In France, It's Pay to Play

It figures.

French President Jacques Chirac offered to help makers of “The Da Vinci Code” film in the Louvre, and suggested they cast his daughter’s best friend in the leading female role, Newsweek magazine said. “We thought it was going to be a five-minute thing, like a trip to the Oval Office — a photo and a handshake,” said producer Brian Grazer of the hour-long meeting he and director Ron Howard had at Chirac’s office in December 2004.

Newsweek said Chirac offered to smooth out any problem they might encounter in their request to film some scenes at the Louvre — where The Da Vinci Code’s murder-and-religion mystery begins and ends.

In addition, said Grazer, Chirac suggested his daughter’s best friend — whom Newsweek describes as “an actress of some acclaim in France” — for the film’s leading female role, which in the end fell to Audrey Tautou.

Chirac also “wondered aloud, half seriously, if they could sweeten the paycheck for actor Jean Reno,” Newsweek said. Reno plays the detective assigned to the case.

“That was hilarious,” said Howard of the request on Wednesday. “Fortunately the deal was already closed.”

No matter if its Opie Cunningham or Saddam Hussein, Chirac makes it clear that France can be bought. It would behoove the French to look at their German friends and follow along by making a leadership change, unless of course, they enjoy being disrespected by the rest of the world.

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