LeBron James: 10 Projects on His Growing Hollywood Slate

5:00 AM 9/20/2018

by Marisa Guthrie

From 'Shut Up and Dribble' to 'Madam C.J. Walker,' a rundown of James and Maverick Carter's SpringHill roster.

LeBron James attends the 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year - Getty-H 2018
Gary Gershoff/WireImage

LeBron James’ migration to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers — with a four-year, $154 million deal — puts him in the same city where his media businesses are based: production shingle SpringHill Entertainment and digital platform Uninterrupted. Since the Lakers announcement on July 2, SpringHill in particular has announced a slew of projects. But James and business partner Maverick Carter have been building a portfolio since early 2015, when they hammered out an overall deal with Warner Bros. (Warner-owned Turner Sports in mid-2015 put $15.8 million into Uninterrupted, the Bleacher Report vertical which was previously self-financed by James.) So the popular narrative that James signed with the Lakers because of his aspirations as a Hollywood producer rankles James.

“That’s the only thing that’s bothered me,” he tells THR. “This has all been in the works.”

The eight-person SpringHill staff first moved into offices on the Warner Bros. lot in 2016. At the time they were sharing the space with employees of Uninterrupted. Now the Uninterrupted staff of 30 works out of a sleek open-floor-plan space in the Viacom building on North Gower in Hollywood. It’s a 10-minute commute from the Staples Center; making it very convenient for visiting athletes and James.

Adds Carter: “Him moving to L.A. doesn’t significantly change SpringHill or Uninterrupted in any way. I mean, I guess people who don't understand the industry could think it works that way; like one day you flip a switch and get six or seven shows up and running and into production. But wherever he went to play, we were going to continue to build [the business].”

Below is a rundown of James and Carter’s SpringHill roster.

  • The Shop

    James and Carter first produced the barbershop-set series for Uninterrupted in 2016. ESPN aired the first episode, taped at that year’s All-Star Game in Toronto, as a one-off. But last summer HBO commissioned a handful of additional episodes; the first one, with Snoop Dogg, Jon Stewart, Odell Beckham Jr., Draymond Green and Candace Parker, aired in August. It’s among the few projects — with the exception of Space Jam — that features James on camera. The next installment featuring James, Drake and others, is set to bow this fall.

  • Warriors of Liberty City

    The six-part documentary follows the players and their families at the legendary Miami youth football program run by pioneering rap promoter Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell that has produced a string of NFL players. SpringHill president Jamal Henderson notes that he’d like to do a follow-up of sorts if Campbell runs for Congress.

  • Student Athlete

    The feature-length doc directed by Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, and bowing Oct. 2, examines the predicament of unpaid athletes in the high-revenue college sports business. It’s a topic that James — who went from high school to the NBA prior to the one-and-done rule — may soon have a personal connection to if his eldest son, LeBron Jr., now 13, plays college ball.

  • Shut Up & Dribble

    The title for the three-part documentary from director Gotham Chopra was inspired by Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s racially charged admonition to James and Golden State star Kevin Durant for criticizing President Trump’s divisive rhetoric. Jamele Hill — a former ESPN host and sportswriter who has also tangled with Trump on social media — was among those interviewed. But she has since been enlisted as a narrator. “Once you’re in that club, it’s something that binds you,” says Hill.

  • What's My Name: Muhammad Ali

    Bowing in 2019, the two-part doc directed by Training Day and Equalizer helmer Antoine Fuqua, examines Ali’s activism and athleticism. James first met Fuqua two years ago at a dinner at HBO chairman Richard Plepler’s Connecticut home.

  • Madam C.J. Walker

    The eight-episode limited series stars Octavia Spencer in the titular role as a daughter of slaves who overcame deep turn-of-the-century racial injustice to become a hair-care mogul and America’s first black female millionaire. Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) has signed on to direct the first episode.

  • Top Boy

    The 10-episode reboot of the British crime drama — currently in production and set to bow in 2019 — has Ashley Walters reprising his role as the antihero of an East London housing estate; James pal Drake is among the executive producers. Carter notes that they have been working on the project for two years.

  • Lean on Me

    A female-led drama inspired by the Morgan Freeman film and penned by Wendy Calhoun (Station 19). John Legend is an executive producer.

  • Hoops

    The female-driven drama written by Jennifer Cecil (Notorious, Heartbeat) follows a former WNBA star who becomes the head coach of a men’s college basketball team. It’s co-produced by Elizabeth Banks’ production company, Brownstone.

  • Brotherly Love

    The comedy is culled from the life of Philadelphia 76ers point guard and 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons. James' agent and good friend Rich Paul — who also hails from Northeast Ohio and runs Klutch Sports Group — represents Simmons.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.