...Continued from page 1

Thursday's papers contained the surprise announcement of the purchase of the yacht 'Phocéa' by a wealthy Lebanese lady, Madame Mouna Al Ayoub, who fell in love with its entire 74-metre length and coughed up 36.5 million francs for it. The ship was costing 230,000 francs a month in dock-rental and Madame Al Ayoub merely had to wait until the price was right on the ship, valued at 55 million francs.

The Drought in France; Update

France waited in vain for rain all week. Predictions of what will happen if it does not rain soon became increasingly dire.

Gérard Depardieu Does TV

After the movies, the theatre and the wine-growing, France's 'motor' of the film world has said that he's going to do TV. In fact, there has been - now was - a thing called 'MIP-TV' going on down south at Cannes or Monaco; something about TV-series' future international sales.

This showed up in -TV!- news reports in the form of various cinema actors and directors, saying how lovely it was to doing work for TV for a change. They are all ready to fit their wide-screen personalities into the window of the little box.

Frankly, I was unaware they weren't 'doing' TV, but that's probably because I won't watch any mini-series because I'm pretty sure I am not going to see every episode, and this usually starts with not seeing the first one.

But the private TV outfits in France are making money and now they are sticking it into production, usually in co-pro deals with private channels in other European countries. From the start these productions are meant to be dubbed into every one of Europe's 11 or 12 languages and this means they can re-sell their wares into Anglo as well as Latino markets on other continents, after they cut out the racy 'Euro' bits.

The magic word is money, and even Europe's big stars are not immune to this lure. Gérard Depardieu, as a leader of the French industry, gives it all a stamp of approval - with the announcement that he has signed to do Alexandre Dumas' 'Count of Monte-Cristo' for TF1 as well as offering his production company, D. D. Productions as co-producer.

Four episodes are planned, each to run 90 minutes - the equivalent of four feature films, or two three-hour movies. I'm not quite certain the original book is long enough to fill six hours of screen time, but I'm sure the popcorn industry will be happy about it if they roll the video over into the micro-cinema complexes. Or you can spill home-made popcorn all over your sofa while watching the video cassettes.

Like Depardieu himself, it is a big project that involves Poster: Château de Monte Cristo building a replica of Marseille of the 19th century, and using a spiffed-up Château d'If as real decor.

Since Dumas' personal Château de Monte-Cristo is in my neighborhood, I paid it a flying visit yesterday, and found that it too, has a miniature Château d'If. Dumas had it built in 1843 - as sort of a 'folie' - and after Paris society had duly admired it, it was sold to pay off debts.

It is located in a nice park on a forested hill, marred only by the fact that it 'overhears' a terrific traffic exchange below, where the national 13 is joined by the N 186, beside the Seine at Le Pecq. The train line that was inaugurated in Le Pecq on 26. August 1837, was one of France's first and the trip from Paris took 25 minutes - which is less than the 35 minutes it now takes to Marly.

It is not easy to get to even by automobile, but there is a municipal bus, the line 10, which stops at the Square Monte-Cristo - whether you come by SNCF to Marly-le-Roi or by RER to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 18:00; on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. From November to April it is only open on Sundays, from 14:00 to 17:00. Always closed on Mondays. Entry to the park and the château is 30 francs or less.

Update of Last Week's Sports News for Unserious Fans

Monday's Le Parisien reported that the last Sunday's traditional Paris-Roubaix bicycle race was won by a nobody whose name is Frédéric Guesdon, 25. All the favorites did their best, but were overtaken at the very Bookstalls on the Quai Malaquais end by a surprise sprint by the young Breton.

A bike racer with a name, Laurent Jalabert, won the 'Flèche Wallonne' on Wednesday and had high hopes of picking off the equally illustrious Sunday race, 'Liège-Bastogne-Liège.' Like last week, I have no update on the outcome of this race and I think I'll switch to a sport that is not having its active season now - something like water-polo.

Update 24 Hour Motorcycle Race, at Le Mans

Last week I was not totally erroneous about the 24-hour enduro motorcycle race at Le Mans. It was at Le Mans and not in Malaysia as I half-thought.

The long event, watched by 80,000 fans in person, was won by a multinational team driving a Suzuki. This bike led from the sixth hour, closely followed by a Yamaha until it flipped out on an oil patch at one in the morning. It was Suzuki's first win at Le Mans since 1982.

Meanwhile, there was a motorcycle race in Malaysia too and it was won last Sunday by Olivier Jacque, who picked up a third place win the 250cc category in the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Shah Alam circuit.

Due to 'catching up' with last week's Sports News, there is no new Sports News this week.

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