Jeanie Buss sees Tom Selleck in the role of Phil Jackson. "Tom is tall, good-looking, and he was an athlete," says Buss. "I think he'd be perfect." Jackson isn't so sure. " Tim Robbins maybe," he says, with some measure of chagrin. "He's an intellectual. Or so I hear."
The pilot script for the as yet untitled dramatic series about the life of Buss is being polished by Audrey Wells, who adapted and directed Under the Tuscan Sun, and hasn't been delivered to NBC. But already there's been much speculation about casting, which is good in Hollywood—the more buzz the better.
One of the leading candidates to play the Buss role is Kristin Davis from Sex and the City. Another possibility is Heather Locklear, a courtside regular at the Staples Center. NBA Entertainment has signed on as a coproducer, raising the obvious question about whether it will attempt to airbrush anything controversial (as the NFL wishes it could with ESPN's Playmakers). Buss isn't worried. "I think [commissioner] David Stern is savvy enough to want a product that is interesting but doesn't cross the line of integrity," she says. "And we gain so much by using real team names, real logos, real arenas."
But not real Lakers—the characters will not include Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. If the network did want to cast players, Los Angeles forward Rick Fox is an experienced thespian (he was terrific in HBO's Oz) and Shaq was a so-called "genie with an attitude" in Kazaam (though no one suggested he give up his day job). The ideal supporting cast would be easy to imagine. For starters try Steven (Law& Order) Hill as the commish, Jon Voight as the Lakers' owner and James Woods as the ubiquitous TV interviewer especially tight with one of the stars.
The latest word on Wells's script is that it begins with the Buss character in bed with a man after what was evidently a night of bliss. The woman is thinking about how this man could be Mr. Right until he spoils the moment by asking for "a couple of floor seats" for that night's game. "That didn't literally happen to me," says Buss, "but I'm familiar with the situation." The plan is for the Jackson character to arrive later, replacing an old school coach, and for the Buss-Jackson relationship to blossom slowly, as it did in real life.
Buss says the show wouldn't include a re-creation of a Lakers season, but the rich tension between the team's two stars would be written in, and certainly the Jackson character would have to deal with it. That's a job for an intellectual—or so we hear.