Vanessa Shapiro, the president of worldwide TV distribution and co-production at Gaumont, talks about the global appeal of NOX and shares some of the other highlights on the company’s drama slate for MIPTV.
Described as a nail-biting crime thriller, NOX is a brand-new Canal+ Creation Originale that is making its international debut at MIPTV. Produced by Gaumont, the 6×1-hour series co-stars Nathalie Baye (It’s Only the End of the World, Spin, Les Gardiennes), Malik Zidi (Made in France), Maïwenn (The Price of Success) and Frédéric Pierrot. Gaumont is distributing the drama across the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Asia, with STUDIOCANAL distributing in Europe (excluding TV rights in France and European French-speaking territories), Africa, the Middle East, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.
TV DRAMA: How did Gaumont come on board NOX, and what was the initial appeal of the project?
SHAPIRO: NOX is a Creation Originale series for Canal+ that premiered on March 12. We wanted to work with the esteemed director Fred Cavayé and approached him to create an original concept. What he came up with is this very dark idea set in the underbelly of Paris about a woman searching for her daughter who has disappeared. We aren’t aware of any other series set in the Paris underground, so that alone made it unique, but Fred’s concept really explores the darkness of humanity, and the descent into hell that this mother experiences. Attaching Nathalie Baye (Catch Me If You Can) as the female lead was a real coup!
TV DRAMA: What does the setting of the Paris underground lend to the series?
SHAPIRO: The darkness of the tunnels matches the darkness of humanity that is explored in this series. It is a world that everyone has heard about, and read about, but to see and experience the underground in the show takes the drama to a whole new level. It’s an entire dark and dangerous world beneath one of the most beautiful and historic cities—you could almost make the comparison between heaven and hell.
TV DRAMA: Do you think the timing is right for a drama with a strong female lead like this one?
SHAPIRO: The timing couldn’t be better. We have two strong female lead characters—each with their own flaws—but they are real, firm in their beliefs and they are essentially fearless. Catherine (the mother) is a retired policewoman trying to find her daughter. For the first time, Catherine becomes deeply involved in her daughter’s life as she needs to learn as much as she can in order to uncover any clue that will help find her.
TV DRAMA: What about the series do you think will hook viewers?
SHAPIRO: It’s an edgy thriller that continuously reveals more secrets—both about the characters as well as the underworld of Paris. The storyline is just as complex and filled with mystery, like the tunnels themselves.
TV DRAMA: Why will this show appeal to a wide range of buyers?
SHAPIRO: It’s an elaborate drama and a universal story of the depths that people will go to and the inner strength they find when it means life or death. The location is unique in that while everyone is familiar with Paris, the story takes place in the dark underground that few have seen. The show has qualities that translate worldwide—great writing, strong and relatable characters, high production values and intense storylines.
TV DRAMA: Another key highlight from Gaumont is Narcos. Why do you think interest will be high for this title at MIPTV?
SHAPIRO: We are presenting Narcos tolinear TV partners for the first time this year. The rise and fall of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is a story people can’t get enough of, and we anticipate strong global demand. When Narcos season three premiered in September 2017, it dominated the month as the number one most in-demand Netflix title in the U.S. and number five most popular global title, according to Parrot Analytics. The fourth season is currently in production.
TV DRAMA: The Art of Crime is another top drama for MIPTV. What’s the show’s appeal for international broadcasters?
SHAPIRO: The Art of Crime season two is currently in production and will debut in late 2018. Season onepremiered in November 2017 on France 2 and was very successful, with over 4 million viewers. In this series, the first procedural crime drama set in the world of art, an unlikely duo—a hot-headed cop and a renowned art historian—come together to solve a series of modern-day crimes that unveil intriguing mysteries of French cultural and historical heritage. The series, I would say, has a lighter tone to it—if I were to compare it to other shows, I’d say it’s a bit like Castle meets The Da Vinci Code. France is the perfect backdrop for the series because of the wealth and cultural heritage it has. World-renowned monuments play a big part in the storytelling—for example, the first episodes are filmed at The Louvre, which is the world’s largest museum, and Château d’Amboise, at one time a favored royal residence. The French Ministry of Culture recognizes both as historic monuments. Another location is the Musée d’Art Moderne, a major municipal museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
TV DRAMA: What else is coming up from Gaumont in the way of drama?
SHAPIRO: We are careful about the subjects we’re going to go after. We want to be very original, to do something that has not been done before, as we did with Narcos. In addition to our announcements at MIP, we have many projects in development and have recently forged some great partnerships. We secured an option for Stephen King’s novella N., which we are very excited about, with David F. Sandberg (director of the hugely successful Annabelle: Creation) attached to direct the pilot, and Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari (whose credits include Ant-Man & the Wasp) serving as writers. We also have a first-look television deal with Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible—Fallout, Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation) and his producing partner Heather McQuarrie to adapt Gaumont’s multiple César Award-nominated feature film 36 Quai des Orfèvres intoa scripted drama series.