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October 10, 2003
Monsieur Chips wants his slice of the pie

This is not your average education story:

A schoolmaster hailed as a selfless role model for French teachers after starring in a documentary about a year in his classroom is suing the film-makers, demanding 180,000 for his appearance.

The suit has given a sour taste to what had been one of French cinema's sweetest tales in years.

For 20 years, Georges Lopez taught in a one-room school deep in the Auvergne mountains. His only audience was his annual class of a dozen or so children, aged from three to 11, whom he taught English, maths, drawing and cooking.

But this year, the documentary Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have), named after the two basic verbs in French, attracted two million people to cinemas in France and turned M Lopez into the nation's Mr Chips, the decent, under-appreciated backbone of the education system. The film was also shown by the BBC.

When there's money being made these Selfless Role Models want their share.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:09 PM
Category: This and that

Good for him, I say. Media subjects are too often exploited and left with nothing when their stories become popular. Now all he has to do is to announce that he'll split the money with the families of the kids who were also portrayed and he'll be a hero again.

Comment by: Tim Haas on October 14, 2003 01:26 AM
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