To pass the time, Showtime distributed bottles of sports drink, BodyArmor — a company in which Bryant is a major investor. On the bottle were tags that reminded TV critics the TV project is “a portrait of an elite athlete’s professional and personal journey.” Showtime has said Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful figures in professional sports.
Bryant said he came up with the idea for Kobe Bryant’s Muse while lying in bed, mulling what to do for his next Nike campaign. He decided that, “now that my career is coming to an end” it would be “pretty cool to tell the genesis of where the mentality came from.” That’s the difference, he said, between this Kobe Bryant docu-mercial and an earlier Spike Lee Kobe Bryant documentary — the one that debuted on ESPN in 2009 and focused on one day of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s season.
Some TV critics in the room wanted to talk about the fact that Bryant is an exec producer on the Showtime project, which the network calls a “documentary.” That’s sort of like making one of those “authorized biographies,” one critic noted. Except that Bryant insists that “me as producer is only in title alone. I’m not sure what producer even means.”
Stephen Espinoza, EVP and GM of Showtime Sports & Event Programming, jumped in to explain that Kobe Bryant’s Muse “isn’t intended to be a biography.” Added Bryant: “The smart thing to do would be to make the whole thing a Nike commercial.”
Exec producer Gotham Chopra said Bryant’s exec producer title was “not like, ‘Oh, I want to have creative control and make sure this is a puff piece.’ It’s also about learning.”
“I don’t like editing,” Bryant added.
Spinoza explained later that Kobe Bryant’s Muse, which follows Bryant during the two leg injuries that kept him sidelined for all but six games last season, was a “rare opportunity” to look at a “hummingbird…no longer in constant motion” who had more “time for introspection.”
“Isn’t this weird you’re talking about me and I’m sitting here?” Bryant said. Critics laughed.
When the talk got around to discussing Bryant as a brand, he said, “What is branding? Branding is you being you. The image I project is just me – a nice guy. I’m a generous guy. I’m in asshole. Arrogant. Confident. I’m insecure. We all are.”
Speaking of branding, Bryant said — of the BodyArmor bottles “on everybody’s table — that is not good branding.” Later he mentioned the bottles again, saying, “if there’s too many BodyArmors on the table their are too damn many.”
TV critics asked him some Lakers questions, which Bryant answered, in the course of which he noted critics were not supposed to have been allowed to ask Lakers questions,“but it’s part of the entire damn story.” That was the first some of the critics in the room had heard that anyone involved had agreed to that condition.