SBJ/June 10-16, 2013/Media

Mandalay developing TV show based on life of Times writer

Mandalay Sports Media is developing a TV comedy loosely based on the life of acerbic Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, one of several projects the 15-month-old sports production company has in the pipeline.

Formed last March by Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and Hollywood producer/director Mike Tollin, Mandalay plans to pitch the Simers show to broadcast networks in the coming months.

T.J. Simers joined the Lakers’ Dwight Howard in a video that went viral.
“The series is about an old-school reporter in a medium that is quickly evaporating and a daughter who is a participant in the new media,” Tollin said. “Ultimately, it will be a comedy focused on their relationship and the relationship they never had because he was always on the road and was kind of an absentee dad. He’s kind of trying to make up for lost time. She’s trying to teach the old dog new tricks.”

Mandalay has not made casting decisions for the show yet — neither Simers nor his daughter will star in it.

But Simers and his daughter played a starring role in a viral video Mandalay produced last month with Lakers All-Star center Dwight Howard. The video, of Simers’ daughter beating Howard in a free throw shooting contest, was picked up by some of the most popular sports and entertainment websites, garnering more than 250,000 views.

Tollin credited Mandalay Sports Media CEO Rich Battista and executive vice president Jon Weinbach for pushing the video out to such sites as AOL, Yahoo, TVGuide.com and OMG.com

Carrying no advertising or sponsorships, the three-minute video did not make money for Mandalay Sports Media. But Tollin believes it helped create buzz, not only around the show but also around Mandalay’s YouTube channel, which it launched last month.

“You’ll never know if the viral video will help the series get off the ground. But we know that it won’t hurt,” Tollin said.

Since the launch of Mandalay Sports Media last March, it has been attached to several TV and broadband projects. It recently sold a pilot for a 30-minute comedy series based on Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade’s book, “A Father First,” to an unnamed broadcast network. It sold a series of digital shorts to AOL called “My Ink,” which is about athletes and their tattoos.

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