The Bizarre Lawsuit Connected to LeBron James’ TV Show ‘The Shop’

LeBron James has transcended sports and jumped into entertainment. The four-time NBA MVP’s own production company produces TV shows, like James’ HBO reality series The Shop.  It’s a popular show, but it’s caused issues with James and his production company. In fact, he faced a lawsuit by another production company. They claimed James’ Uninterrupted brand stole the idea for the show and then cut out the other company.

What is The Shop?

The Shop is a reality show starring James and business partner Maverick Carter. It premiered on HBO in August 2018. Each episode of the series features several celebrities and athletes. They join James and Carter in a barbershop to have what HBO calls “unfiltered conversation and debate.”

While initial reviews of the show were critical, it’s popular with viewers. HBO doesn’t release rating numbers like other networks. But it’s popular enough to have been renewed for a second season.

Is The Shop really “unfiltered?”

The negative reviews were partially attributed to the possibility of the show not being as candid as it’s purported to be — a criticism of many reality shows. Deadspin analyzed the premiere episode. It concluded that the thoughts presented may in fact be truthful and genuine. However, they may not be as “unfiltered” as HBO claims.

The point of the show is to make James and his partners money. The best way to do that is to appeal to the show’s demographic. The thoughts James and his guests share are what they think the audience wants to hear, so the viewers keep watching. While they’re honest opinions, they’re not exactly candid or “unfiltered,” as the show purports.

The lawsuit LeBron James faced over the show

A company called Adventure Enterprises claims it engaged in “numerous talks” with Uninterrupted to discuss a show similar in nature to The Shop, according to ESPN. Adventure Enterprises says the purpose of the discussions was to “flesh out the idea and figure out a strategy for pitching it to various networks.”

Adventure Enterprises claims James’ company cut it out of the show, then proceeded with the project, or a similar one. That information came out in the details of a lawsuit that TMZ Sports reported. The lawsuit sought an injunction to stop the production of future episodes and “serious”  monetary compensation.

According to the lawsuit, the companies discussed a show set in “a barbershop where celebs share their business success stories while getting a haircut,” which is close to what The Shop ended up being. A source close to James and Carter denied any wrongdoing on their behalf. The source described the situation as the company seeking a monetary payment, then being told the claim was “ridiculous,” and then disappearing.

The source described the lawsuit as “an opportunity for a publicity stunt” after news broke about Uninterrupted expressing concerns over copyright infringement regarding a similarly-themed show produced by the University of Alabama, Shop Talk.

This didn’t result in a lawsuit, but Alabama did change the name of the show to Bama Cuts for its second episode, and that may have been the inspiration for Adventure Enterprises to file its lawsuit.  The lawsuit was dropped in July 2018, “with each party to bear its own costs and fees,” indicating that there was likely no monetary settlement.