Kobe talks 'Muse,' memorabilia

Kobe Bryant (right) with documentarian Gotham Chopra.
Kobe Bryant (right) with documentarian Gotham Chopra.
Posted: July 22, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Kobe Bryant is thinking about his legacy.

Not to mention his marketing.

As the Lakers star - and Lower Merion High alum - approaches his 36th birthday next month, he's at work on "Kobe Bryant's Muse," a documentary that will air on Showtime this fall.

Bryant, who arrived late for his session Friday at the Television Critics Association, joking, "I was out looking for a head coach," said the idea for a film "about who or what has inspired me" grew out of his lying in bed one night, thinking of, "What's going to be the next Nike campaign and what the story's going to be." (It was his wife, Vanessa, who supplied the word "muse," he said.)

Gotham Chopra, the filmmaker son of Deepak Chopra, subject of his documentary "Decoding Deepak," has been filming Bryant for nearly a year. Both are listed as executive producers, but when I asked Bryant about the credit, which suggests that this won't exactly be a warts-and-all treatment, he said, "I'm not even quite sure what producer even means. . . . I kind of turn it over to Gotham and let him shoot. And kind of the overall vision of the story is to be able to follow the journey of the [2013 Achilles tendon] injury, the inner struggle, the inspiration that comes from that."

He added that "if there are negative things, there are negative things. I mean, it won't be the first time something negative has come out about me. It won't be the last. And I'm comfortable with that."

Afterward, as publicists tried to hurry Bryant offstage, I asked him about another aspect of his legacy, his 2013 dispute with his mother, Pamela, who'd auctioned off some of her son's sports memorabilia. (Both his parents eventually apologized publicly to him.)

"That's a long story that really feeds into what happens with an athlete's growth and what happens to the people around him and how an athlete then manages that," he told me.

"I've learned a lot from this situation," he said. "It's a very, very, very tough situation for all of us and it's more complicated than it seems."

So, it wasn't just a case of a grown son not cleaning out his closet and his mom getting rid of his stuff?

"Unfortunately, no," Bryant said, as he was finally pulled away from reporters.

Final 'Breaking' news

For the second year in a row, AMC's "Breaking Bad" is the Television Critics Association's program of the year.

In a Saturday night ceremony at the Beverly Hilton hosted by "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Terry Crews (who serenaded the critics with Miss Piggy), "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan and star Bryan Cranston took a final bow, with Cranston noting that this would have to be the last of the show's many appearances at the TCA awards unless the group added a category for "newly departed show."

Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black" was named best new program and HBO's "True Detective" was honored for movies, miniseries and specials (because unlike the Emmys, the critics, not the entrants, choose categories).

"True Detective" star Matthew McConaughey also picked up an award for individual achievement in drama, noting that the category was "non-gender specific" and that fellow nominees included Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") and Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black"), as well as Matthew Rhys ("The Americans") and Cranston.

FX's "Louie" and HBO's "Veep" tied for outstanding comedy, with "Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus also singled out for individual achievement in comedy.

Other winners include CBS' "The Good Wife" for outstanding drama; ABC Family's "The Fosters" for youth programming; Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race" for reality programming; and Fox's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," for news and information.

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" received TCA's Heritage Award, which was accepted by the show's head writer and "Weekend Update" co-host, Colin Jost.

Producer, writer and director James Burrows received a career achievement award, noting that critics helped keep "Cheers" alive long enough to find an audience.

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