Woody Allen starts Paris shoot with Carla in the wings

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Director Woody Allen began shooting his latest movie in Paris on Monday, with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy waiting in the wings to take her first major film role.

Despite a starry cast including Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard and American talents Owen Wilson and Kathy Bates, pre-publicity for "Midnight in Paris" has focused on the supermodel-turned-singer's big screen debut.

Bystanders saw none of the onscreen stars on Monday at the filming location, a second storey Paris apartment in an upscale part of the city's Right Bank, surrounded by film equipment trucks and screened by black sheets.

But Allen -- the 74-year-old actor, screenwriter, director and multiple Oscar-winner most famous for his comedies of manners -- was himself briefly spotted leaving the set at around lunchtime.

The costumes of extras standing near the flat appeared to confirm that the film will be set in the 1920s. Allen's agent Shelby Kimlick has said the movie will tell the story of a family shaken up by a Paris business trip.

Filmcrew members bore badges marked with the film's industry codename, WASP, which one explained stands for: "Woody Allen's Summer Project".

Bruni-Sarkozy revealed last year she had been invited by Allen to feature in the film, but President Nicolas Sarkozy's 42-year-old wife admitted she is not an experienced actress and is not quite sure what to expect.

"I'm not an actress at all. Perhaps I'll be completely hopeless but I can't miss an opportunity like this one. When I'm a grandmother I'd like to be able to say I made a film with Woody Allen," she told an interviewer.

© 2010 AFP

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