LeBron James, NBA

LeBron takes his media talents to HBO with talk show ‘The Shop’

The NBA’s best player is mainstreaming his media interests, turning his online The Shop series into an HBO enterprise.

LeBron James has been a Laker for less than a month and he’s already taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded to him in the Los Angeles media market.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter are adapting The King’s The Shop web series, where he talks to fellow famous folks in barbershops over wine and haircuts, for HBO. The first episode was apparently shot last week at West Hollywood’s Barber Surgeon’s Guild, and will premiere on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 11 p.m.

That inaugural episode will feature conversations with a random array of athletes and celebrities, including rapper Snoop Dogg, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker, comedian Jon Stewart, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

“When I was a kid, being in barbershops meant listening to adults talk about sports, clothing, politics, music, everything happened in the shop,” James told The Hollywood Reporters’ Marisa Guthrie. “It was so real and so candid; no one had a sense of, well I can’t be myself here. That’s how The Shop became an idea.”

This sounds like it will be a more formal version of James’ web series that he produced through his Uninterrupted media company. He actually already interviewed Green in 2017 on that version of The Shop.

The Shop was James’ latest attempt to control his image. He seems to have recognized that how sports media shapes his actual on-the-court legacy is out of his control, but is still trying to do what he can to mold his reputation as a public figure.

It’s also worth noting that this is exactly the sort of thing everyone assumed James would get involved with upon making Los Angeles his permanent home. There are only so many avenues for even someone as well-connected as James to craft his celebrity in Cleveland.

HBO has a rocky history with sports-adjacent productions. For every success story like Real Time with Bryant Gumbel, there is an unequivocal failure like Bill Simmons’ Any Given Wednesday talk show. Hopefully for James’ sake, The Shop takes the path of the former and not the latter.

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