“I can say that we are working on the second season,” said Julien Leroux, CEO and founder of Paper Entertainment. “It’s not been officially green lit, but we are working on it, so hopefully we’ll have some good news by the end of the year.”
Leroux was speaking at the Asian Television Forum, part of the Singapore Media Festival, on Wednesday.
In his former role as senior VP of global scripted co-productions for Cineflix Media, Leroux was responsible for spotting and selling “Tehran” worldwide. The espionage thriller tells the story of a Mossad agent (Niv Sultan) who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in jeopardy.
“Tehran” was produced for Israeli network KAN by Donna Productions and Shula Spiegel Productions, in association with Alon Aranya’s Paper Plane Productions, with the participation of Cosmote TV. Leroux, who had been following the “Tehran” journey since 2018, had no doubts about its global legs.
“I think the pitch, the concept, was very easy to understand,” said Leroux. “It’s about the spy being trapped in an enemy country. So I think this in the first place is an exciting premise. And after, what made it exciting for me was that there was a very valuable talent attached to the series, Moshe Zonder, the lead writer of ‘Fauda.'”
“And after that, it was really all about the story itself. Something which is always important for me talking about local shows that can travel, is the fact that viewers who are not from Israel or Iran don’t need to have an encyclopedia or a PhD to understand this series,” said Leroux.
“The series is really about going straight into the action. It’s a very welcoming show. That’s something that is very important for me when, when approaching local shows, wherever they’re coming from, is having a premise which is universal.”
“Tehran” is Apple TV Plus’s first non-English language show, but it won’t be the last as Leroux says the streamer is developing several more. The business model was also a first for Apple, as it was buying into a series that was already produced, instead of creating and owning the IP 100%.
While Leroux didn’t have access to show success metrics, he said that “Tehran” has received tremendous feedback from India, Japan and Singapore.
Referring to international commissioning decisions for all streamers, not just Apple TV Plus, Leroux said, “I think something that is important for them is stories that can also travel and not be necessarily a local show for a local audience. It needs to be a local show for global audience.”
Leroux was in conversation with Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director at Omdia.