The Diva of French Television

A hot young screenwriter who has made gay OK for millions of French viewers, Nicolas Mercier sips champagne, dons a feathered hat, and says he wants to see Colin Farrell and Jude Law go at it.

BY Amy Huntington

June 29 2009 11:00 PM ET

It seems it wasn't just the menopausal crowd that complained. You just found out a few days ago that season 3 has probably been shelved because the network decided the sex scenes in two were too shocking for prime-time. That just shows the hypocrisy of the system. It was fine to show men kissing in the first season of Clara Sheller . But when season two had two men doing what heterosexual couples are shown doing all of the time, all of a sudden it's "shocking."

Pelinard-Lambert told me that in the context of the current economic recession TV channels worldwide are walking on eggs with any subject that is slightly taboo or edgy. They're avoiding anything outside the margins. It's the fact that television audiences even see the series as edgy or taboo that is frustrating. It should be natural. For me, I will have achieved my goal when no one thinks twice about a character's sexuality.

Your fans seem really upset. Well, I've been approached to write the script for a Clara Sheller film, so those characters won't disappear into the void. And if the film happens, it will be nice to work in a media that offers more artistic freedom than television.

You've written some of your own life into your stories. For example, your father's quote "It's as if my son were dead" was repeated word-for-word by the father in the telefilm Le ciel sur la Tete, about a young Parisian man coming out to his parents. That's the most literally I've ever drawn from real life. There are facets of my characters' personalities that resemble my own. But I've just finished writing a script about three 50-year-old women going through a sort of midlife crisis, and their stories speak to me more strongly than those of my young gay characters.

Your life seems anything but domestic. You're constantly on the move between your three homes, never staying in one place more than a few days at a time. So what made you decide to settle down and tie the knot with Paul [Krieger, Mercier's partner of 10 years]? I prefer to have three houses and one lover rather than vice versa. It's easy to have a lot of lovers. It's more difficult to stay with one person and be loyal to him. I chose the harder path.

Tags: television

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