June 16, 2011
If a basketball player wants to be a global icon, he better have an idea for a movie. Michael Jordan did "Space Jam," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did "Airplane!" and John Salley did "Eddie." Without them, none of those players would enjoy the same kind of widespread fame they have today.
LeBron James(notes) would like to enter that group, so he's had a film called "Ballers" in development for several years now. The basic premise is that five bros attend a basketball fantasy camp and bring LeBron into all of their life issues. That's one decision even LeBron doesn't want to be a part of!
The Miami Heat forward has been attached to star in Universal/Imagine's sports comedy "Ballers" since September 2009, and after an initial yearlong delay to accommodate his summer 2010 free agency, production was pushed to next month. However, in the wake of Miami's NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, exec producer Michael Rosenberg told Variety that because the script is still being developed, "we are not shooting this summer." [...]
[Brian] Grazer previously told Variety that James impressed him in commercials and his 2007 hosting turn on "Saturday Night Live," and producers had been looking to surround James with an A-list comedic cast to ensure his feature debut would be successful. In April 2010, Universal announced that "Ballers" would hit theaters on Nov. 4, 2011, meaning it would go into production that summer.
That report means that "Ballers" will be delayed by at least two years, which seems like a lot but in Hollywood terms is fairly normal. (For comparison, the forthcoming "Moneyball" movie has gone through three directors and even more rewrites over many years of development.) The producers just want to make sure "Ballers" comes out at a time when the public is ready for it, and that won't be the case until LeBron is a more popular public figure.
Still, that moment may not come for several years, or maybe never if the Heat can't win a championship. In that event, Universal may be forced to cancel the project, or at least reimagine it in some other genre.
With that in mind, let me suggest the following: Five guys go to a basketball fantasy camp. Everything starts out fine, but after several hours they find that their counselors, all of whom have won NBA championships, are disappearing one by one. It turns out that a crazed ex-athlete (played by LeBron himself!) has escaped a mental institution and is killing everyone to find an elusive championship ring. Our heroes must band together and learn valuable life sessons as they defeat the evil killer known to his victims as "the Chosen One."
What do you say, Brian Grazer? I've had several meetings with Breckin Meyer. He's available.