‘Lilyhammer’ premiere puts bums on sofas

More than half of Norway’s TV-viewing public settled in to their couches on Wednesday night for the first episode of the much talked-about drama series ‘Lilyhammer’.

'Lilyhammer' premiere puts bums on sofas
Photo: Rubicon TV

A "fish-out-of-water story" about a New York mobster starting anew in Norway, 'Lilyhammer' stars Steven Van Zandt, a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, as Frank 'The Fixer' Tagliano, who enters a federal witness protection program after giving authorities information about his boss.

Norway's national broadcaster NRK had planned to air the first episode on New Year’s Day, but delayed the debut after discovering that production company Rubicon TV had signed a string of product placement deals.

The broadcaster finally agreed last week to air the show several weeks later than planned after Rubicon submitted a re-edited version without the product placements, which NRK said breached the terms of its contract.

When the show finally hit Norway’s TV screens on Wednesday evening, 998,000 viewers tuned in to see what all the fuss was about, which NRK said gave it a 57 percent market share.

“We’re talking weekend figures on a weekday for our ‘odd’ mafia series,” said NRK chief analyst Kristian Tolonen.

The eight-part series will continue to air on Wednesdays on NRK1.

“We’re extremely happy that viewers seem to like the series and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll continue to watch it,” said NRK project manager Tone Rønning

The first episode of the show, which is set in Lillehammer, will be available for streaming online beginning February 6th by Netflix subscribers in Canada, Latin America, and the United States.

"I am very careful with my choices and this project was so exciting to me because of the wonderful writing, the rich characters and the fascinating culture of Norway," Van Zandt said in a release.

"Netflix is the perfect home for such a unique show," he added.

"A sports fan, Frank wants to make his new life in Lillehammer, the Norwegian town that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, or as he calls it 'Lilyhammer,'" Netflix said.

"Frank has visions of a paradise of 'clean air, fresh white snow and gorgeous broads' far away from the temptations of the Big Apple and from mob hit men," the California-based firm continued.

Events in the show, of course, turn out to be spectacularly different, Netflix promised.

Sixty-one-year-old Van Zandt, whose birth name was Steve Lento, became a self-made actor by playing the right-hand man to the lead character in blockbuster HBO television series ‘The Sopranos’.

Van Zandt joined ‘The Sopranos’ in 1999 as Silvio Dante, a strip club owner and key adviser to the series' New Jersey-based Mafia boss.

The Sopranos became a US pop culture hit during a six-season run that ended in June of 2007.

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Norwegian reality show introduces sexual consent rule for contestants

The latest series of Paradise Hotel in Norway has introduced an on-screen consent requirement for contestants planning on having sexual contact following allegations of abuse on the Swedish version of the show.

Norwegian reality show introduces sexual consent rule for contestants
The show has introduced on-screen consent requirements. Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Contestants in the latest series of Paradise Hotel, which aired on Monday night, will require contestants to demonstrate on-screen with a thumbs up to the camera that they consent to any sexual activity.

“We were told from day one that if we were to have sex, we had to consent with a thumbs up to the camera from both parties,” Stian Trulsen, a contestant on the hit reality series, told newspaper VG

Earlier this year, it was alleged that a male contestant abused two female participants on the Swedish edition of the show. Swedish prosecuting authorities are investigating the alleged abuse. 

Christian Meinseth, program manager for production company Nent which makes the show, said the new rules weren’t directly introduced because of what happened on the Swedish programme. 

“No, but we have, of course, worked with the series and looked at our practices around the format, so we ensure that Paradise Hotel is both a good watch and fun to be a participant in,” Meinseth told VG. 

“We are very concerned about the participants’ safety, and we have not had any challenges around the new rules,” Meinseth added. 

The program manager added that the production company wanted the show to reflect a more modern approach to sex. 

“At the same time, we are also careful to monitor language use and how the participants describe each other. Everyone should show respect for each other, and there will be more focus on the game itself. Viewers can look forward to an exciting and entertaining season,” he said. 

The 15th season of the show, which has been on Norwegian tv screens since 2009, will also include a “paradise talents” week where there is a focus on inner values as part of several on-screen and off-screen measures to try and promote more healthy sexual relationships.