East-West spy drama to get American debut

While "Deutschland 83" gets its permiere as a mini-series at Berlinale on Tuesday and Wednesday, it also makes entertainment history as being the first German series to be broadcast for American audiences.

East-West spy drama to get American debut
Actor Jonas Nay stars in Deutschland 83 as Moritz (German) or Martin (English). Photo: DPA

The series, entitled "Germany 83" in English, takes place in Berlin and looks at a young East German man who is recruited by the Stasi and sent to West Berlin as spy to infiltrate the West German army.

Broadcaster SundanceTV and FremantleMedia International partnered with German broadcaster RTL on the production of the eight-part show.

"It's a fresh and heart-pounding thriller set against the remarkable political backdrop of 1980s East and West Germany," said UFA president Sarah Barnett.

UFA is producing the show, created by German producer Jörg Winger and his American wife, Anna Winger, who wrote the novel "This Must be the Place".

The film is set in 1983, a year of high tensions in the Cold War and the year the German band Nena released their anti-war transatlantic hit, "99 Red Balloons".

Looking at German press and English-language press reports about the new show, there is one notable difference to be made. In the German broadcast, the main character played by Jonas Nay is called Moritz, while English audiences will know him as Martin.

Before making its television debut, Deutschland 83 is getting a premiere at the Berlinale Film Festival, split between Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Berlinale Special Series programme.

"I could not imagine a better frame to present the premiere of this extraordinary East-West story than Germany's biggest film festival in the heart of a once-divided city," said RTL's head of fiction series Philipp Steffens.

Couch potatoes, however, will have to be patient. RTL announced in January that Deutschland 83 will first air on German television in autumn 2015. 

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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.