EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Hart is signing on to star with LeBron James in Ballers, the basketball comedy for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer and Michael Rosenberg are producing.
Hart will first co-write the comedy along with his scripting teammates Joey Wells, Chris Spencer and Harry Ratchford. He’ll then star as a man who lives in the shadow of his NBA superstar brother (James), but gets a chance to prove himself when he and some pals attend a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami. Hart is certainly dominant in the stand-up arena, but posting up against this screen sibling could be dangerous. Hart is under 5’3″ while James is a towering 6’8.” That kind of sibling size differential hasn’t been seen since Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in another Universal comedy, Twins. They’ll sign a director when Hart and his cohorts turn in the script. The plan is to start production next summer when James has time off.
James has been looking to make his feature starring debut in this film for a couple of years, but it has taken time to get this project off the ground. The script was first written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, with Peter Steinfeld. Meanwhile, Hart has been making stuff happen all over town. He stars for Universal with Ice Cube in Ride Along, and the studio is so bullish that a sequel is already well along; after scoring a hit in Think Like A Man, Hart will be heading the cast in that sequel as well. He also completed a reboot of About Last Night, and is starring for Chris Rock in Finally Famous. He has the charisma to help James make the transition to acting like Michael Jordan did in Space Jam when MJ was the NBA’s best player. James has led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships and won four MVP awards, and there is little argument he is the game’s dominant baller. James will be exec producer on the film along with Maverick Carter, Kim Roth and Hart. Hart is repped by UTA, 3 Arts and Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams.
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