Stockholm, Sweden: First one, then two, then 20: a small Stockholm agency has in recent days been deluged with bids for the rights to air the hit comedy series starring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor turned wartime hero.“It’s been very, very busy. All around the world, people have asked for the rights because they want to broadcast it,” explains Eccho Rights co-founder Nicola Soderlund in the agency’s elegant offices in the Swedish capital.
“The latest we heard of is Latin America, we’re discussing with the US, Netflix, we’re discussing with many.”
In Italy alone, three or four broadcasters are currently vying for the rights, while in Greece, the show is airing nightly on primetime.
“In a way, it’s an act of solidarity with the Ukrainians, and at the same time, of curiosity — you want to see who he is,” Soderlund says of Zelensky.
The president’s stature has soared on the international stage since the start of the invasion, impressing the world with his fearless determination in the face of the Russian onslaught.
“I went to lunch with him in Kyiv,” recalls Soderlund. “He had all these crazy and funny ideas”.
‘Needed a hero like him’
“We needed a hero like him, after Trump and all that,” Eccho Rights managing director Fredrik af Malmborg interjects.
With “Servant of the People”, life imitated art.
In the series, which ran for three seasons, Zelensky played a high school teacher propelled to the presidency after a student’s video of him ranting about corruption in Ukraine went viral.
The show’s success propelled Zelensky to the presidency in real life.
While the company hasn’t had any contact with Zelensky himself recently, Eccho has been in contact with some of his representatives.
“One has fled to Turkey and the other is in Rotterdam, but they are in contact with ‘Vova’, as they still call him”, af Malmborg says.
The details of the rights contracts being negotiated are confidential, but the rights cost “around a million euros”.
Eccho Rights also has another series produced by Zelensky in its catalogue, “Svaty” (“In-Laws”).
By Marc Preel
© Agence France-Presse
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