Five months after Miami Heat forward LeBron James and longtime friend/business partner Maverick Carter inked a deal to develop a half-hour sitcom based loosely on their friendship and rise to power, cable network Starz has reportedly placed an order for six episodes of the show, titled "Survivor's Remorse," with designs on bringing the first season to cable audiences this fall.
Executive produced by James, Carter, Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner, sitcom veteran Mike O'Malley and Los Angeles-based financial advisor Wachter, "Survivor's Remorse" will tell the story of a young basketball phenom named Cam Calloway and his cousin, businessman Reggie Vaughn, who make it out of a tough neighborhood to achieve fame and fortune. Along the road to success, they find themselves struggling with the trappings of money, stardom and romance, navigating not only strained family bonds, but also the tricky relationship between feeling happy to have "made it" and feeling separated from the place and circumstances from which they came.
The project, written by O’Malley, had been on fast-track development and considered a front-runner for the Q4 slot that became open in December when Starz pulled out of its commitment to Sky Atlantic’s upcoming drama series Fortitude. "Survivor’s Remorse," which had assembled a small writers room and had started preliminary casting for the two leads in anticipation of a series pickup, will debut next fall. [...]
"Survivor's Remorse" is set in the world of professional basketball and explores the comedy and drama of what truly happens when you make it out. “Ever since I got cut from the freshman hoop team at Bishop Guertin High School in 1980, I’ve wanted to write about my love and hatred of basketball,” said O’Malley. “Starz has given us great freedom to explore an authentic world inspired by Maverick and LeBron.” [...]
“Mike has infused the world of 'Survivor’s Remorse' with humor and heart," Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. “Along with LeBron, Maverick, Tom and Paul, we feel we really have an all-star team to capture the complexity and comedy inherent to this series.”
The series will reportedly shoot in Atlanta. While Starz hasn't announced any casting details, we do know that one of the writers joining O'Malley on the show will be former Gawker West Coast editor Cord Jefferson.
As I wrote back in September, the combined sitcom experience of mega-successful producer Werner's ("The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," "A Different World," "Grace Under Fire," "3rd Rock from the Sun," "That '70s Show," "The Life and Times of Tim") and actor/writer O'Malley ("Yes, Dear," "Glee," "Shameless") offered put some industry heft behind James' star power, and the combination of the two have "Survivor's Remorse" hurtling toward a small-screen near you. The sitcom might seem like a break from Starz's drama-heavy approach to original programming, but the network has ventured into comedy before with projects like "Party Down," "Head Case" and "The Bronx Bunny Show," albeit with varying degrees of success and for varying lengths of time.
It will be interesting to see if O'Malley, Jefferson and the rest of the folks responsible for scripting the half-hour series will be able to translate the emotional weight implied by the title successfully enough to turn the LeBron-and-Maverick-inspired story into something with real depth, or whether the likeliest outcome is something more like a version of "Entourage" that trades Hollywood for the NBA. Given that "Entourage" was an eight-seasons-and-a-movie success for HBO, though, I'm sure all involved would gladly take that result, even if it might not be the most artistically compelling way to spend a half-hour; if Cam Calloway and Reggie Vaughn wind up carving out as big a place in pop culture as Vinnie and E did, LeBron's new project will have been a massive success, further aiding his long-ago-stated mission of developing into not merely an MVP and champion, but into a ubiquitous billionaire off-court presence.
I'm not sure which step along the path to global iconhood "becoming basketball's Mark Wahlberg" is, but we could find out soon enough. Now all we've got to do is get that Phil Jackson/Jeanie Buss/Kurt Rambis drama fast-tracked and our non-game basketball-related small-screen entertainment slate will be all set.
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