Levy project books sales

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Prolific author Marc Levy is heading back to his native France for the launch of Tele Images' new series "Will You Be There?"

Produced by Mai-Juin Production for Gallic network M6, the series of four 52-minute episodes already has sold to Antena 3 in Spain, TSR in Switzerland and RTL TVI in Belgium after the first day of the MIPCOM market Monday. It also is available in a two-episode, 90-minute format for international sales.

Written by Franck Philippon and directed by Miguel Courtois, "There" follows its cast — Cristiana Reali, Elsa Lunghini and Philippe Bas — from Paris to the tropical jungles of Santo Domingo over the course of 20 years.

Old friends Courtois and Levy thought the story could best be told in a longer format, so they opted for a series rather than a feature film and collaborated throughout the production.

"To me, a director becomes an author the moment he chooses to tell your story among the millions of others around," Levy said. "You have to trust him to tell your story his way."

The book sold more than 404,000 copies and has been translated into 18 languages.

While the new show marks the first of the author's novels to be adapted for the small screen, Levy is no stranger to the industry.

Steven Spielberg bought the rights to Levy's best-selling novel "If Only It Were True" and released the film adaptation "Just Like Heaven," starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, in 2005. It rose to the top of the North American boxoffice with more than $16 million in its opening weekend.

Levy more recently penned the script for a feature-film version of his popular book "London mon amour" alongside Philippe Guez and his sister, Lorraine Levy, who also will direct.

Starring Levy's "dream cast" of actors including Vincent Lindon, Pascal Elbe, Virginie Ledoyen and Florence Foresti, the cross-channel romantic comedy began production in the summer in London and is filming in Paris. It will be released in June in France by Pathe.

"I've had a great time with all three of my experiences with adaptations," said Levy, who was more actively involved with "London" and "Be There" than "Heaven." "Writing is a form of freedom. If we can't have fun in an industry whose goal is 'entertainment,' then we lose that freedom."

He added: "A book tells a story in eight or nine hours. A film has to tell it in one or two. The film is the point of view of one reader among many others."
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