EXCLUSIVE: The Nelson Rodrigues Estate, considered the largest and most diverse literary estate in Latin America, is partnering with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions for both a stage and film/TV adaptation of Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues’ seminal 1960 play The Asphalt Kiss. The project is also being produced in the U.S. by Wise Entertainment, co-founded by Rodrigues’ grandson Mauricio Mota, producers of six-time Emmy-nominated series East Los High and managers of the estate.
Often referred to as the Brazilian Shakespeare, Rodrigues’ writing dealt with controversial subjects such as racism, incest, adultery, and homosexuality, always pushing the boundaries of society. His theater work has been compared to that of Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee, and Tennessee Williams.
More from Deadline
- 'Fast Color' Series Adaptation In Works At Amazon By Viola Davis & Julius Tennon's JuVee Productions
- JuVee's Shakespeare-Inspired VR Series Pilot 'Operation Othello' Heads To Cannes
- 'Emanuel' Trailer: Steph Curry & Viola Davis-Produced Docu Honors Shooting Victims Of Emanuel A.M.E. Church
An incendiary work both 60 years ago and today, The Asphalt Kiss is one of Rodrigues’ most celebrated and popular works. It follows Arandir, a young man who comes to the aid of a dying stranger in a crowded city square in Rio de Janeiro. The stranger, realizing he only has moments to live, asks Arandir for a kiss, and he complies. This simple act of kindness sets off a media frenzy that engulfs Arandir and his family, changing their lives forever.
“The Asphalt Kiss talks about police brutality in Brazil. It is about disrespect against women – specifically the torturing of poor, black women by the police. It addressed ‘fake news’ way before the invention of the term. And it addresses homophobia through the portrayal of a man’s love for another man, even though the characters in the plot have no idea what the word means.
As Nelson Rodrigues’ daughter and the administrator of his estate, it is a pleasure to learn that award-winning producers such as Viola Davis and Julius Tennon were the ones chosen to work with Brazil’s greatest dramatic author,” said Sonia Rodrigues, chair of the estate.
“We are incredibly excited to be working with a company of JuVee’s integrity, creativity, and vision. I can’t think of a better partner to bring my grandfather’s groundbreaking work to life, both onstage and onscreen. JuVee’s long track record of narrative excellence and speaking truth to power is a perfect fit for The Asphalt Kiss,” said Mauricio Mota.
By offering up a blistering critique of Brazilian society’s sensationalism and homophobia in the 1960s, The Asphalt Kiss will shine a light on the myriad issues still plaguing our social and political discourse today.
“When Mauricio and Katie spoke to me about this special collaboration of his grandfather’s IP, I was touched. We have similar goals and our collective voices resonate in the zeitgeist and across the globe as it pertains to narrative storytelling with people of color,” said Julius Tennon, co-president of JuVee Productions. “I shared this with Viola, and she’s as excited as I am. So, we, collectively as a team, are moving forward and serving up the best that is Nelson Rodrigues.”
“To bring Nelson Rodrigues’s work to the U.S. market is a huge honor and responsibility. We spent time identifying which of his works would be the most relevant and powerful today, and also who would be the right producing partners to ensure we live up to and elevate this incredible body of work.” said Wise Entertainment co-president Katie Mota.
Wise Entertainment and JuVee Productions are planning both a Los Angeles and Broadway run for the play and are out to writers and directors for the film/TV adaptation.
JuVee Productions is repped by CAA, The Lasher Group and attorney James M. Feldman of Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman and Clark. Wise and The Nelson Rodrigues Estate are represented by CAA and DelShaw.