First, then two, then 20: a small agency in Stockholm has been eliminated in recent days with bids for the rights to broadcast the hit comedy series starring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor turned war hero.
“It’s been very, very busy,” explains Nicola Soderlund, co-founder of Eccho Rights. All over the world, people have requested the copyright because they want to broadcast it.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, broadcasters such as Britain’s Channel 4, Greece’s ANT1 and Romania’s PRO TV have flocked to join those who have won the rights to “Servants of the People.” , which was first broadcast in Ukraine in 2015.
“I think last week we did maybe 15 deals and we’re negotiating with 20 other countries,” said Soderlund, a poster for the series hanging from his desk.
“The latest we’ve heard of is Latin America, we’re talking to the US, Netflix, we’re talking to a lot of people.”
In Italy alone, three or four TV stations are currently vying for the rights, while in Greece the show is broadcast nightly in prime time.
Soderlund said of Zelensky: “In a way, it’s an act of solidarity with the Ukrainians, and at the same time curious – you want to see who he is.
The president’s stature has skyrocketed on the international stage since the start of the invasion, impressing the world with his fearless determination in the face of a Russian onslaught.
Soderlund first met Zelensky 10 years ago, when the Ukrainians were developing a game show called “Crack Them Up” in which ordinary people tried to make comedians laugh, a concept that was later adopted. sold to Vietnam, China and Finland.
“I went to lunch with him in Kyiv,” Soderlund recalls. “He had all the crazy and funny ideas.”
Pulling out his phone, he showed off selfies of himself taken with Zelensky at the 2016 Cannes film market – held in conjunction with the popular film festival – where producers, distributors and buyers do business.
– ‘Need a hero like him’ –
At that time, no one could have imagined that this “very funny comedian, very popular with the audience” would become the main target of Vladimir Putin and the “world leader who embodies and speaks”. voice of the whole nation”.
“We need a hero like him, after Trump and all that,” interjected Eccho Rights executive Fredrik af Malmborg.
With “Servant of the People”, life imitates art.
In the three-season series, Zelensky plays a high school teacher who is nominated for president after a video of a student of him raving about corruption in Ukraine goes viral.
The show’s success catapulted Zelensky to the presidency in real life.
“He always said, ‘In America, they’ve had actors who have been presidents for a long time,'” af Malmborg recalls.
While the company hasn’t had any recent contact with Zelensky, Eccho has reached out to several of his representatives.
“One has fled to Turkey and the other in Rotterdam, but they are still in contact with ‘Vova’, as they call him,” af Malmborg said.
The details of the rights contracts being negotiated are confidential, but the rights cost “about a million euros”.
Eccho Rights also has another Zelensky-produced series in its catalog, “Svaty” (“In-Laws”).
The company, with about 40 employees in Stockholm, London and Istanbul, has already donated €50,000 to the Ukrainian Red Cross and plans to donate more as more contracts are signed.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)