Cannes Diary: From disgraced D-listers to ex-drug dealing singers, festival embraces them all

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The Independent Culture

One of the less glamorous guests on the Croisette will be the disgraced pop producer Jonathan King, sentenced to seven years in prison in 2001 for sexually assaulting five teenage boys, and now reinventing himself as a film producer.

King is set to unveil a disturbing and controversial new project at this year's Cannes festival. Entitled Me Me Me, it is described as "a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet", and features shocking imagery of cartoon children committing various criminal offences.

"It's a social commentary," said the film's director, Paul Wiffen. "It's about how people are innocent as children but when they grow up they are often accused of one offence or another."

King is due in Cannes later this week, with the screening set to take place on Monday to a select group of backers. His collaborators for the project include the former Culture Club music producer Steve Levine.

As far as crimes are concerned, Cannes has a short memory. At last year's festival, a group of directors including Jean-Luc Godard backed Roman Polanski, who fled the US after being convicted for sex with an under-age girl.

Plan B to revisit drug-selling past

The east London rapper Plan B, who said that he dealt drugs before his music career took off, is to reprise his crimes on-screen.

According to the film's London sales agent, Eddie Leahy, Plan B (Ben Drew to his mother) has been cast to appear opposite Vinnie Jones and Ray Winstone in The Devil's Dandruff, which starts filming in August.

The film, to be shot at London's Elstree Studios, is an adaptation of the book by former Borehamwood gangster Jason Cook, There's No Room for Jugglers in My Circus, which tells of Cook's days as a drug dealer and addict. Plan B will play the part of Cook, who has also written the movie's script.

"I already knew I wanted to do music but I had this other side to me that said if anyone fucks with me it's OK to go and stab them," the rapper charmingly told the News of the World in February.

"I did something illegal because I was on the dole. I didn't sell hard drugs. I just sold spliff and I feel the same way about that as I did then. I think a bit of weed is fine and it is no different to alcohol."

Hardy classic gets an Indian twist

Michael Winterbottom's latest project, Trishna, being promoted in Cannes ahead of its release next year, sees Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles travel to India for a modern re-telling. Trishna stars Riz Ahmed as a rich Londoner who moves to Jaipur, where he falls in love with a local girl (Tess), played by Freida Pinto. Pinto kills her paramour and commits suicide.

This differs from the original book, in which Tess is executed. Given that some scenes are filmed in Hindu temples, this twist is unlikely to go down well there. In Hindu culture, suicide victims are considered grossly sinful, and are condemned to walk the earth as ghosts.

Allen's proposition to Carla Bruni

Woody Allen, opening the festival yesterday afternoon, revealed how he lured the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, to play her high-profile cameo in Midnight In Paris. "I was having breakfast with the Sarkozys and I thought she was beautiful and charming and charismatic and I just said, 'Would you like to be in a movie with me?'," said Allen. "My approach to casting is to hire great people. And if they are great in the movie, you take the credit for it. I have done that for many years and it works like a charm."