Norway hopes for first global TV hit with ‘Eyewitness’

National broadcaster NRK’s thriller series ‘Øyevitne’ (Eyewitness) has been bought by NBC Universal, marking the first time that a Norwegian drama series will have an American remake.

Norway hopes for first global TV hit with 'Eyewitness'
The rights to
Denmark has done it with ‘The Killing’‘Borgen’ and 'The Legacy'. Sweden has done it with ‘Wallander’ and the two countries teamed up to do it with ‘The Bridge’. But until now, Norway had not succeeded in riding the ‘Nordic Noir’ craze by having a hit series remade for an international audience. 
That is set to change now that the series ‘Øyevitne’ (Eyewitness) has been bought by NBC Universal, which plans to produce an American version of the Norwegian hit for the cable channel USA Network. 
“The American TV market is the best and they create an incredible amount of well-produced content. That they come here and want to have something that we have made is a big feather in the hat of Norwegian drama,” NRK spokesman Ivar Køhn told his own network. 
‘Øyevitne’ is about two teenage boys who witness four biker types get gunned down in a forest. The boys are spotted by the gunman but escape and then keep quiet about what they saw out of fear that their secret sexual relationship will be revealed. 
“Norway’s incredible show ‘Eyewitness’ follows a horrific crime story through the unlucky and unlikely eyes of two innocent witnesses. It’s a bone chilling thrill ride that not only exposes the details of a crime, but also the secrets of the witnesses who watched,” Dawn Olmstead, an executive of development at Universal Cable Productions, told Variety. 
American screenwriter Adi Hasak will helm the remake. He praised Norwegian creator Jarl Emsell Larsen’s vision for the original. 
“I was really inspired by Jarl’s execution of the series, not to mention the fact that he placed two gay teenage boys central to the action along with a female inspector who must choose between her career and family,” Hasak told NRK. 
“There have been several series to come out under the Nordic Noir genre, but Jarl takes this production to a whole new level,” he added. 
While NRK might be excited by the remake, there is certainly no guarantee that it will be a hit. Despite the success of the Danish original ‘Forbrydelsen’, the US version of ‘The Killing’ had a hard time breaking through and was cancelled by AMC twice before the series concluded on Netflix. 
The US version of ‘The Bridge’ was dropped by FX after just two seasons, while the Danish-Swedish version appears likely to return for a fourth.
The Danish political drama ‘Borgen’ was due to be remade for NBC but that version never saw the light of day. HBO now owns the rights to a remake but no premiere date has been announced. 

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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.