Rhombus Media producer Niv Fichman has sold adaptive rights for Slings & Arrows to Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), writes Gayle MacDonald for the Globe and Mail.
Fichman had been trying to convince Meirelles to collaborate on the adaptation of Jose Saramago's Blindness when he sent him the first season of the cult hit.
Meirelles promptly asked for the next two.
"'When he called, he asked me if I thought [this deal] would be possible? If it would be very expensive [for him to buy the rights]?" says Fichman, laughing, whose Toronto company has produced features films such as The Red Violin and the Emmy-winning Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach. 'I said, Fernando, I can tell you one thing. Money is not going to be the issue here.'
"Fichman's Canadian cast - including big names such as William Hutt, Paul Gross, Martha Burns, Rachel McAdams, Don McKellar, Susan Coyne and Bob Martin - all worked for scale on the production.
"'I'm not going to make any money in Brazil doing this,' concurs Meirelles, an observation that prompts Fichman to quip: 'You can say that none of us are getting rich off this. But it's such a wonderful thing, and such a natural way, for us to continue our collaboration.'
"Blindness is expected to hit theatres in Brazil in mid-September and in North America Oct. 13. The Brazilian version of Slings & Arrows will start shooting in early July, and Meirelles expects TV Globo to air the miniseries in November.
"When Slings & Arrows was conceived, even its creators and writers - actor-playwright Coyne, Kids in the Hall alumnus Mark McKinney and Martin, co-author of the current Broadway hit The Drowsy Chaperone - did not expect it would have a very broad audience. After all, it got off to a rocky start - green-lit by the CBC and then dropped before ever being produced, the drama finally found a home with TMN and Movie Central. Showcase also later found a berth for the fledgling show, which eventually was picked up in the United States on the Sundance Channel, where it earned Entertainment Weekly's vote as the year's best TV import.
"In Canada, it picked up numerous Gemini awards during its three seasons. In the U.S., it was favourably received by television critics at The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and The New York Times, which dubbed it 'absolutely addictive.'"
"Meirelles translated the script into Portuguese. He has had to cut about 10 minutes from each episode 'because our [broadcast] time slots are shorter.' He also tinkered a bit with some characters, taking into account obvious cultural differences.
"He said he hopes Slings & Arrows will 'bring some fresh air to Brazilian television.'"
It certainly did to ours.