Kobe Almost Spiked Lee Doc Over Creative Control

Filmmaker Spike Lee (”Malcom X”, “Do The Right Thing”, those old Nike commercials as Mars Blackmon saying “It’s gotta be the shoes!”) recently got back behind the camera to do a little day-in-the-life documentary about Kobe Bryant.

Spike Lee Kobe Bryant

The documentary, entitled “Kobe: Doin’ Work”, is set to premiere May 16 on ESPN. However, the film was almost canned before even getting in the can, supposedly because the Lakers star made a last-second demand for complete creative control.

The NEW YORK POST’s PAGE SIX reports that after leaping through hoops to get permission from Kobe, the Lakers, Phil Jackson, the NBA and ESPN, Lee was ready to get the show underway. He had 30 cameras set up at Staples Center to cover Kobe during an April 2008 game against the Spurs.

But suddenly Bryant said he wouldn’t cooperate unless he was granted creative control, sources said. Lee tried several times to call Bryant, who wouldn’t accept his calls. So Lee, at the suggestion of [now former] ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith, drove to Bryant’s house in a gated community, where Bryant refused to see him, sources said.

It even got to the point where Spike was ready to cut Kobe from the film and make the whole movie about Tim Duncan instead. But director & star were able to work it out, obviously since Lee isn’t promoting “Duncan: Doin’ Work”.

It’s nice to see a compromise was reached - or more likely that Spike was compromised into giving in:

“Spike Lee completely yielded,” said one insider. “And at the start of the film, when Kobe arrives at the Staples Center and sees Spike with the camera, he gives him a big smile and thumbs up, showing he knows he won the battle.”

A spokesman for Lee says the story of Bryant’s braggadocio is “completely baseless”, and Spike managed to maintain control after all. However, if the Nielsen numbers are nasty & critics deride the documentary, Spike should have no problem shifting the blame to control freak Kobe.