They’ve got a working title for a new HBO Sports-driven documentary on the life and times of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, targeting a launch around the 2015 NBA All-Star game in New York.
How does “Kareem: A Minority Of One” sound?
“To me, that says a lot, because I know the impression of him is this lone wolf — but he’s really a gregarious, affable, social guy,” said Mike Tollin, the sports TV and movie exec who will serve as executive producer for the project through the Studio City-based Mandalay Sports Media.
Which is the company he co-founded with Peter Guber. Who is one of the Dodgers minority owners, and must be aware that Kareem, with his Brooklyn Dodgers cap, frequents the owners box at Dodgers Stadium hanging out with Magic Johnson.
It’s not that complicated, right?
Tollin said he understands that Abdul-Jabbar has had a less-then-affable relationship with the media during a basketball career that spans a three-time national college player of the year run at UCLA (1966-’69) and five NBA championships during his 14 years with the Lakers (1975-89).
Can this doc be part of his media rehabilitation process?
“I think I’m like a lot of people who have an impression of him based on nothing, and I can take a fresh look at this,” said Tollin, who had only briefly met Abdul-Jabbar prior to this project that has already began filming. “The challenge is always to tell the story that people think they know and then have a version which they had no idea about. The plan is to make this far-reaching and free-wheeling – jazz, literature, politics, yoga, martial arts, baseball. He’s in a pretty comfortable place in his life. I hope this will open a lot of eyes.”
Tollin’s resume includes an Oscar-winning documentary on Hank Aaron, as well as the former HBO series “Arli$$” and sports-related feature films “Coach Carter,” “Radio” and “Varsity Blues.”
HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a press release: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legendary figure and an American sports icon. While he has lived so much of his life in the media spotlight, his extraordinary story has never been explored in depth, and we are grateful to Kareem and his team for allowing us to bring this story to life.”
Part of Kareem’s “team” includes Deborah Morales, the Manhattan Beach-based rep for him who acts as the producer of the project through her Iconomy Multi-Media & Entertainment company. She was involved with him during the making of the 2011 documentary “On the Shoulders of Giants.”
Abdul-Jabbar, who has a writing and acting credit for “Shoulders,” has been recently outspoken about the Donald Sterling matter in a Time magazine opinion piece. The magazine has given him plenty of room to share his views recently.
Apparently HBO is also fine with Abdul-Jabbar despite his recent review of the network’s show “Girls.” Just all part of that complex media persona.