LeBron James is already the dominant performer in one arena, as he demonstrated again Sunday night, with a dazzling bounce-back performance in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. But he's repeatedly said his calling is "much bigger than basketball." And, of late, in addition to taking stronger stands on social issues, he's making his presence felt in more cultural corners of the country.
Movie-goers soon will be able to see him as a co-star with actor Kevin Hart in the upcoming feature film Ballers, as well as in a cameo role in the Judd Apatow project Trainwreck.
That isn't all. He is also one of the executive producers for the upcoming Starz network series Survivor's Remorse, the initial trailer for which has been provided to Bleacher Report.
In light of his challenging upbringing in Akron, Ohio, James had established himself as a survivor long before all of the adversity he's had to endure as a pro. James has said that experience has given him an understanding of the mixed feelings that come with reaching a level of success that has proved out of reach for others back home.
So does his childhood friend and business partner Maverick Carter, and their conversations about their internal conflicts became the roots of a concept. Carter then worked with Tom Werner (who produced The Cosby Show and Roseanne) to shape it into a show.
Business partner Paul Wachter helped shop the premise to contacts in the entertainment industry. Starz chief executive officer Chris Albrecht—who was the CEO of HBO when that network put out comedy hits Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm—quickly bought in.
While the show will be loosely based on James' and Carter's experiences, Carter made it clear that the characters themselves are fictionalized.
"Some of the stories are from our lives, some of the stories are from other players, people we've watched," Carter said. "And the main thing is we wanted to send a message that this guy who you see on screen has kind of made it out, and how does he deal with it? There are a million ways you can deal with it."
From leaving the past behind to trying to help everyone possible to taking just a close circle with you.
"And day in and day out it changes, because he's a human being," Carter said.
While the general tone will be light entertainment in the spirit of those successful HBO shows as well as James' breezy Samsung commercials, Carter said "there will also be some serious moments" that play out in the family and community dynamics.
"These are people, and people screw up," Carter said. "People say things they shouldn't say, and do things they shouldn't do, and it doesn't make them bad people. Just like in life. That's the only message. This is meant to entertain, to make you laugh, make you have fun, to make you see real characters going through what people do."
The show completed casting last month, and this week it begins shooting the fourth of six initial episodes.
James' role is ongoing. He reads scripts and offers ideas along with his wife, Savannah. And while he hasn't had time to visit the set in Atlanta, he plans to do so at some point after finishing his current series: the compelling drama featuring himself as the Heat's lead star against old rivals from San Antonio.
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