Thursday, November 20, 2014

How the NBA's Biggest Stars Are Taking on TV

Jessie Usher, RonReaco Lee, Mike Epps
They've got game on the court — but what about on TV? Several current and past NBA stars are taking a shot at producing, often with shows that were inspired by their own lives.
Many of them have even formed production companies, with an eye toward making Hollywood more of a full-time gig once they're pooped on hoops. Recently returned Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is leading the charge, as one of the executive producers on the new Starz comedy Survivor's Remorse (along with his producing partner, Maverick Carter, and The Cosby Show's Tom Werner).
"When you have a guy like LeBron you don't expect him to go into the writers' room and write stuff or go on the floor and direct scenes," says Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. "What you really want him to do is be there for the authenticity, to use his social network platform and credibility to spread the word about the show. He does here what he does on the court: He puts together a team and then inspires them to do really good work." Here's a roundup of basketball stars' tube dreams.
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)Show: Survivor's RemorseStats: Airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz. It has already been renewed for Season 2.
Premise: The comedy follows a rookie basketball player (Jessie T. Usher) who moves his family to Atlanta after signing a multimillion-dollar contract.
Extra Shots: James' Springhill Production Co., which he runs with Maverick Carter, partnered with ESPN Films to produce the Disney XD special Becoming, which aired Oct. 26. The show, which profiles athlete's journeys, could return as a series. On camera, James will play himself in next year's Judd Apatow film Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer.

Kenny Smith (retired)Show: The SmithsStats: Premieres Spring 2015 on TBS.
Premise: The reality show centers on Smith (now an NBA analyst for Turner Sports) and his wife, Price is Right model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, along with their Brady Bunch-style blended family of five kids.
Extra Shots: Smith is also developing a sitcom at TBS loosely based on his life, and is a NCAA March Madness studio analyst for TNT, TBS, truTV and CBS.
Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)Show: Untitled comedy
Stats: A script (written by Warren Lieberstein) is in development at ABC.
Premise: The multi-camera sitcom is based on the childhoods of Paul and his brother C.J., who both worked at their grandfather's gas station in North Carolina.
Extra Shots: Paul will executive produce the sitcom, his first TV project. The player has also been seen in commercials for State Farm. He and fellow Clipper Blake Griffin appeared in two hybrid sketch comedy/shoe commercials that aired on Adult Swim.
Baron Davis (free agent)Show: Untitled comedy
Stats: A script (written by Courtney Lilly) is in development at Fox.
Premise: Based on Davis' life, about a kid from South Central L.A. who lands a scholarship to a prestigious, expensive high school, and must balance both worlds.
Extra Shots: Davis has hosted the Esquire Network shows How I Rock It and Alternate Route. He also runs the production company Verso Entertainment with Cash Warren.
Yao Ming (retired)Show: Saving Africa's Giants with Yao MingStats: Aired November 18 on Animal Planet.
Premise: In this one-hour special (narrated by Edward Norton), Yao visited Africa to witness the continent's poaching epidemic, which kills thousands of elephants and rhinos each year. Yao hopes to spread the message that once ivory is no longer in demand, the killing will stop.
Extra Shots: Yao was the subject of the 2004 documentary The Year of the Yao and also was a voice in the 2009 Chinese animated film The Magic Aster.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)Show: Kobe Bryant's MuseStats: The Showtime special will air in February.
Premise: The documentary (directed by Gotham Chopra) chronicles Bryant as he bounces back from late-career injuries and ruminates on his life and career.
Extra Shots: Bryant's Mamba Media doesn't have other TV or film credits, but he has appeared as himself in countless TV shows and documentaries. Bryant also played "Terry Hightower" on a 1996 episode of Moesha, the year he was drafted as an NBA rookie.

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