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Sex may sell, but skin certainly draws an audience. A long line of eager listeners snaked through the Grand Palais to get a seat in the packed main auditorium for Kim Cattrall’s keynote talk about her new dark comedy, Sensitive Skin.
Cattrall is on the Croisette to offer some star power to the sales team for the Canadian remake of the 2005 BBC series starring Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous). She took on the project, after an eight-year break from the small screen while working on film and stage, when the BBC’s Jon Plowman gave her a DVD of the show.
“I was immediately drawn to the intelligence and the humor of it, and very much reminded of Sex and The City,” she said. “In those years, especially after AIDS, sex was so terrifying to speak about, and we started showing it in a humorous way. I felt Sensitive Skin was doing a similar thing about getting older. Women my age have very much to say, but unfortunately this business doesn’t recognize that.”
Hollywood’s sidelining of older women was one of the main drivers for Cattrall in bringing this story to the screen as executive producer, she said. She called Hollywood’s focus on youth “suffocating.”
But she cautioned that show should not be lumped in with women’s programs. “As much as I think this is a woman’s story, I think it is a human story. I’d be a bit sad if it was considered a women’s show,” she said.
Cattrall’s character, a former model, has been admired and objectified her entire life and is now facing the reality of time and gravity, as well as the loss of power and the internal conflict that accompanies it.
It’s not a women’s story precisely because it’s so universal, she said: “After all, men age too, don’t they?” she asked to audience laughter.
Importing the drama to North America required a slight change in tone from the original comedic format of the BBC’s version to the more intense, dark-comedy take that Cattrall compares to Six Feet Under. “It’s very interesting to get the tone right with any British show import,” she said. “You can’t do it verbatim, especially on this subject matter. You have to consider your audience very, very clearly.”
The drama was tailored not only to North American sensibility but also integrated the city of Toronto into the story.
Originally set up at HBO, Cattrall was is in Cannes to sell. “I’m here to find the show a home,” she said.
Sensitive Skin is produced by Rhombus Media with Baby Cow Productions, Bell Media’s the Movie Network, and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central. Tricon Films & Television executive produced and is handling international sales at MIPTV.
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