LeBron James is giving his adopted hometown an extreme neighborhood makeover.
The NBA icon is executive producer of a new CNBC series called CLEVELAND HUSTLES which aims to rebuild one of the city’s overlooked neighborhoods by pairing up budding entrepreneurs with millionaire investors.
“The hope is that by the end of the eight episodes, we will have four completed businesses that will be up and running,” says Jim Ackerman, the network’s EVP of Primetime Alternative programming.
“Right now we have between 18 and 20 businesses (under consideration). Our investors will go of and meet with these businesses. We will put eight of them on the show and whittle it down to four who will actually get investments.”
James will appear on camera but will not invest directly in the businesses.
“He has his LeBron James Family Foundations,” Ackerman tells TheTVPage.com.
“As part of the neighborhood, we might take over a park and invest money in that or some sort of beautification for the street itself.”
The program will focus its revitalization efforts in a small concentrated area.
“We are also looking at neighborhoods where the transformation is already underway,” Ackerman says. “We are probably not going to go into a place that is completely devoid of business.”
The network faces an uphill battle if it hopes to get the first episodes on the air this summer.
Obtaining building permits and completing simple construction can take months under the best circumstances.
“LeBron and [childhood pal/business partner] Maverick Carter have a little pull in Cleveland,” Ackerman says.
“But something like a restaurant, for example, could take a long time to open. Sometimes it can take eight or nine months to get a liquor license. So there are certain things we simply won’t be able to do. We will have a little bit of an advantage because it is a great thing for the city, but we have to follow the same rules as everybody else.”
No decision has been made about relocating the show to a new city for a second season or simply moving to another part of C-Town.
James — who is originally from Akron, Ohio — also serves as an executive producer of the Starz basketball drama SURVIVOR’S REMORSE.
Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
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