Moreover, the project, which has long been in the works as a movie, is now being shopped as an authorized limited series instead.
The series, which will “span the life” of Tyson, has another heavy hitter behind the camera: Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) is on the executive producing team, marking Scorsese’s first return to the ring in a dramatic project since his iconic Oscar-winning film Raging Bull 41 years ago.
“I have been looking to tell my story for quite some time,” Tyson said in a statement. “With the recent launch of Legends Only League and the excitement from fans following my return to the ring, now feels like the perfect moment. I look forward to collaborating with Martin, Antoine, Jamie and the entire creative team to bring audiences a series that not only captures my professional and personal journey but also inspires and entertains.”
The project is expected to be shopped to various streaming outlets and networks and comes on the heels of Hulu announcing in February its own Tyson limited series, Iron Mike, from the team behind I, Tonya. Tyson previously slammed the Hulu project as “tone-deaf cultural misappropriation of my life story … to make this announcement during Black History Month only confirms Hulu’s concern for dollars over respect for Black story rights. Hollywood needs to be more sensitive to Black experiences especially after all that has transpired in 2020.”
The movie project went through several directors, including Scorsese himself and Todd Phillips, with Paramount Pictures previously attached.
Sources say Tyson’s camp received calls from major studios who wanted to work with him on an authorized story following Hulu’s announcement.
Finding a buyer for this new project might prove tricky, however. While there’s doubtless audience interest in a biopic of Tyson, who is arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time — especially with auspices like Foxx, Fuqua and Scorsese involved — given this is an authorized project, with Tyson collaborating with the creative team and on board as an executive producer, will almost certainly provoke public skepticism about its accuracy and its willingness to candidly tackle the more controversial aspects of the boxer’s life (namely, Tyson’s being being found guilty of raping an 18-year-old in 1992), as well as potential discomfort with the fact that Tyson will apparently profit from the enterprise.
Last year, Foxx showed his physical transformation to play the boxer, as well as his spot-on Tyson voice impression.
Other executive producers on the project include Rick Yorn, Ian Montone, Chuck Pacheco, James Barnett, Sophie Watts, John Ryan Jr. and Kiki Tyson.
Tyson staged a boxing comeback after his release and lost in a 1997 rematch against Evander Holyfield in which he was famously disqualified for biting off a piece of his opponent’s ear. He retired in 2006 but returned to the ring against Roy Jones Jr. last year.
On the entertainment side, Tyson played himself in 2009’s The Hangover and teamed with Spike Lee to bring his one-man show to Broadway. The production aired on HBO in 2013. He’s published a New York Times best-selling autobiography and tackled multiple animated series, including Adult Swim’s Mike Tyson Mysteries. He also produced the feature Champs, a boxing doc that examined the lives and careers of Tyson, Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins.