Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson‘s one-man stage show that was shot by HBO and directed by Spike Lee that premieres later this year originated in Las Vegas as a much different project, Tyson told the TCA gathering this afternoon. It originally had him backed by a rock band, Tyson noted, before Lee got involved and moved the show to Broadway for two weeks of shows last summer. “Spike changed it to just me,” he said, “though I liked it with the band a lot too.” The show — called Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth — finds the long-troubled and controversial fighter recounting his life’s highs and lows, from his boxing career to his time in prison. While a clip shown from the special made it appear that Tyson was speaking extemporaneously, in fact he’s following a script that was crafted by his wife. It was shot during two of the Broadway performances. While Tyson has had plenty of experiencing performing in entertainment projects, mostly in cameos, the boxer said today that doing his one-man show “felt like second nature.” He was happy to get the gig because it’s helping to pay the bills. “I didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it,” he admitted. Tyson also said he found parallels between emoting onstage and throwing his fists in the ring. “The only difference is I don’t have to go to the hospital after I perform,” he deadpanned. In both cases “it’s like being in a war.”For his part, Lee played up what a professional production this was, shot with 11 cameras from every conceivable angle. And while this was a live one-man show, he said that directing is directing whether fiction or non-fiction. “I don’t make a distinction,” he said. “It’s all storytelling.” Lee also made a point to praise Tyson’s uncanny honesty in the show, a trait that has proven to be something of a hallmark in his life — sometimes to a fault. “Mike Tyson is the most honest human being I’ve ever met in my life,” Lee maintained. “When you see this, he’s out there on the stage naked, displaying his dark parts and his demons to the world. It’s the most courageous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”