‘Hoop Dreams’: Lena Waithe Developing Scripted Drama Series Based on Classic Documentary!!

Lena Waithe and her Hillman Grad Productions company previously signed a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Television Group to create exclusive shows for “all platforms, including WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, external streaming services, cable, and the five broadcast networks.” Her first project, alongside Hillman Grad co-founder Rishi Rajani, is a scripted drama based on Hoop Dreams, Steve James‘ 1994 magnum opus documentary.

The series, written by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (S.W.A.T.), centers on two African American high school basketball players with great potential to be future stars. Through their immense talent, the school and the world around them see them as less and less human and more as assets that are only given value by their ability to play ball. James’ original documentary was painstakingly created over the course of five years with 250 hours of film shot in that time. The effort paid off, as it became one of the first documentaries to garner box office success instead of simply praise from the film world. William Gates and Arthur Agee, the two players featured in the original Hoop Dreams, signed off on Waithe‘s new adaptation.

For Waithe, a Chicago native, Hoop Dreams was an important coming-of-age film for her, as she explained in a statement:

Hoop Dreams was a very important documentary in my life growing up, it was right in my own backyard. “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.

Waithe approached the project with a lot of respect for James‘ original work, wanting to keep the original subjects and filmmakers in the loop regarding her plans. That approach worked wonders as Hillman Grad managed to get James, Peter Gilbert, and Frederick Marx all on board as executive producers for the show. In a joint statement, they expressed their excitement to join in on Waithe‘s adaptation and called her “the ideal Chicagoan to lead the effort to finally make it happen.

Waithe and Rajani will executive produce for the series under Hillman Grad alongside James, Gilbert, and Marx. It wasn’t easy for Warner Bros. to secure the Emmy-winner and her company as they had just come off an overall deal with Amazon and were negotiating with various studios to find a perfect fit. While there were few details, it was said to be a highly competitive affair. In a statement about the deal, Waithe and Rajani said:

Warner Brothers just offered a different experience than what we were doing and being able to go to different places, which is really how we’ve operated anyway, so, it just really felt like a natural fit. We really also enjoyed our time at Amazon, being able to have all the episodes up in so many different territories all at once. [Warner Bros. TV’s] Channing and Clancy have been such champions, and they were also a huge part of that, too, because it’s not just the company, it’s the people at the company. We enjoyed working with the people at Amazon, we enjoy working with the people at Warner Brothers, and that’s really ultimately what it is, it’s a relationship, it’s a commitment to linking arms and to doing work that you both believe in.

There is no official release date yet for Waithe‘s Hoop Dreams series.

Here’s the official logline for Waithe‘s Hoop Dreams:

The proposed series is a coming-of-age drama following two African American teenage boys in 1990s Chicago experiencing 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.


via Collider

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