A few weeks ago, Jeanie Buss hinted during an appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast that a new documentary series about the time her family has owned the Lakers — in the vein of last year’s “The Last Dance” — was coming soon.
On Monday, the Lakers answered several questions about the nature of that project in a press release announcing that the nine-part docuseries was headed to the streaming platform Hulu. The bad news? Fans are going to have to wait until 2022 to watch it.
Here are some more details and quotes, courtesy of the aforementioned press release:
The project comes to Hulu from Lakers’ CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss, Emmy® Award-winning director Antoine Fuqua, in association with Fuqua Films, as well as Haven Entertainment and Los Angeles Media Fund.
The series details the past four decades of the Lakers, and contains colorful and emotional new interviews from over 35 people within the organization, including the Buss family, legendary coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, and NBA Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and team captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among numerous other current and former players. Also featured are interviews with a range of high-profile fans and a treasure trove of archival footage featuring never-before-seen interviews with the Lakers late owner, Jerry Buss.
Starting from his acquisition of the team in 1979, the docuseries captures Jerry Buss’ remarkable journey to build, sustain and pass on a family-run sports empire. The project will offer a fresh and revealing look inside the legendary “Showtime” era that saw the team win five NBA titles and turned the Forum into Hollywood’s hottest ticket throughout the 1980s. The series also details the high-stakes drama off the court and incredible successes of the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led championship teams, as well as the cultural impact of the Lakers franchise and rebirth of the team, culminating with the 2020 NBA championship led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. At the heart is a story about sports, business and, most of all, family – and how those competing forces must be harnessed to achieve greatness.
“When Dr. Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, he sat alone at center court of the Forum and thought of all the possibilities. But even in his wildest dreams, my father could not have imagined what the next decades would bring for our organization, our league and our city of Los Angeles. I am thrilled that the true story of the Lakers will finally be shared with the world — and that we are in such capable hands with Hulu and Antoine, a director whose storytelling I’ve admired for years,” said Lakers’ CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss.
“We are proud to bring this docuseries to the world and shed light on the legendary history of the Lakers,” said Fuqua. “This expansive look into one of the greatest sports franchises of all time is a project we all feel deeply passionate about.”
“The Los Angeles Lakers are one of sports’ most illustrious franchises. Theirs is a history of epic highs and tragic lows, and generations of legendary players and teams who have made a profound impact, not just on the sports world, but on the culture. We are honored to join Jeanie, Antoine and the whole creative team to bring Hulu viewers the very real inside look at the remarkable story of the rise and fall, and rise again of the Lakers,” said Belisa Balaban, VP, Original Documentaries, Hulu.
The Lakers and Hulu also announced that Jeanie Buss and Fuqua will serve as executive producers along with “Haven Entertainment’s Kevin Mann, Michael Mann and Brendan Bragg, Los Angeles Media Fund’s (LAMF) Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman and longtime Lakers senior executive Linda Rambis. Rounding out the team will be Emmy Award winners editor Jake Pushinsky and executive producer/writer Steven Leckart.” This is NOT the fictionalized series on the Showtime Lakers that is coming to HBO.
The thing that obviously stands out most from the announcement is that Jeanie Buss and Rambis will be executive producing, because that means that — at least to some degree — this project will be state media, meaning that if you’re looking for unbiased criticism of certain points in the team’s history, this is probably not going to include that. That said, “The Last Dance” featured Michael Freaking Jordan himself having final say, and that was still a really enjoyable few hours of television, so the self-produced nature of this series doesn’t necessarily preclude it from being a ton of fun, even if it will be a bit purple and gold tinted overall.
But hey: In the grand scheme of things, how much bad stuff has there really been to say about that last 40-plus years since Jerry Buss bought the team? Other than the Jim Buss era and the final year of the Magic Johnson executive era, not a whole lot, so it’s not like there is much dirty laundry to air anyway.
That press release covered a lot of the people you’ll see interviewed in this documentary, but yesterday on our podcast, Anthony Irwin and I went over some of the lesser-known figures in Lakers history we’d like to see get some screen time, from Adam Morrison, to Andrew Bynum, to Pete “The Film Room” Zayas, including this amazing moment:
On our latest podcast, @AnthonyIrwinLA and @hmfaigen went over who they most want to see get interviewed for this doc, and it led Anthony to tell an ALL-TIME story about confusing Bill Bertka for Paul Westphal, and Bill owning him in response:https://t.co/mr32KXnpCf pic.twitter.com/W9Ced7PV6A— Silver Screen and Roll (@LakersSBN) May 11, 2021
But who do you want to see get their moment in the spotlight in this series? Let us know in the comments below.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.