Velho Chico

Velho Chico (English title: Old River) is a Brazilian telenovela produced and broadcast by Rede Globo that premiered on 14 March 2016, replacing A Regra do Jogo and ended on 30 September 2016, being followed by A Lei do Amor.

Created by Benedito Ruy Barbosa and written by Benedito Ruy Barbosa, Edmara Barbosa, Bruno Luperi and Luis Alberto de Abreu. Creative direction by Luiz Fernando Carvalho. Directed by Carlos Araújo, Gustavo Fernandez, Antônio Karnewale, Philipe Barcinski and Luiz Fernando Carvalho.[6][7]

Initially conceived to be a 6 pm telenovela, set to premiere in August 2016, after Êta Mundo Bom!, it was released earlier as a 9 pm telenovela. With two distinct phases, the telenovela had a total of 172 episodes in its original run. Velho Chico faced unprecedented challenges its during production; with Umberto Magnani and Domingos Montagner dying. With Montagner's death, who was the lead actor, on 15 September 2016, two weeks before the finale, production became uncertain but was resumed.

The first phase features performances by Rodrigo Santoro, Carol Castro, Julia Dalavia, Renato Góes, Selma Egrei, Tarcísio Meira, Rodrigo Lombardi, Fabiula Nascimento, Chico Díaz and Cyria Coentro.

While the second phase features Antonio Fagundes, Christiane Torloni, Camila Pitanga, Domingos Montagner, Marcos Palmeira, Selma Egrei, Dira Paes, Irandhir Santos, Gabriel Leone, Giullia Buscacio and Lucy Alves. [8]

The telenovela attracted moderate viewership but still considered low. Velho Chico received a nomination from the International Emmy Award for Best Telenovela in 2017.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

In 2009, Benedito Ruy Barbosa gave the direction of Rede Globo the synopsis of on the São Francisco River; but in 2012, after evaluation by the network, the story was considered too political. Barbosa hoped to shoot it the following year in the 9pm time slot.[16] Eriberto Leão was considered in the starring role for the first phase but was replaced by Rodrigo Santoro.[17][18][19]

In 2015, the project was approved by Rede Globo and was set to premiere just after Êta Mundo Bom! at 6 pm timeslot.[20][21]

Rogério Gomes was later announced to direct but on request of the show's author and O Rei do Gado reprise's success, Luiz Fernando Carvalho was offered to direct.[22]

Initially, a telenovela by Maria Adelaide Amaral was supposed to replace A Regra do Jogo but due to its heavy political themes and it being an election year, Velho Chico was moved to the primetime timeslot and Amaral's show moved to late 2016.[23][24][25][26]

Although set in Bahia, part of the early scenes were recorded in other locations of the Brazil's Northeast, like Baraúna in Rio Grande do Norte, São José da Tapera and Olho d'Água do Casado in Alagoas. Other locations that represent the fictional town of the plot are the Alagoan other municipality: Piranhas. In the State where the telenovela, Ilha de Cajaíba, in São Francisco do Conde, the municipality of Cachoeira and Raso da Catarina were used as locations.[27] In total, about 562 scenes were recorded in northern locations and about 60 to 70% of the actors cast were from the region.[28][29][30] The set design was made from recycled objects, such as incandescent lamps used in old rebuilt reflectors.[31] The costume design in the first phase was composed of regal robes from residents in location.[32] Passing through tissue discoloration, dyeing and natural aging, the costumes of the bushmen are made in pastel colors, while those from Salvador are inspired by Tropicália.[33]

The director, Luiz Fernando Carvalho, opted for a Spanish actress to portray the character Iolanda. Due to great importance of the character to the storyline, Carol Castro and Christiane Torloni were cast nonetheless.[34][35][36] Before Castro was considered, Ana Paula Arósio was cast but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.[37][38] After Arósio, Maria Fernanda Cândido was then considered but she also turned down the role.[39] Letícia Sabatella was also considered to play Maria Tereza but due to her other commitments in films and theatre, Pitanga was cast.[40][41]

Veteran actor Umberto Magnani, who played Father Romão, suffered a stroke (CVA) while preparing to record the plot in the afternoon of 25 April 2016 at the Projac.[42] He was hospitalized at Hospital Vitória, near the studios' complex in Barra da Tijuca, in a deep coma. Ana Julia, daughter of Magnani, said that the actor underwent a six-hour surgery and had a cardiac arrest. As the character was considered important to the story, several scenes had to be rewritten.[43] At the time, without the possibility to return to the plot, Magnani was replaced by Carlos Vereza, who went on to interpret Father Benicio. Magnani eventually passed away two days later.[44][45]

With only two weeks to go before the final episode, on 15 September, the actor Domingos Montagner, who played the protagonist Santo, died after drowning in the São Francisco River, located in the Canindé, Region of São Francisco, in Sergipe. Montagner was swimming in São Francisco river together with Camila Pitanga, ended up being dragged by a strong current. The actor was found four hours later, lifeless.[46][47][48][49] While Montagner was missing, Globo's management requested that Velho Chico's recordings—set to run until 18 September, would be paralyzed. With the confirmation of the death of the actor, the technical team and the cast that were recording in the Northeast were asked to return to Rio de Janeiro.[50] The network also requested that the production of the plot not comment on the matter with the press.[50]

Benedito Ruy Barbosa lamented on the death of Montagner and said in an interview with UOL about the uncertainty about the outcome of the actor's character in the plot: "It is very difficult to have to change an actor like him for any other, it should not be the solution At the same time, I have to do justice to him and the wonderful work he has been doing."[51] Consulted by the blog of Patricia Kogut , the newspaper O Globo, Barbosa said he did not know what he would do, but that his aim was to honour Montagner.[52]

With the suspension of recordings, there were only five chapters ready to be displayed and on the same day (15 September), there was uncertainty whether the plot would remain in the air or whether the ending would be advanced.[53] However, episode 167 was aired without showing scenes with the character "Santo" - which were already shot before the death of the actor.[50] The next day, it was reported that the production would resume on 18 September, and that the telenovela would close on the scheduled date, 30 September.[54] UOL revealed that the character of Montagner would be carried to the end, without substitute.[55] the solution found was to shoot the scenes from the first-person perspective of Santo, without the character's lines. The cast returned to Sergipe on 17 September.[56] Another part of the cast remained in Alagoas, which maintained the timing of recordings set by Luís Fernando Carvalho.[57][58][59] The accelerated rhythm would be a consequence of the recording delays caused by the artistic director of the plot.[60]

Described by the director as a Shakespearian family saga, counting a history of love framed for social critics, the plot is initiated in the end of the year 1960, when Afrânio, son of a powerful Colonel Jacinto is obliged to return from Salvador for the fictitious Grotas de São Francisco, to assume the place of his father, who commanded the politics and the local economy. He develops a passion for Iolanda, but to oblige his mother, Encarnação, who still grieves the loss of her oldest son who died in waters of the São Francisco River, Afrânio leaves on a trip for the region to reaffirm alliances that his father kept. During his trip, Afrânio gets involved with Leonor, whose father compels them to marry. Leonor is received with disdain by Encarnação. In Encarnação's mind, Leonor's lower class status makes her an unsuitable wife for Encarnação's son. When Maria Tereza is born, Encarnação rubs on Leonor that she should have conceived a son. The rival family of the Ribeiro, due to Colonel Jacinto aspiring to their lands, is headed by Captain Ernesto Rosa. He is married to Eulália, but they have no children. They adopt Luzia, a baby abandoned on the road side on the way to their cotton plantation. At the same time, the couple receive the retirante, Belmiro and Piedade - parents of Bento and Santo. With the passing of time and growing-up together, Luzia starts to nourish a passion for Santo. This disrupts their feelings of brother and sister. It is in a procession of Francis of Assisi, under waters of the Old Chico, that the path of Santo and Maria Tereza are crossed. But the love affair between the son of the retirante with the daughter of the Colonel is discovered. Maria Tereza is sent to a boarding school in Salvador. In her letters to Santo, she discloses she is pregnant. This is not taken well by Luzia who is still in love with Santo. Some time later, Miguel is born, a fruit of a forbidden love. Soon after, Maria Tereza returns to the farm. She marries Carlos Eduardo even though she is not in love with him, but still dreams of reuniting with Santo.[61][62][63][64]

Rodrigo Santoro
Afrânio (young)

Antônio Fagundes

Camila Pitanga
Maria Tereza

Renato Góes
Santo (young)

Irandhir Santos

Carol Castro
Iolanda (young)

Christiane Torloni

Rodrigo Lombardi

Chico Diaz

Marcelo Serrado
Carlos Eduardo

Marcos Palmeira

Velho Chico Música Original de Tim Rescala was released on 10 June 2016. It contains instrumental soundtracks produced by Tim Rescala.[107][108]

The first chapter of the Velho Chico, according to consolidated data of São Paulo, registered 35.4 points with a maximum of 37, achieving the highest ratings for a premiere of the 9pm telenovela since Amor à Vida (2013).[110] In Rio de Janeiro, the premiere recorded 38 point average. The second chapter registered 33.9 points in São Paulo and 37 points in Rio de Janeiro, representing a reduction of one point in both regions.[113]

The last episode registered a viewership rating of 35.2 points in Greater São Paulo, one of the lowest indices in a 9pm telenovela coming after Babilônia.[111]

Generally, Velho Chico had a viewership rating of 29 points, surpassing both Babilônia and A Regra do Jogo with 25 and 28 points respectively.[112]


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