Lebron James refuses to just shut up and dribble. In addition to singing the praises of black women everywhere, namely his wife Savannah, and opening up a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, ESSENCE reports the NBA star has been making moves in film and television as well with brands such as NBC, Netflix and Showtime. For his latest project, Lebron is resurrecting the tale of Mr. Clark and the monumental changes he made at Eastside High as he retells the 1989 fan-favorite Lean On Me which starred Morgan Freeman.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers player who will start next season as a part of the Los Angeles Lakers has joined John Legend and Wendy Calhoun in adapting Lean On Me for the small screen. Instead of centering on Principal Joe Clark, the new series will focus on Amarie Baldwin, a young Black teacher who’s hired to be the principal at a struggling Akron high school. Deadline reports the timely changes the series will take to reflect inclusion and diversity:
“In a time when education and school safety have life-or-death stakes, Amarie will take on a broken system that tests her mettle, love life and family. But can she keep her moxie in check in order to embody the aspirational educator that motivates and uplifts an entire community?”
We may not see Mr. Clark telling a student to jump off the roof since he’s killing his brain cells with drugs anyway or running through the halls yelling at staff to “take the chains off the doors” but the series will still tackle the same themes the movie did highlighting how often public school systems fail students of color, and the obstacles inner-city students must navigate in order to succeed. The original movie was based on the work of Joe Louis Clark, a real-life inner-city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey who was tasked with getting his students to improve their test scores in the New Jersey Minimum Basic Skills Test in order to avoid being taken over by the state government. In the process, Clark was jailed for unconventional methods he used to keep students safe and protected such as putting chains on the doors to keep violence and criminals out of the school.
Calhoun serves as writer and executive producer for the potential hour-long drama in development at the CW network, while James and Legend will take on the roles of executive producers.
Not sure if I can picture this story without Morgan Freeman, but it will be interesting to see how the series tackles the topic of inner-city school system failings which unfortunately are as relevant today as they were almost thirty years ago.