Pioneering Black Star Josephine Baker Takes Spotlight in Studiocanal English-Language Series

Studiocanal, the leading European production, distribution and international sales powerhouse, is teaming with France’s CPB Films (“Savages”) and Leyland Films (“Murder in Provence”) to develop a high-end English-language drama series about the trailblazing African American entertainer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, whom the partners describe as the world’s first Black global star performer.

Studiocanal, part of Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, will handle international distribution rights to the as yet untitled drama series.

The venture comes with the approval and full support of Baker’s family, said Jean-Claude Bouillon Baker, one of Baker’s foster children who wrote a book about his mother. Bouillon-Baker is also consulting on the series.

A Baker bioseries can draw on what Studiocanal CEO Anna Marsh describes as a “multi-faceted, brilliant life story.” Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905, initially performing in vaudeville before moving to the chorus lines of two big Broadway revues, 1921’s “Shuffle Along” and 1924’s “The Chocolate Dandies.”

Married twice by the age of 15, she got her big break after she moved to France, proving to be a sensation when she appeared on stage at the legendary Paris cabaret Folies Bergère in 1926, singing and dancing dressed in a short skirt of artificial bananas, a beaded necklace, sandals and nothing else.

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