Oscar-nominated actor John C. Reilly is coming to the rescue of an old friend, as he has signed on to replace Michael Shannon as Lakers owner Jerry Buss in HBO’s drama pilot about the Showtime-era Lakers, which reunites him with frequent collaborator Adam McKay.
The series will depict Buss as a self-made millionaire whose success has only amplified his proclivity for risk. Buss redefines American sports, celebrity, and wealth by transforming the Lakers into a basketball dynasty, but his house of cards threatens to collapse on him — and the people he loves most.
Jason Clarke is set to co-star as Jerry West, the “cantankerous tortured genius of basketball,” per HBO. West ought to be the perfect man to build the Lakers into a dynasty, if only he could get past his own worst enemy — himself.
The HBO series is based on Jeff Pearlman‘s non-fiction book Showtime, which chronicled the personal and professional lives of the Showtime Lakers — a team that defined its era, both on and off the court. In addition to Buss and West, key characters coach Pat Riley and All-Star players like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
McKay will direct the pilot and executive produce alongside Kevin Messick under McKay’s new, yet-to-be-named company. Max Borenstein will serve as writer and executive producer, while Jim Hecht will serve as co-writer and executive producer. Jason Shuman, Scott Stephens and Rodney Barnes round out the EP team. Additional casting is under way, and McKay is expected to start shooting the pilot in September. The series was previously titled Showtime, but seeing as Showtime is also a network that counts HBO as its chief rival, it made sense to change the title rather than confuse audiences.
Reilly earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting turn in Chicago, and he previously worked with McKay on Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and Holmes & Watson. And with the exception of the latter film, he’s coming off a banner year that saw him star in The Sisters Brothers and Stan & Ollie, both of which were very, very good. Reilly also starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s first three films, which was how I first discovered the actor’s brilliant work. He’s represented by WME and Framework Entertainment.
It’s unclear what kind of creative differences led to Shannon’s departure from the project, but it does open up his fall schedule. As you’ll remember, Collider had previously reported that Shannon was being eyed to co-star opposite Bradley Cooper in Guillermo del Toro‘s Nightmare Alley, but that a scheduling issue could pose a problem. Well, that was the HBO series, and with that now off Shannon’s plate, look for him to close that deal soon.