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LeBron James just got a whole lot closer to his other office.
After signing a four-year $154 million deal with the Lakers, the NBA’s biggest star will need to travel only 11 miles from his new basketball home at the Staples Center to his SpringHill offices on the Warner Bros. lot.
In fact, the four-time MVP should be able to multitask much better between chasing a fourth championship and his blossoming showbiz career, so much so that it prompted Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke to write, “People will ask, did he come to Los Angeles to win more rings or to get a head start on his movie production career?”
James’ producing partner Maverick Carter offers a definitive no regarding the latter.
“SpringHill will thrive regardless of where LeBron plays basketball,” Carter tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It was built while he played in Cleveland, and he’s totally focused on his day job. But yes, now that he has made his decision on where he wants to play, I’m thrilled that I now to get to work and live in the same city as my best friend and business partner.”
Still, the idea that one of the world’s most recognizable athletes will be taking pitch meetings on his off days is something the city of Los Angeles has never before seen. His longtime media adviser Adam Mendelsohn is based in Los Angeles as is his business and deal adviser Paul Wachter.
James’ first narrative feature film will be a House Party reboot at New Line. He and Carter, his childhood friend from Akron, Ohio, have set Atlanta‘s Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori to write the screenplay (when THR broke the story, James tweeted: “This is gonna be fun!! #MayEvenHaveToMakeACameo”).
House Party will precede a Space Jam reboot at Warners, a far more expensive endeavor but one that would feature James as the film’s live-action star — and has further stoked comparisons to Michael Jordan, the star of the original Space Jam. Warners is eager to move forward on the film and aims to tap the star forward’s international appeal, particularly in basketball-crazed China.
James and Carter already have been active on the small screen, executive producing the Starz sitcom Survivor’s Remorse, which recently wrapped after four seasons.The three-time NBA Finals MVP also is collaborating with music superstar Drake on Netflix’s upcoming crime drama Top Boy (the two also teamed on the Vince Carter doc The Carter Effect, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017).
SpringHill’s upcoming TV slate includes Warriors of Liberty City for Starz — about a Miami-based youth football league funded by Luther Campbell, aka Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew; a documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali for HBO; an HBO doc titled Student Athlete, which examines the fairness of high-revenue-producing college stars playing for no pay; a Gotham Chopra-helmed documentary about the history and cultural impact of the NBA, for Showtime; and a Netflix limited series about entrepreneur and activist Madam C.J. Walker, starring and executive produced by Octavia Spencer.
“What we look for are stories that really we relate to — they all come from a real-life place,” Carter told THR back in February. “There’s always a part of the story that LeBron and I relate to.”
He also is an exec producer of the NBC game show The Wall, though that series took a knock recently when host and fellow exec producer Chris Hardwick faced allegations of abuse. NBC is assessing the situation; the show was renewed in March and is scheduled to go back into production in September.
SpringHill also produces several digital series including BestShot, hosted by former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jay Williams for YouTubeRed, and the game show Do or Dare on Facebook. And it was a pioneer in the athlete-produced shortform content space with Turner’s Uninterrupted; the platform has received close to $16 million from investor Warners.
There’s little doubt that playing for the Lakers — a team synonymous with showbiz glamour thanks to the nightly parade of A-listers sitting courtside — will up James’ star quotient. Playing in Cleveland and Miami is not quite the same. Though Shaquille O’Neal retired in 2011, he has a higher Q score than James — a number presumably buoyed by his time winning championships with the Lakers.
James, who is repped by WME, also is serious about showing off his comedic skills onscreen (before he became a basketball star, he wanted to be an actor). He played a supporting role in the Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck and received positive reviews, despite eschewing acting lessons.
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