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"Space Jam," the 1996 movie starring Michael Jordan, must have been great because there’s going to be a sequel.
This week, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news -- breathlessly, I presume — that a script is in the works — and that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James will be the star.
'A Legitimate Fascination'
"Space Jam" came out when Kristen Ledlow was 8 years old. And it changed her life. It really did.
"It was on a loop when I was a kid," she says. "It was on a constant loop."
Ledlow acknowledges watching Space Jam at least 100 times. In case you haven’t, here’s quick summary of the plot, such as it was: Michael Jordan joins Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang to defeat a basketball team of juiced up aliens.
It's hard to object to it. It was fun. And cartoons -- you can't be the person yelling at cartoons.Desson Thomson, former Washington Post film critic
"People kind of laugh at my love for 'Space Jam,'" Ledlow says. "But this is a legitimate fascination that led to what has now become an actual career."
Space Jam opens with a scene based on a real event: the press conference in which Jordan announced his first retirement from the NBA to pursue an ill-fated baseball career.
"I remember so distinctly — not just watching on 'Space Jam' — but also watching as Michael was retiring that first time to go play baseball and seeing a woman actually able to ask him a question," Ledlow remembers. "And I just remember it hitting me as a little girl: that is her actual job. Like, she is getting paid money to ask Michael Jordan questions! And that must rule. So I remember thinking that as a kid, and that was kind of my first thought as to maybe one day I can do something like that."
Now she does do something like that.
Ledlow is the co-host of NBA TV's Inside Stuff and a reporter for the NBA on TNT. And, if her Twitter followers get their wish, her resume will add a line: actress.
"There have been a number of suggestions that this new edition of 'Space Jam' should contain a cameo," I say. "And the cameo should be you. I assume that you would be interested if Hollywood called."
"Why yes," she says. "If and when they call, I will be there."
A Critic's Perspective
"To be honest, I thought this was just a Michael Jordan love-in," says Desson Thomson, a film critic for the Washington Post in the '90s. "But, you know, done in fun."
Thomson was tasked with reviewing the original movie.
"It's hard to object to it," he says. "It was fun. And cartoons — you can't be the person yelling at cartoons. You just can't. Otherwise you'll be found in a park later holding a bag and collecting bits of string and muttering to yourself."
"What about Michael Jordan as an actor?" I ask. "Obviously he was established as a great basketball player and would go on to become an even more accomplished basketball player. But what about Michael Jordan the actor?"
"I think it ranks with how great he was as a baseball player," Thomson says. "I'm torn between which one he edged out on that."
Can James match up as a thespian? Well, he’s no cinematic rookie. He joined Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in the 2015 movie "Trainwreck."
Will Bugs Bunny himself be upstaged? The tension is palpable in Hollywood and beyond…though it hasn’t reached Thomson, who no longer makes his living reviewing movies and says he probably won’t see "Space Jam 2" because he doesn’t have to.
"I'd rather just watch LeBron play ball," he says.
This segment aired on May 7, 2016.
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