallen out of love with awards shows.

There’s been little discourse about the films in question. I’ve seen all of them, but when I randomly asked 20 people in Marylebone High Street to name movies in the mix, just four were mentioned: No Time To Die, Belfast, The Power Of The Dog and West Side Story.

Except Steven Spielberg’s musical reinterpretation of West Side Story was overlooked by Bafta — apart from Ariana DeBose, who’s up for supporting actress and the EE Rising Star Award. 

Except Steven Spielberg’s musical reinterpretation of West Side Story was overlooked by Bafta — apart from Ariana DeBose, who’s up for supporting actress and the EE Rising Star Award

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