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Volume 25 No. 27

People and Pop Culture

Parker is just one of many current and former NBAers with scripted projects in development
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

LEBRON JAMES, KEVIN DURANT and KOBE BRYANT are among a growing number of basketball players that "hope to build substantial entertainment companies that tap into the billions of dollars that Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are pouring into original programming," according to Brooks Barnes of the N.Y. TIMES. TONY PARKER, BLAKE GRIFFIN and STEVE NASH also "have scripted projects in production or development." So far, the "most serious" player to dive into entertainment has been James, whose SpringHill Entertainment production firm has "financial backing from Warner Bros." SpringHill co-Founder & CEO MAVERICK CARTER said, "As the number of platforms and distribution channels grows ... there is a big need for unique content and quality storytelling that can cut through the noise." Barnes notes while James is "not sitting in many production meetings" since he is still playing, Bryant is "taking the opposite approach to building his Granity Studios." Granity CMO MOLLY CARTER said, "He’s working on a bunch of novels -- fiction, but rooted in sport -- and will be building shows and films from there, original from his own head." In the near term, Bryant "has a basketball-analysis show, 'Detail,' headed to ESPN." Durant said, "LeBron has done such a great job so far. It's like, wow, this can actually be done." Durant in April launched a YouTube Channel "dedicated to his off-court life." Durant's media company, Thirty Five Media, "aims to increase revenue on the channel with a twist on the endorsement deal." Durant's manager and Thirty Five Media Partner RICH KLEIMAN said, “You may not get Kevin Durant the spokesman -- he can only personally represent so many brands authentically -- but you can get branded content" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16). 

SEAL THE DEAL: VARIETY's Justin Kroll noted following a "heated bidding war, Legendary Entertainment has landed the spec 'Hustle,'" with Springhill Entertainment and Roth/Kirschenbaum Films producing. The script had bids from "four studios before Legendary ultimately won out with a high six-figure sale." The project "follows a washed-up basketball scout who discovers a Chinese streetball phenom and sees him as his ticket back to the NBA." Following this sale and the news that James will be "producing a 'House Party' reboot at New Line, James will officially become a member of the Producer’s Guild" (VARIETY.com, 2/14).

Former Lions coach JIM CALDWELL has listed his Franklin, Mich., mansion for $2.5M. The 11,700-square-foot home, built in '12, features "six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, a basketball court ... and an impressive bar area, the backsplash currently lined with a number of footballs." The home also has a "chef's kitchen, his and hers offices, a four-car heated garage" and an outdoor patio (DETROITNEWS.com, 2/14)....Titans coach MIKE VRABEL has listed his Bellaire, Texas, home for $1.99M. The nearly 6,000-square-foot home "sits on a 9,100-square-foot lot." It has "four bedrooms, along with four full- and two half-bathrooms." On the first floor, there is a "grand hall entry, wine room, mudroom, great room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen and a library that has a secret room." The second floor has a "game room and a media room" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/13).

HOOP DREAMS: Lakers G LONZO BALL has bought a condominium at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live -- the "luxury high-rise that sits adjacent" to Staples Center -- for $1.625M. The unit features "two bedrooms, three bathrooms and nearly 1,700 square feet of living space" (LATIMES.com, 2/15)....Warriors G STEPHEN CURRY has listed his home in Waxhaw, N.C., for $1.55M. The 7,650-square-foot, two-story brick home has "four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and three half bathrooms in addition to a home theater, wine cellar, 'man cave' and exercise room" and sits on a "half-acre lot" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/12)....Kings G IMAN SHUMPERT has bought a house in River Forest, Ill., for $880,000. Shumpert bought the "five-bedroom, 4,486-square-foot French Normandy-style house" for his parents. The three-story home, built in '41, has "5½ baths, four fireplaces, a turreted entrance, custom blinds, a lower level rec room" and a "second floor with an office" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/12)....Former NBAer STEVE BLAKE has listed his home in Portland, Ore., for $1.699M. That price is "about $85,000 more" than what Blake paid for the home in '07. The three-story home has "nearly 6,000 square feet of living space." A finished basement "lies on the lower level and holds a guest suite with a separate kitchen." In all, there are "five bedrooms and six bathrooms" (LATIMES.com, 2/15).

BUYERS & SELLERS: Bears QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY has bought a home in Gurnee, Ill., for $950,000. The "six-bedroom, 5,577-square-foot traditional-style brick and cedar house" was once owned by former NFLer MUHSIN MUHAMMAD. The home, built in '05, has "6½ baths, two fireplaces, a grand foyer, a two-story family room with a wall of windows, a first-floor den, a second floor with three en suite bedrooms, and a finished walk-out basement that includes a rec room with a wet bar and stone fireplace as well as an exercise room" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/13)....Canucks C BO HORVAT has listed his home in the Yaletown neighborhood of Vancouver for $1.898M. The "two-bedroom, three-bath" townhouse has 1,354 square feet of space (THEPROVINCE.com, 2/11).

Czarniak has enjoyed her return to racing this week, especially in connecting with drivers and their crew
Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Veteran sports reporter LINDSAY CZARNIAK has returned to her racing roots for a unique opportunity around this weekend's season-opening NASCAR races at Daytona Int'l Speedway. Czarniak, an admitted racing buff who years ago worked as a pit reporter and studio host for TNT’s NASCAR coverage, will work with Joe Gibbs Racing's social and digital team to produce content for the team’s Facebook and Instagram feeds leading up to Sunday’s Daytona 500. Czarniak: "It’s been a tremendous opportunity to get this access with the drivers and race teams where we can dig deep into what makes them tick. It’s about getting to know them as people." Czarniak, who has been on the ground in Daytona since Thursday morning, spoke to THE DAILY on how the opportunity came about and what she hopes the project can bring to racing fans over one of their biggest weekends of the year.

HOW IT ALL CAME TOGETHER: This was pretty unexpected. I was down in Charlotte a few weeks ago at Joe Gibbs Race Shop. I was in town to prepare for Super Bowl coverage for the NBC station in DC. We were doing an interview with Joe Gibbs himself because he was the last coach to win a Super Bowl in Minnesota. I have a long, long history with him because of my days working back in Washington when he was coaching the Redskins. So I’m there having a conversation with one of my friends at the shop, who also happens to be in charge for PR for Gibbs’ racing team. We were talking about my interests, some of the things I’m focusing on right now, and then they mentioned they had some roles they were considering for Daytona weekend. A few days later I get a call when I’m back home in Connecticut and they say, "Listen, know we talked about this … you’re a free agent, we’re in a situation where we would love to try it and see what you think."

ALL ABOARD: Needless to say I was pumped. This is exactly the kind of content that I love. Having the chance to interview and get to know the people that are part of the sport that I cover. That’s always been one of the top things I’ve enjoyed about my job. Frankly, I was just as pumped talking to Joe Gibbs about football as I was to take a peak at what was going on in their race shop. Being around the people in this sport, the nature of it, it’s really special. It was the perfect timing to try to do something new. If we can do it the right way, it could become something that’s really beneficial for fans and maybe even cutting edge.

DRIVING FORCE: Friday night and Saturday I’ll be going to drivers and motor coaches, getting to know their stories. We’re also doing a podcast with three different drivers from Gibbs' team in the Xfinity Series. It’s a different type of media venture and we’re editing the interviews we’ve done to put on a couple different social platforms. We’ve also already done some Facebook Live showing what’s going on here at the track. It’s aiming to be an all-access feed on drivers when they’re free and then also being ready for anything unexpected. It’s really to give fans a live look at what’s happening on the inside here.

IN THE MEANTIME: My kids take up the majority of my free time because they’re just balls of energy themselves, but my husband and I do love to go to concerts when we can. I love to travel, especially to somewhere warm -- which makes Daytona right now pretty amazing. Bora Bora was a phenomenal recent trip and I also made it out to the Grand Canyon last year as well. TV-wise, I really enjoyed the documentary “HISTORY OF THE EAGLES” (on the rock band, not the NFL team) and I’m hooked on “GAME OF THRONES,” though I’m not fully caught up. My airplane material is “BALLERS” with DWAYNE JOHNSON.

The Brewers named ANC Sports Enterprises Exec VP/Finance & COO DANIEL FUMAI CFO, effective Feb. 19. Fumai will handle all financial operations for the MLB club, as well as its Single-A Carolina League Carolina Mudcats affiliate and its Performance Clean janitorial services business (Brewers)....Big Ten Network promoted VP/Business Operations & HR KIM BEAUVAIS to Senior VP/Business Operations & HR. Beauvais was an SBJ/SBD "Forty Under 40" honoree in '16 (THE DAILY)....The Univ. of Louisville BOT voted to "terminate" Associate AD/HR KIMBERLY MAFFET -- "one of three athletics department employees fired this month." Maffet also was UL Special Assistant to the President & Provost and was "considered an at-will employee." Her termination is "effective immediately" (COURIER-JOURNAL.com, 2/15)....The Univ. of Pennsylvania named soccer coach RUDY FULLER Senior Associate AD/Intercollegiate Programs (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 2/16).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

 

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Ready to make your next great hire? Or take the next step in your career? Connect with the industry’s top employers and job seekers on the Sports Business Career Link. For more information, contact Megi Beqiraj at 212-500-0705, or mbeqiraj@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

 

Stern is one of the largest backers in the N.Y.-based startup LiveLike
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

N.Y.-based tech startup LiveLike, which has “developed a VR platform for live TV sporting events," has raised $9.6M in a Series B round that “includes new investors Greycroft Partners and Lepe Partners.” The company has raised about $15M so far “thanks to backing from other investors,” such as NBA Commissioner Emeritus DAVID STERN, Evolution Media, Courtside Ventures, Elysian Park, Dentsu Ventures and the GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund. LiveLike “plans to use the fresh funds to help it expand its partnerships” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 2/15).

BACK ON TRACK: Furniture Row Racing Owner BARNEY VISSER, who a few weeks ago suffered a heart attack, on Thursday returned to a track “for the first time since last season." Visser said that he “feels as healthy as he has in years.” He “returned to the shop in Denver for the first time Wednesday” (AP, 2/15)....Cavaliers Owner DAN GILBERT tweeted that his son NICK is “recovering nicely” following eight hours of brain surgery this week. Gilbert tweeted, “Nick still has hurdles ahead but true hope is now alive. 1st question: “Did @cavs beat OKC?” (TWITTER.com, 2/15).

NAMES: The T’Wolves on Thursday “unveiled a ‘Flip’ banner at the top of the Target Center as the organization paid tribute” to late coach and President of Basketball Operations FLIP SAUNDERS. Several former NBAers were in attendance, and TNT’s KEVIN HARLAN, a longtime play-by-play voice for the team, “emceed the pregame tribute” (ESPN.com, 2/15)….Panthers TE GREG OLSEN, has “donated $100,000 toward” the Univ. of Miami's indoor practice facility. With Olsen’s gift, his alma mater has now raised $2M for the $34M facility from "more than 80 former Hurricane football players” (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 2/16)….The Bay Area Sports HOF announced its ’18 class, which will be “honored at the 39th annual enshrinement banquet” on May 21 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, includes former 49ers GM JOHN MCVAY (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/16).

IN MEMORY: Mavericks co-Founder DON CARTER died Wednesday night at age 84. His trademark white Stetson hat adorned the team’s logo, “making him synonymous with the team he co-founded and owned for 16 years.” With his declining health, Carter and wife LINDA were “rarely seen the past two seasons in their customary courtside seats” at American Airlines Center. They came to the Mavs' opener this season, but Carter was “unable to attend” former NBAer DEREK HARPER's Jan. 7 jersey retirement. Carter in ’96 “sold majority interest in the franchise to ROSS PEROT JR.” for $125M, but “kept a minority share” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/16).


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