How Philly lost LeBron's show

Posted: July 15, 2014

* 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY. 9 tonight, Fox 29.

* BACKPACKERS. 8:30 tonight, CW57.

* SEED. 9:30 tonight, CW57.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Remember the brief excitement last fall over reports that LeBron James was producing a basketball-themed comedy about a player from North Philly?

It didn't last long. Next thing we knew, "Survivor's Remorse," the Starz network show that James is co-producing with business partner Maverick Carter, had shifted the main character's hometown to Boston and was filming in Atlanta.

And, no, it was nothing we said.

Blame executive producer Mike O'Malley, who was brought aboard by fellow producer Tom Werner ("Roseanne," "The Cosby Show"). Werner's also one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox.

"Mike's from Boston, so he won," Carter said Friday when I asked him about the change in venue, during a session at the Television Critics Association summer meetings.

"My mom and dad are from Boston," O'Malley added. "I grew up in New Hampshire, but what we really also wanted to make very clear was, this is not a show about LeBron James, though he's involved as a producer."

James isn't from Philly, either, of course, but the show "was originally set in Cleveland," O'Malley said. "There's plenty of drafts no one ever saw."

We also didn't see James in Beverly Hills on Friday, though he'd at one point been scheduled to appear via satellite, perhaps before he knew that that would be the day he'd be announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Asked by one reporter "what, exactly" James was doing instead, Carter replied, jokingly, "Well, up until today, he was unemployed. So he's probably . . . in the [human resources] office going through his paperwork for his new job. I don't know. Getting a physical."

"Survivor's Remorse" stars Jessie T. Usher as Cam Calloway, a young basketball player from a tough neighborhood who struggles to satisfy the demands of family and old friends after signing a multimillion-dollar NBA contract. The six-episode first season will premiere on Starz on Oct. 4.

Day's end for '24'

Jack's back tonight - for one final hour.

The argument that serialized dramas work better with shorter seasons got a boost this spring with the return of Fox's "24" as a 12-hour "event series."

No amnesiacs, no cougars, no running out of plotlines while the clock was still ticking. There were some big moments, even some surprising ones.

Maybe the biggest surprise was how writers chose to run the clock. But as "Live Another Day" wraps up tonight with an episode that makes up for the lost time, you might want to keep the tissues handy.

Not so much for Jack, whose status as a man of endless sorrow was baked into the "24" formula long ago, but for William Devane's President James Heller. Devane's had an extraordinary season and in a brief exchange with the British prime minister (Stephen Fry) in tonight's episode, he makes it memorable.

New on the CW

The CW premieres two new summer comedies tonight: "Backpackers," originally a Web series carried on the network's CW Seed outlet; and, confusingly, a show that's actually called "Seed," about a former sperm donor (Adam Korson) whose offspring start turning up in his life.

Of the two, I prefer "Backpackers," which at least takes viewers on a trip across Europe, as best friends Ryan (Noah Reid) and Brandon (Dillon Casey) embark on a journey triggered by Ryan's fiancee, who'd like one last hurrah herself before settling down.


Email: graye@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray

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