Is LeBron the Next Oprah?

By Max Godnick

LeBron James is ready to add another title to his already gilded resume: Hollywood mogul.

The three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP redrew the professional basketball landscape when he announced he will join the Los Angeles Lakers. The move allows him to work and live closer to his already impressive entertainment empire. His production company, SpringHill Entertainment, is based on the Warner Bros. lot, just a few miles up the 101 Freeway from his new primary office, the STAPLES Center.

"The ease of him being in the heart of Hollywood is really setting up the next stage of what his professional career is going to be," said Sean O'Connell, the managing editor at Cinemablend, in an interview with Cheddar on Tuesday.

James's slate of upcoming projects includes a remake of the 1990 comedy "House Party," multiple series and documentaries in the works at Netflix and HBO, and the long-rumored sequel to the Michael Jordan-Bugs Bunny collaboration, "Space Jam." He'll be physically much closer to their development, production, and marketing processes in Los Angeles than he was in Cleveland or Miami.

The basketball star is still months away from suiting up as a Laker for the first time, but he's already drawing comparisons to some of the entertainment industry's biggest names.

"I think he's primarily going to become a dominant producing force and maybe becomes like an Oprah-type person who launches his own channel, and it's loaded with content that speaks to his interests," said O'Connell.

The current Hollywood landscape puts a premium on A-list talent with worldwide fan bases. The past few months have seen Winfrey ink a multi-year content partnership with Apple, while Barack and Michelle Obama signed a deal with Netflix.

ESPN recently ranked James second on its annual list of the most famous names in sports - only trailing international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. While he clearly doesn't need any help expanding the scope of his fame or influence, James's new home could allow his ambitions and portfolio to reach even higher heights.

"LeBron is a household name and a household face before he even steps into the entertainment realm," said O'Connell. "He can become a true media mogul and make this transition."

For the full segment, click here.

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