Inside the NBA analyst and former Sixers star Charles Barkley has a new gig that’s likely to take him further than usual from sports.
During a recent meeting with reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer meetings in Beverly Hills, Calif., TNT announced it had greenlit a series — working title The Race Card — that “will follow Barkley as he goes on a personal journey to explore and understand why our country is so divided right now.”
It’s expected to premiere early in 2017.
“I really love his ambition,” said TBS/TNT president Kevin Reilly told me during a Turner Entertainment party in Los Angeles Sunday night. “First of all, Charles is one of the few guys who is not afraid to get in the middle of the very thorny, and unfortunately, all-too-real and complex issue of race relations…and just tension in our society in general. And to take a provocative position that’s usually not necessarily predictable.
“But he feels really strongly that he’s given an opportunity to get out there and actually bring this to the forefront, and create a dialogue, and he’s going to bring a Who’s Who (of people) with him to both dramatize it, to opine on it, to participate. And he hopes its sort of a lightening rod, and a really constructive dialogue.”
The way Reilly sees it, “it would be really, really easy for (Barkley) to not take this on, but he felt strongly about it.. and I think it’s to be applauded. Plus, if the current election cycle proves nothing else, it’s that “they want people to at least be real.”
Barkley, Reilly said, “said that ‘I just can’t believe in my lifetime that I’m still dealing with these issues.’ See he feels really passionate about it, and it’s going to be, I think, a very artistic endeavor. I don’t want to really speak to the form, but it’s going to be more of a sort of a documentary effort,” rather than a talk show.