Emmy winner Lena Waithe has officially signed an exclusive multi-year overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. Through her Hillman Grad Productions, Waithe will be producing and developing new shows for all platforms including HBO Max, and five broadcast networks.
The first project under the overall deal is the development of a series adaptation of Hoop Dreams, based on the acclaimed 1994 documentary film of the same name. The project will be executive produced by Waithe, with Aaron Rahsaan Thomas attached to pen the scripted drama.
“Hoop Dreams was a very important documentary in my life growing up, it was right in my own backyard,” Waithe said in a statement (via Deadline). “I was seeing two young Black people with dreams bigger than their backyard and watching their journeys as they also struggled and tried to understand where they fit in their families. I always knew I wanted to bring that story back because Hoop Dreams, to me, is so representative of what it means to have a dream, to be from a city that you really believe in, and you’re really proud to be from.”
She added, “I didn’t want to announce or talk about Hoop Dreams until they had been contacted by the filmmakers to know that we were doing this even though we aren’t going to base characters on them per se, we’re going to [do] something set in the 90s, some kids with a dream, so it will be in a similar vein. It was so important that they know that these stories will be handled with care, the title will be handled with care.”
The Hoop Dreams series hails from executive producers Thomas, Rish Ranjani, Scott Huff, David A. Stern, and Colin Callender along with original producers Steve James, Peter Gilbert, and Frederick Marx.
Described as a coming-of-age drama, it will center around two African American teenage boys in 1990s Chicago as they experienced the privileges and pitfalls of being high school basketball phenoms at the height of the Jordan era, and the start of high school players turning pro. Through their friendship and rivalry, the boys must learn to empower themselves in a world that considers them commodities before they can legally drive.
The original documentary film was directed by Steve James. It centered around William Gates and Arthur Agee as they get recruited by a predominantly white high school. Despite the opportunity, both of them struggled with adapting to their new environment which led to having a difficult time improving their skills.