HBO’s Lakers TV Show Loses Bo Burnham as Larry Bird
Bo Burnham has left the role of basketball player Larry Bird on HBO Max’s upcoming untitled TV series about the Los Angeles Lakers. The much-hyped project created by Adam McKay, Max Borenstein, and Jim Hecht was announced in 2019 and is based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, by Jeff Pearlman. Burnham was set to play the Celtics forward during the height of his career, a casting that had basketball and comedy fans alike excited by the crossover. Many had noted the comedian’s resemblance to the player and looked forward to seeing HBO take advantage of the opportunity.
Variety now reports that Burnham will not portray Bird in the series. An unnamed source says that the actor departed the project because of scheduling issues. The role has already been recast with up-and-comer Sean Patrick Small. Small announced the news to his followers on Instagram in a post that suggests his casting has been in the works for some time:
Burnham has yet to comment on his departure, but it’s no surprise that the director, producer, actor, and comedian is overbooked. Burnham released his latest musical comedy/standup special Inside on Netflix in May to widespread acclaim from critics and fans. Burnham wrote and filmed Inside over a year of lockdown-induced isolation, an all-consuming creative process he addresses in a meta-commentary throughout the special. Burnham implies that he’ll have more free time on his hands upon finishing the project, but it’s been reported that he’s currently working on a screenplay and involved in Warner Bros.’ Sesame Street movie alongside Chance the Rapper and Anne Hathaway.
Larry Bird’s arc in the Los Angeles Lakers HBO Max series will focus on his ongoing public rivalry with Magic Johnson that began during their NCAA championship faceoff. He will be depicted as a laser-focused player who abhors the fame that comes along with it. Along with Small, the Lakers drama will star John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson, Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Jason Clarke as Jerry West. The ensemble cast also features Gabby Hoffman, Sally Field, Jason Segel, Adrien Brody, Lola Kirke, Gillian Jacobs, Hadley Robinson, Molly Gordon, DeVaughn Nixon, Rob Morgan, Spencer Garrett, Kirk Bovill, Delante Desouza, Michael Chiklis, Sarah Ramos, and Wood Harris, among others.
Source: Variety, Sean Patrick Small