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Pelé, perhaps the world’s greatest soccer star, is getting the scripted television treatment.
Keeping Up With the Kardashians producers Bunim/Murray Productions are teaming with Pelé and his manager Paul Kemsley to develop a limited series based on the icon’s life, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The potential series will delve into Pelé’s (born Edson Arantes do Nascimento) life in New York in the mid-1970s while he was playing for the New York Cosmos alongside other international players. A network is not yet attached. The untitled project will be shopped to broadcast, cable, premium and streaming services.
Pelé, Kemsley, BMP CEO Gil Goldschein and co-president of entertainment and development Jeff Jenkins will executive produce.
“When Gil and Jeff approached me with this idea, I very quickly said yes,” said Kemsley. “Bunim/Murray has an amazing track record for creating revolutionary TV shows, and it was clear to me that we share a passion for Pelé and soccer. I have no doubt they will capture the magic that was New York City in the late ‘70s and also honor the legacy of one of the greatest athletes this planet has ever known. Pele, Sport 10 and I couldn’t be happier with this new partnership.”
Pelé started playing for Santos FC Santos at 15 and the Brazil national team at 16. He won three FIFA World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He is the record goal scorer for Brazil (with 77 in 91 games). Since retiring in 1977, Pelé has been a global ambassador for soccer and was named the honorary president of the New York Cosmos in 2010. The former forward is considered the greatest soccer player in history with a record 1,281 goals in 1,363 games and has been dubbed World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and more.
“Growing up playing soccer competitively and now coaching my kids’ teams, I have always admired Pelé and aspired to share his story and approached Kemsley about doing this series. As soccer continues to gain legions of fans around the world, now is the right time to delve into and dramatize his story,” Goldschein said. “Pelé’s talent, humility and charisma make him an outstanding role model, and we anticipate that this series will have mass global appeal.”
The Pelé series comes as sports has become a hot subject on the scripted front. Fox teamed with MLB on Pitch; Starz has basketball entry Survivor’s Remorse; HBO has football comedy Ballers; and Audience Network has MMA drama Kingdom. The development bench includes LeBron James’ NBC sports-medicine drama; NFL defensive end Calais Campbell’s semi-autobiographical CBS family comedy; Simon Cowell, Ian Brennan and Diablo Cody’s Fox synchronized swimming comedy; and Michael Strahan’s ABC drama about a Heisman Trophy winner turned cop. Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan’s first project under his new Skydance production deal is the hoops drama Apollo Park.
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