Even before he sets foot on the court in an NBA game this season, LeBron James has had quite a year. Continuing a steady stream of film and TV projects through his SpringHill Entertainment and longtime manager Maverick Carter, the basketball megastar has amassed an impressive list of development partnerships across the media landscape.
On the TV side alone, James has struck series deals with every broadcast network, many prestige cable outlets, and a streaming service to boot. Aside from the biggest title on his film docket, the long-awaited “Space Jam 2,” James has lent his stamp to a number of features that exist outside the basketball world.
And these aren’t solely ideas for the future, working their way toward a possible pickup. Since last fall, he’s helped produce all of the following films and programs:
- high school football documentary “86 Blocks” for Fox Sports
- civil rights documentary “Rise Up” for History
- YouTube Premium docuseries “Best Shot“
- “Warriors of Liberty City,” a docuseries on Starz about youth football
- HBO barbershop conversation-style talk show “The Shop“
Add to that a role in “Smallfoot,” where he voiced a character not named Meechee, and you’ve got an already-impressive starting point for the last 12 months. But that’s just the beginning of an already growing batch. Not all of these will ultimately make it to air and will instead go the way of once-announced LeBrojects like an NBC show based on the life of prolific sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Still, here’s an overview of what audiences might see James’ name on in the coming months.
“Shut Up and Dribble”
Documentary Series – premieres November 3 on Showtime
Astutely borrowing its title from a particular piece of unsolicited advice, this three-part doc series looks at the growing action being taken by athletes (namely NBA players) in the arena of social justice.
“I Just Do”
Multi-cam sitcom – FOX
Written and starring stand-up comic Chris Spencer based on his own life, the logline explains, “An African-American family therapist (Spencer) and his loving and expressive Latina wife, who are living beyond their means in an upper-middle class neighborhood, raise twin teenagers with the “help” of their intrusive parents. The co-mingling of Black and Latino cultures gives a unique perspective on the universal challenges of marriage and family.” Former “According to Jim” executive producers John Beck and Ron Hart are also part of the project as co-writers.
“Space Jam 2”
Feature film – Warner Bros.
Fulfilling an idea that some fans of the original have had for over a decade, James will step into the shoes of Michael Jordan and play opposite Looney Tunes favorites in this sequel to the beloved ’90s classic. Terence Nance is set to direct the film, with Ryan Coogler producing.
Feature film – New Line
Not to be pre-empted in the great ’90s Reboot Race, James has also put his stamp of approval on this remake of the Kid ‘n Play series. The script is being worked on by “Atlanta” staffers Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori.
Untitled Paramount Players Comedy
Aside from the fact that James is being eyed to star, the only other major detail about this as-yet-untitled project is that the script comes from “The Boss” co-writer Steve Mallory.
I Promise School documentary series
Weeks after the planned film was announced last November, Warrior Poets co-founder Morgan Spurlock made confessional remarks online that led to his departure from the production company. James’ “I Promise” school did open this past summer, but if this planned six-part series goes forward, it will almost certainly be without Spurlock’s involvement.
Feature film – Legendary
In what sounds like a basketball twist on “The Scout,” a down-on-his-luck talent guy finds a talented streetball player in China and brings him back to Los Angeles for potential NBA stardom. Prolific music video director Dave Meyers is on board to direct a script from writer Taylor Materne. James would serve as a producer on the film.
TV drama – NBC
Not to be confused with the planned Jake Johnson animated Netflix show of the same title, this series would chart the journey of a former WNBA player who becomes a men’s college basketball head coach. As she handles the aftermath of a broken marriage and a doubtful school administration, she looks to take a PR spin hire and turn it into a potential collegiate dynasty. Elizabeth Banks would join James as an executive producer on the show.
Half-hour comedy – NBC
“Fresh Off the Boat” alum Kourtney Kang is set to produce this series, along with James, based on the life of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons.
Feature film – New Line
Co-produced by Channing Tatum, this film is described as “a subversive action-comedy that looks at the speed of media in our current landscape.” Writer Lucas Carter was an EP on “Playing Dead,” a pilot The CW passed on earlier this year.
“Lean on Me”
TV drama – The CW
Slightly flipping the premise of the 1989 film of the same name, writer Wendy Calhoun’s series would feature a teacher-turned-principal who looks to transform the academic culture at an Akron school. This TV adaptation would center its story around a character named Amarie Baldwin, rather than the biopic version of Joe Clark played by Morgan Freeman in the John G. Avildsen film. John Legend is set to be an executive producer on the series alongside James.
“What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali”
Documentary – HBO
The Greatest, like you’ve never seen him before.
From @KingJames and @mavcarter’s @SpringHillEnt and director Antoine Fuqua, HBO Sports presents: What's My Name | Muhammad Ali. Coming in 2019. pic.twitter.com/OODplclxww
— HBO (@HBO) September 15, 2018
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, this two-part retrospective will set out to offer a closer focus on the life and career of the Greatest of All Time. It is currently set for a 2019 release date.
Madam C.J. Walker project
Limited series – Netflix
Confirmed over the summer as the latest TV drama starring Oscar-caliber talent, this biographical project will feature Octavia Spencer as the legendary entrepreneur who became America’s first black female millionaire. The eight-part series will draw from journalist (and Walker descendent) A’Lelia Bundles’ 2001 book “On Her Own Ground.”
“Million Dollar Mile”
Reality competition – CBS
Eyeing a 2019 premiere, this would be the latest addition to the “extreme obstacle course” TV genre. Racers would have to brave a sprawling series of physical challenges, set over entire city blocks. Their reward: the $1,000,000 prize of the title.
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