UPDATED: You know that LeBron James hourlong primetime sports special The Decision tonight all about where he’s going to play next season? Well, it was not put together by LeBron James’ sports agency CAA. According to my Hollywood agency sources, Ari Emanuel of arch-rival tenpercentery WME was at one of the NBA playoff finals. Surely you’ve seen him at Laker games sitting in his look-at-me floor seats so courtside he gets drowned by the players’ sweat rivulets.
He began talking with LeBron’s manager Maverick Carter. (WME arranged the financing for LeBron’s documentary More Than A Game and with Carter sold it to Lionsgate.) Then sports announcer Jim Gray came over and suggested that LeBron do a TV show about the decision. (ESPN is now saying its execs were talking to LeBron’s manager about a decision-style show as far back as February during All-Star Weekend.) Emanuel immediately suggested that, instead of offering the show to a broadcast or cable network first, they package it by producing and selling ads for it themselves. The conversation ended on that note.
Carter talked to LeBron, and then Emanuel got a call from the manager telling him, ”Let’s go do this.” LeBron himself makes no money. Instead, all the sponsor dollars are being donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America. I’m told the figure raised for the charity was $3 million, and Nike pledged to match up to another $1 million.
“Richard Lovett keeps touting how he supposedly reps LeBron James. But he did nothing on this deal. He doesn’t even know where the TV dial is,” Emanuel was boasting all today around WME. (Ari also was pitching his hometown of Chicago to LeBron, who chose Miami as expected.) Today I asked CAA why it didn’t produce the show for its client, and the agency responded, “We don’t represent LeBron for marketing. We represent his sports contracts.”