EXCLUSIVE: The story of Brazilian TV host turned politician Wallace Souza, who was accused of ordering murders in order to bolster ratings of his crime series, is to be made into a seven-part documentary series for Netflix.
The SVOD service has ordered Killer Ratings from British factual producers Caravan and Quicksilver. Caravan is the All3Media-backed firm responsible for Nat Geo’s Buried Secrets of the Bible and is run by Dinah Lord, who has won BAFTAs including in 2015 for Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, while Quicksilver is run by Eamonn Matthews, who has won Emmys for series including PBS and BBC’s Outbreak: The Truth About Ebola and PBS and Channel 4’s Undercover Syria.
Souza rose to fame as the host of Canal Livre, a TV show broadcast in Manaus, the remote and lawless city surrounded by jungle in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon. The show was a hit but its reputation was tarnished when it was claimed that Souza was only able to make it first to certain crime scenes because he had ordered the murders himself. His former bodyguard accused him of being the head of a criminal organization.
In October 2009, he was charged with murder, drug-trafficking, intimidation of witnesses, illegal carrying of arms and the formation of a criminal and was expelled from the state assembly. After the arrest warrant was issued, he disappeared but subsequently gave himself up before dying of a heart attack the following year.
The team behind Killer Ratings has assembled a huge trove of information on the case, including exclusive interviews with people inside Canal Livre, close relatives, friends, police and members of the police task force, as well as previously unseen footage of Souza filmed in the middle of the scandal.
It is series directed by Daniel Bogado (The Hunt for Boko Haram) and series produced by Suemay Oram (Drugs Map of Britain). It is exec produced by Matthews, Lord and Alex Marengo (Captive). It was commissioned by Ben Cotner, the Wild Wild Country and Ugly Delicious commissioner who recently left Netflix to head up A24 and IAC Films’ non-fiction joint venture, and London-based Kate Townsend.
Bogado said, “What I thought I knew about Wallace Souza when I set out, turned out only to be the starting point of this extraordinary story. When I looked deeper, I saw the events that followed were full of the most jaw-dropping turns, twists and shocks which would be deemed too outlandish in a Hollywood script.”