Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, Assaf Swissa Launch Coast Productions With Showtime Injury Recovery Docu ‘100%’
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.
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 sell Edelman-related football product. They used the proceeds to make 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 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, doing voiceover 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 Bellichick and QB Brady. But he looks like an actor and doesn’t rule it out thought right now his contributions will be more behind the scenes at least to start out.
“I’ve always had a slapstick sense of humor and we started making those videos, Smoothie Time, 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 when they are chided in those videos that started Coast Productions. Even Bellichick and Brady.
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 Bellichick 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. Here are some of Edelman’s early videos:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/WZFl3oHW5So?version=3&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://pmcdeadline2.wordpress.com&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent’ allowfullscreen=’true’ style=’border:0;’>
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