Amazon Prime Video launched the local version of its comedy show this month “LOL: Last One Laughing” in Italy where it quickly became the most-watched title of all time on the platform’s Italian service, said Amazon Studio Italian Originals manager Nicole Morganti, who in a exclusive interview with Variety discussed Amazon’s local strategy a little over a year after moving to Italy with a multi-genre roster. Edited excerpts.
Congratulations on “LOL”. He definitely caused a sensation in Italy. How much of a challenge has it been to produce?
Thank you. It comes after a difficult year in which people have been devastated by COVID and have had a huge urge to laugh. I am happy because we have succeeded in attracting all generations, from children to grandparents. He spoke to everyone and tapped into the greatest need we have right now, which is laughter and levity.
This show is a Japanese format which is also performed in Mexico and Australia. How many adjustments have you made?
When I composed the cast, I focused on making it diverse. Some comedians came from YouTube, others from linear television; some were bigger names than others. The important thing was that they were all connected… It’s really an ensemble show, and no one tried to stand out. They all supported each other. It’s a mix of slapstick and stand-up. We have added a few things.
Amazon is now launching “LOL” in many international territories, isn’t it?
Yes. It is a huge success in Japan where he has been touring for eight seasons; then came the Mexican version which was also a big hit; then the Australian who also went very well. And now Germany and Italy, which launched at the same time on April 1. Very soon [on April 23] the French version will come, followed by Spain [and Canada]. Germany have already announced the second season.
Will there be a second ‘LOL’ season in Italy?
All I can say is this is our most watched content on Prime Video in Italy.
What are the other unscripted Amazon shows in Italy? How important is unscripted to Amazon in the country?
We launched “Celebrity Hunted,” a docu-film directed by “Ferro” talent, on [pop star] Tiziano Ferro is very well done; then we did “LOL”. In the future, we will have the second season of “Celebrity Hunted” and we have developed a show in Italy called “Dinner Club”, an innovative culinary travel story. Then there is the documentary series “All or Nothing: Juventus”. It’s a great Amazon IP, which has been made all over the world. And Juventus are the third most followed football club on social media in the world.
Unscripted gets a bad envelope [in Italy]. Nobody believes it, because it’s considered a low cost, trashy genre. It is very difficult to convince talent to do unscripted. Especially when you are trying to attract movie talent on board. But I really believe in it. I am very passionate about trying to innovate in a country where unscripted orders are usually decided based on budget and time constraints, and the need to fit into a linear timeline, with a predetermined duration. . Now we can raise the bar and do something that has never been done before: just think about who the audience is and how we can give them something new.
Can you give me an overview of what’s in the pipeline on the scripted side?
We are shooting “Anni da Cane” (Dog Years) our first film, which we have decided to make for our young audience. We want to be the hotbed of talent in Italy, which doesn’t just mean celebrities, but also applies to off-screen talent. We have a young director, Fabio Mollo, who knows very well how to work with young talents; the writers are very young; it’s a smart comedy we’re looking to launch after the summer. This year we will also be launching [comedy series] “Vita da Carlo,” [starring popular local comedian Carlo Verdone]. He is of course probably the most beloved comedian in Italy, who wrote it and of course stars; we’ll start shooting this soon. We are also on the set of “Bang Bang Baby” [Amazon’s first Italian original series] which is our most ambitious scripted show and I’m very happy with the way it’s going.
Do you plan to make other scripted announcements soon?
Our next announcements will all be scripted shows. We released two unscripted titles in 2020, due to COVID-19. This year we will be producing seven shows [in Italy], which were not all announced. And we will grow in 2022. But we will never look for volume in our production. It is not our mission. We will grow; we’re going to do some more unscripted; and probably the unscripted to scripted relationship will balance out. But the goal is certainly not to produce a product in bulk. We don’t want to be in a position where we’re producing so much that we can’t closely follow everything we’re doing very carefully. So when producers present us with 15 ideas, we tell them: “Don’t choose more than two ideas to present to us!” “
Clearly in Italy, where you also offer live sports, you have a very diverse offer which seems crucial for your strategy.
Our strategy is above all to be a hotbed of talent. And to create content that reflects current trends in Italy. Content that can connect us with audiences based on their greatest passions. Comedy is a genre that people really love; and the public is looking for us for that. So we imbue the comedy in content where you’d never expect it. In “Bang Bang Baby” there is irony. In “Anni Da Cane” there is irony. In “Dinner Club”, which is a cooking show, there is irony. We want to mix the passions of Italians with different genres and do it at the highest level. We want to offer a different angle to genres known and appreciated by Italians; but always with an unexpected perspective.