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Sweden’s Filip and Fredrik get lost in the Big Apple

David Landes · 16 Apr 2009, 17:31

Published: 16 Apr 2009 17:31 GMT+02:00

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In one of several web-based video clips promoting their upcoming talk show, Filip Hammar and Fredrik Wikingsson are sitting in the back of a New York taxi cab while the driver attempts to describe in heavily accented English exactly what lies in store for viewers who tune into “Söndagsparty med Filip & Fredrik” (‘Sunday Party with Filip & Fredrik’).

“It’s a family event…a Swedish show in New York…to be guests from Sweden and America…they’re filming,” says the confused cabbie, before Filip and Fredrik break in from the back seat.

Switching to Swedish, the two describe the programme as “a Swedish show for Swedes” and something they expect to be very “family oriented”.

But judging from past small-screen efforts by this pair of perpetually adolescent Swedes, one would be wise to think twice about exactly what these two mean by “family oriented”.

After all, this is the same Filip and Fredrik who last year sat and filmed themselves in a hotel room while a couple behind them had sex in an attempt to study exactly how many calories are burned using different sexual positions.

And of course, who could forget their interview with US television star and pin-up girl Pamela Anderson in which they paused to reflect on the fact that there were undoubtedly men all around the world fantasizing about the woman sitting across from them on the couch.

"The FCC has got America by the balls," Fredrik Wikingsson tells The Local, referring to the agency in charge of ensuring the country's airwaves remain "family friendly".

But as Söndagsparty is destined for broadcast in Europe, it remains free from the long arm of the FCC, thus leaving Filip and Fredrik a bit more leeway when it comes to defining the bounds of good taste.

So it remains anyone’s guess as to just exactly what may be in store for Söndagsparty, although the pair describe the programme’s April 19th premiere at 9pm on Sweden’s Kanal 5 as “a little sweaty, a little naked, and a whole lotta soul”.

Family-oriented indeed.

When The Local catches up with Wikingsson (or Fredrik, as he is more commonly known), he’s scrambling to settle a myriad of last minute details before heading to New York to meet up with Filip, who has ventured ahead to finalize arrangements with the studio and set about securing US celebrities to appear on the programme.

“We’ll be in the same studio used by Tyra Banks,” Fredrik explains, referencing the former supermodel turned TV host.

“We’re also going to have a direct link to Times Square so we can broadcast live from there too.”

Even though the programme will be based in New York, Filip and Fredrik expect most of their guests to be Swedish celebrities; to have a studio audience made up of New York-based Swedes; and to have the programme itself mostly in Swedish.

Which begs the question: why, exactly is all this happening in New York rather than in the closer and decidedly less costly confines of a Stockholm television studio?

“It’s more exciting to see these celebrities in New York and more interesting to observe Sweden from afar,” says Fredrik.

He explains that Swedes – himself and his sidekick Filip included – are more inclined to talk about Sweden and find the humour in what goes on there when they are outside the country.

He admits as well that they hope to book at least a few US celebrities on ‘Sunday Party’, using Swedish notables—and their midtown Manhattan studio –as bait.

“For example, we know that Matthew Perry from [the sitcom] ‘Friends’ is a huge tennis fan and we know he has a new film out, but we could never get him to come to Sweden,” Fredrik explains.

“But if we tell him that Björn Borg is going to be on the show and that he could come sit next to him on the couch he would probably be more inclined to accept our invitation. Who knows, maybe we could get the two to play a little mini-tennis against one another in the studio?”

Being in New York is also a carrot with which to draw Swedish celebrities, many of whom would welcome an opportunity to spend the weekend in the Big Apple.

“You can get Swedes to come because, well…because it’s New York!” he says.

The show’s premiere will include an unlikely mix of high- and low-brow guests, including Goth rocker Marilyn Manson, Swedish writer and comedian Jonas Gardell, as well as Paul and Craig Pumphrey, two brothers and martial arts experts who’ve made a career out of breaking things.

“We also want to have a new sort of talk show guest,” Fredrik explains.

“We’ve met so many extraordinary non-famous people along the way, so if something extraordinary happens in a small city in Sweden, like some 5-year-old boy getting locked in Ikea overnight, we’d love to get him and his mother to New York to hear what it was like.”

According to Fredrik, it is precisely such “unnecessary journalism” which makes for the most interesting stories and some of the most entertaining television.

Of course, “Söndagsparty” may also provide viewers with the chance to witness something a bit more long-lasting than the proverbial 15 minutes if Filip succeeds in convincing interested couples in allowing ‘Reverend Hammar’ of the Universal Life Church to exercise his newly acquired licence to perform wedding ceremonies in New York.

According to Fredrik, more than 300 couples have expressed interest in tying the knot with a comedian-turned reverend in front of a live studio audience.

Filip and Fredrik have been tight-lipped about exactly who will end up sitting on their talk show sofa. But as the premiere draws closer, the names of several more notable Swedes have popped up, including television chef Tina Nördstrom, singer-songwriter Håkan Hellström, actor Mikael Persbrandt, as well as members of the legendary Swedish comedy troupe Killinggänget.

American celebrities who’ve said they’re willing to sit down with these Swedish wunderkind comics include former talk show host Joan Rivers and actor Martin Sheen.

When it comes to other American guests, however, Filip and Fredrik sound more like they are describing hopes rather than reality.

“Mickey Rourke would be great, as would Whitney Houston or her ex-husband who seems to be more or less bananas,” Fredrik said on the Kanal 5 website, adding that his “dream guest” would be former US president and New York resident Bill Clinton.

The idea for “Söndagsparty” has actually been brewing for some time, but it has taken network executives some time to warm to what will be one of the most expensive shows it has ever produced.

Story continues below…

“The first idea we ever had when we came to Kanal 5 was to do a live show from LA,” Fredrik explains, adding that “the network thought we were crazy.”

The original concept morphed into “High Chaparall”, which helped boost Filip and Fredrik’s credibility with viewers and Kanal 5.

Then in November, the project gained new life after he and Filip finished a marathon 8-hour live broadcast coinciding with the US presidential elections.

Up until that point, nearly all of their television shows consisted of taped segments either recorded in a studio or taken from hours of footage gathered on the road.

“We realized the live thing could be good for us and that we didn’t have to suck at it just because we’d never done it before,” says Fredrik.

Initially, he and Filip wanted to do the show in Los Angeles, but eventually the pair settled on New York.

“It’s been very clear for us from day one why it’s a necessity to be in New York, but it’s sometimes been hard to convince some of the people with the money of why that is so necessary,” he says, adding that he and Filip have placated corporate bean counters with a “sort of a vague, trust us response”.

“I think we’ve convinced them of the concept but that could also be a GIANT mistake on their part.

“Who knows?” he says with a smile.

Interested in joining the studio audience for Söndagsparty?

Contact programme associate Anna in New York at +1-646-410-9603 to inquire about tickets for the show or visit the Kanal 5 website.

Related links:

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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