Showtime has set a June 28 date to air 100%, a documentary about New England Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman’s recovery from a devastating knee injury that shelved him in 2017, through a PED suspension that cost him the first four games of 2019, to being named Super Bowl MVP in February when his 10 catches helped fuel the Pats to a 13-3 victory over the Rams.
Edelman and Assaf Swissa are using the docu to launch Coast Productions, a Boston-based company that will mount projects that include a romantic comedy set in the world of pro football, and a pseudo-autobiographical half hour dramedy series they will pitch around town with their ICM Partners reps in July. The film and TV projects were written by Swissa, Edelman and Kyler Schelling, who directed the Showtime docu, and wrote it with Swissa.
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Schelling, Swissa and Edelman cut their teeth on a number of humorous videos that Edelman stars in, that has the Pats star playing everything from an inept smoothie maker, car salesman and talk show host. Swissa and Edelman met while Swissa had seen a candy company he launched crater, and when Edelman was nursing a broken ankle in 2012, both of them not knowing what the future held. They hatched a social media plan that allowed them to create content surrounding Edelman, and sell his football products. They used the proceeds to fund and produce the documentary, which Showtime acquired in finished form.
“This is the house that T-shirts built, and like everything else we do, the film was self-financed and we are very passionate about what we are doing, and felt it was not worth taking on investors so that we get to put our spit on it,” said Swissa, who notes that Edelman’s videos helped him sell more merchandise directly to his fans than any other player.
Even a Giants fan like myself can’t help but see the appeal in Edelman, an undersized player who takes a licking and manages to catches everything thrown his way by passer Tom Brady, who manages a cameo in this documentary. Edelman has a strong screen appeal and a good sense of humor, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t work even harder to return from an injury that leaves many football players a shell of their former selves.
Swissa said he and Edelman didn’t want to make the usual injured jock docu and so the result here is a mix of humor and grit. So there is Mark Wahlberg, explaining why Edelman isn’t famous enough to merit his own film; a weed-smoking Snoop Dogg reading the suspension letter that the NFL sent Edelman for ingesting PED’s while on the recovery trail; and there’s superchef Guy Fiere explaining the severity of Edelman’s ACL tear, using a stalk of celery as a visual aid; and avowed New York sports fan Michael Rapaport in proper agony, providing voiceover descriptions as Edelman regains his star on the field.
Edelman makes clear that his priority remains on the field, under the watchful eyes of his perfectionist head coach Bill Belichick and QB Brady. But he looks like an actor and doesn’t rule it out thought even if right now his contributions will be more behind the scenes.
“I’ve always had a slapstick sense of humor and we started making those videos, Smoothie Tyme, Burger Time, Cops and all these fun gag videos just to give people a look inside at our personalities,” Edelman told Deadline. “What I play is a tough game, and you’re handling media during games and practice and it’s all about football. This was an outlet to showcase and communicate a synergy directly with fans and showing them what you’re really about. After doing that first Smoothie Time video, seeing the cutting, and learning about the background of making and producing content, thinking it’s going to be complete shit, and then we make it and then people like it, that’s when I got interested in being part of a producing team. It’s fun to have a say and we’ve got a good team and that’s when I really got interested in doing more.”
Asked if he wants to be on camera for the projects he and Swissa will launch, Edelman wasn’t sure.
“I’ve got a lot of meat on the bone with football, that’s my job and what I do and I love it and it’s my passion,” he said. “But I’ve always been interested in acting, back to junior high and doing plays. Can I predict the future? No. But do I see myself getting into it, if I am comfortable? Yes. But when you get to that level, you have to treat it like I do football, where you have to be accountable and don’t want to be the guy on set who doesn’t know his lines. That’s stressful, so I don’t know if I want that yet. But I definitely want to check it out, and see. The documentary is exciting for me, it’s our Real Deal Holyfield type thing and Showtime really stepped up. It will be fun to see what people think of it because there are serious parts but also fun parts.”
Despite his engaging nature, recovery from ACL sounds grueling and dreadful.
“I wouldn’t just say it was injury, it was a life thing,” he said. There was a lot of adversity I had to overcome last year, with the injury, and the suspension, family matters. There is a realism as to what athletes go through in that situation and showing what type of people we are. You see us on Sunday and don’t realize the stress and anxiety, it’s a look on what I went through. It was uncomfortable, because it started as a look at an injury and then it became about many other things and then you’re thinking, holy shit, maybe I got myself into something too deep here.” Edelman said you see all the doubts in the docu.
“I’ve come back from other major injuries, like breaking both feet, hurt shoulders, broken arms and hands. When you get into one of these long injuries, where it’s 12-16 months before you feel regular, the physical part is hard but the psychological part and self consciousness is harder. Will I be the same? Those things you battle on a daily basis. You’re a competitor and now you’re competing against yourself, trying to get better. It’s tough and I don’t wish it on anyone.”
Edelman began to feel better in his first game back from suspension when he caught a ball, took the hit and got back up and returned to the huddle.
As for his videos, Edelman said his teammates and coach indulge this passion, even Bellichick and Brady when they are chided in those videos that started Coast Productions.
Said Edelman: “They’ve giggled at the content I’ve put on Instagram, where I’d made fun of Coach on a birthday post, he’ll give me [breaking into his Belichick impression] an…”You know, I saw your post,” and I’ll say, oh, sorry coach, and he’ll say, “It was a good one, Jules, just great.” It’s awkward, so you don’t really know if he thinks it’s good or not.”
Coast is repped by ICM Partners and Fred Toczek at Felker Suddleson Abramson, which brokered the deals for the documentary. Here are some of Edelman’s early videos:
Here’s Showtime’s release about the docu:
NEW YORK – June 3, 2019 – SHOWTIME has announced that it will air the new documentary film 100%: JULIAN EDELMAN, premiering on Friday, June 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on-air, streaming and on demand. Narrated by acclaimed actor Michael Rapaport and featuring original conversations with everyone from Mark Wahlberg to Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Deion Sanders, the film is an imaginative look inside Julian Edelman’s underdog journey from major injury and NFL suspension to Super Bowl MVP in 2019.
When injury and controversy threatened Julian Edelman’s NFL career, he returned to his father, an auto mechanic, to fix what was broken. 100% is an intimate behind the scenes look at the three-time Super Bowl Champion during a critical juncture in his life. After a dramatic victory in Super Bowl 51, Edelman suffered a devastating knee injury that forced him to miss the entirety of the 2017 season. The film joins Edelman as he attempts to overcome the challenge of a season ending surgery and PED suspension all while exposing the unorthodox origins that built him into one of the NFL’s most affable stars.
“While Julian Edelman’s journey to Super Bowl MVP is acutely unique, sports fans everywhere will relate to his determination and his reliance on an inner circle of family and friends to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “The access and timeliness of this project are the hallmarks of SHOWTIME Sports unscripted programming. We are proud to deliver the life story of one of America’s most popular athletes amidst a career-defining moment.”
“If you would have told me when I got hurt two years ago that 100% would be the result, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Edelman. “Showtime has been amazing. It turns out making movies is a lot of fun.”
“Much like Jules’ career, 100% probably should have never happened, but Showtime shared our vision, and empowered us creatively to make something we hope is unlike anything you’ve seen before,” said Assaf Swissa, Edelman’s business partner and the film’s executive producer.
100%: JULIAN EDELMAN enters into Edelman’s inner circle of family, friends and fellow football players, while traversing the complex relationship between a father and a son who sacrifice everything to make it to the NFL. Viewers come to understand what drives the undersized former junior college quarterback, and why you do not bet against Julian Edelman.
Written by Swissa and Director Kyler Schelling, 100%: JULIAN EDELMAN is the first feature produced by Swissa and Edelman. It is the latest in a series of unscripted programming from SHOWTIME Sports Documentary Films that spotlights contemporary subject matter. Additional titles in the lineup include the 2017 Sports Emmy® Award-winning DISGRACED, the multi-part series SHUT UP AND DRIBBLE, BIPOLAR ROCK ‘N’ ROLLER, and QUIET STORM: THE RON ARTEST STORY, exploring the turbulent life of one of the NBA’s most controversial figures.
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