×

Rosane Svartman, Paulo Halm Talk New Globo Hit ‘A Life Worth Living’

Brazilian TV giant Globo has brought to this year’s NATPE conference in Miami one of its biggest access prime time hits in the last eight years. “A Life Worth Living” underscores that, as Globo and its SVOD service Globoplay explore ever more shorter series formats – “Second Call,” “Aruanas,” telenovelas and melodrama are still kings in Latin America.

With a daily audience of 36 million, the show turns on Paloma (Grazi Massafera), a dreamy seamstress and mother of three whose life is turned upside down when she’s diagnosed with a terminal disease. Wrongly, as she later discovers, along with the really terminally ill  Alberto (Antonio Fagundes) a wealthy book publisher, on the verge of death. Between them a friendship blossoms inspired by a common love of literature and an awareness of how finite life is.

Variety talked with novela writers Rosane Svartman and Paulo Halm- whose work together has already earned them an International Emmy nomination for “Total Dreamer” -about their new hit.

It seems to me that Globo is driving into series which recast female and male representation, such as “A Life Worth Living, about s strong and caring head of family with love interests that are also caring, attentive and respectful. This has a broad impact on characters relationships and story dynamics as you bend trad telenovela narrative. Could you comment?

The telenovela is supported by melodrama and is a resilient narrative – which still attracts massive audiences in a world of increasingly fragmented viewership. The perception of the feminine and what an aspirational woman is for the audience (and society) has been changing over the last years and the telenovela needs to follow the construction of this new paradigm. In our opinion, a strong woman who supports her family while being a present mother has the right to live a love story and the right to dream, substituting the figure of the fragile, passive and romantic girl. The new protagonist is not passive; she acts and takes the reins of her life, of her destiny. This change in the protagonist leads to a change in all the characters related to her.

Literature is one main theme of your show, including fantasy sequences dramatizing literature, impacted by their own lives, as when Paloma, dressed as Alice in Wonderland, talks with the Cheshire Cat.  What was your thinking, introducing literature to a wider audience? references for the dream sequences? 

When we pay tribute to literature, we also celebrate the great stories and narratives that are important influences for a telenovela. And of course for us creators. We never underestimated our audience, and so from the outset, we believed they would accept this plot feature. Obviously, the texts were chosen because they establish a dialogue with the feelings lived by the characters in different moments of the plot. We used Shakespeare’s Othello; Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis, Don Juan Tenório, amongst others. Dream sequences attempt to portray the enjoyment of reading a good story. It was gratifying to hear that women realized that Paloma “traveled” in the stories as they “travel” by reading a good book. The aesthetic we used was proposed by the director Luiz Henrique Rios. He avoided realism, tried to unify dreams, which have different universes, using a studio language with some references from the story told.

Your show embraces the idea of living live at its fullest and also plumbs the idea of death, whose presence is felt throughout the novela. Again, could you comment?

Talking about death is taboo in our society. We spend a lot of time talking about uncertain things related to work and our love life, for example, while death is a real and inevitable fact, as Ana Claudia Quintana Arantes says in the book “A morte é um dia que vale a pena viver” (literally: “Death is a Day Worth Living”). But by treating death as a certainty, we immediately begin to talk about the importance of full life. This book was certainly an inspiration for the character of Alberto, played by Antonio Fagundes. He suffers from a terminal illness and begins to plan a good death, as he begins to see the need to live well, to be happy, to say goodbye to his loved ones in a healthy way. And who teaches Alberto to live this way is Paloma, by showing him the simplicity of her world.

Alberto ( Antonio Fagundes ) e Paloma ( Grazi Massafera ) na quadra da escola de samba Unidos do Bom Sucesso
CREDIT: Globo

One of the standout qualities of “A Life Worth Living” its versatility in modulation of tone from a more comedic approach to a far more dramatic scenes without ever losing its light-hearted pace. Seeing the success of the series on access prime time, what do you think today’s audiences  want or expect of a good telenovela? 

A telenovela in Brazil needs to appeal to various audiences – and this partly explains its massive audience. People of various ages and social backgrounds watch the same work, creating a kind of social bond. So it is common for a telenovela to have humor and drama. On the other hand, we authors also laugh, get emotional; we can be silly or deep in our daily lives. I think the dialogue with the public comes from the sensitivity of the authors behind the work. Also because the hardest thing about writing is to please the audience. It’s hard to make it work, in any media, as a matter of fact. In our case, besides Paulo and me, we seek diversity and representativeness beyond talent in our collaborators, and they enrich our way of seeing the world. This common sensitivity is what sets the tone of the telenovela.

Estudio Especial - Rosane Svartman e Paulo Halm

More TV

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Cuts Premiums by 50% Due to Coronavirus Crisis

    The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has cut 50% from the cost of premiums for the second quarter in response to the coronavirus crisis. SAG-AFTRA members were notified of the reduction on Wednesday via a message from SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White. They said the cuts would cover participants who had been [...]

  • Adam Schlesinger

    Tom Hanks, Rachel Bloom, Stephen Colbert, Stephen King Pay Tribute to Adam Schlesinger

    Whether it was the snarky but sincere pop of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, the ‘60s retro of Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do!” or the Broadway fare of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Adam Schlesinger’s music reached far beyond his public profile. The master songwriter passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 52 from complications related [...]

  • Aline Brosh Mckenna Adam Schlesinger

    'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Co-Creator Aline Brosh McKenna Pays Touching Tribute to Adam Schlesinger

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna paid a touching tribute to Adam Schlesinger on Twitter after the Emmy-winning songwriter and singer died Wednesday from coronavirus complications. Brosh McKenna took to the social media platform to fondly recall a moment from the writer’s room, “One day, when Adam, Rachel (Bloom) and Jack (Dolgen) were working, we [...]

  • Rick and Morty HBO Max

    Adult Swim Announces 'Rick and Morty' Season 4 Return Date

    Adult Swim has announced that the second half of Season 4 of “Rick and Morty” will premiere on May 3 at 11:30 p.m. The announcement was made today alongside a new trailer for the season’s remaining five episodes. Set to the upbeat chant of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” the footage offers [...]

  • Jason Kilar

    New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar on His Vision for the Future of Media

    By tapping Jason Kilar — the co-founder of Hulu and an Amazon veteran — to be its new CEO, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia is sending a signal that its future will be streamed. In a conversation with Variety just hours after the announcement, Kilar himself says as much. Kilar has known AT&T COO and current WarnerMedia CEO [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content