COPENHAGEN -- Rufus Gifford is a different kind of ambassador
He’s the media star kind. With his own show.
Gifford, the ambassador to Denmark, is a former Obama fundraiser and political appointee, who took the idea of transparency in government to a place no man has gone before. He let Danish TV cameras in to film his work and his life.
Even with catchy title “I Am the Ambassador from America,” the show was supposed to draw a small, cult audience of foreign policy geeks.
“So we thought if we were lucky we might have 50,000 Danes tune in,” Gifford says.
Instead, the Danes rolled in -- and tuned in -- in the hundreds of thousands.
The show’s executive producer -- Erik Struve Hansen -- is still in shock.
“To Danish eyes he looks like a Hollywood star, (smiling) perfect smile, good looking, smart and so on,” Hansen says.
Almost like an American straight out of central casting.
But apart from a character, a show needs a plot. Enter -- kitchen left -- Gifford’s partner, Stephen DeVincent.
The two decided what they needed -- and maybe what the show needed -- was a good, new-fashioned wedding. Theirs.
It was a happy day -- and a big hit. And more
“And here was an element of diplomacy there, or politics,” Gifford says.
“We were in the same place, in Copenhagen City Hall, where the first same-sex unions in the world took place, Stephen and I got married,” Gifford says.
Naturally, the awards followed.
Having conquered Denmark, the show has now been picked up by Netflix and is running around the world.
Gifford laughs that it is true that you never know what sells on TV.
The ambassador, turned accidental TV star, is going global, and diplomacy may never be the same.