Boxing drama project shepherded by Ridley, Ellin, Lee

HBO is about to give a pilot order to a drama series from Doug Ellin, John Ridley and Spike Lee that is loosely inspired by Mike Tyson’s early years in boxing.

Project, dubbed “Da Brick,” was penned by Ridley, who will serve as showrunner. Lee is onboard to direct the pilot and exec produce, along with Ellin, the steward of HBO’s “Entourage,” as well as Tyson and Ellin’s producing partner, Jim Lefkowitz. Tyson’s wife, Lakiha Tyson, will co-exec produce along with Azim Spicer.

“Da Brick” will be produced through Ellin’s overall deal with HBO. As “Entourage” winds down its eight-season run on HBO this year, Ellin has been looking to branch out as a producer. “Da Brick” marks the first project from Ellin’s Fly the Coop Entertainment banner that he did not write.

The connection with Tyson came about after the boxer did a guest shot last season on “Entourage.”

“He said to me, ‘Why don’t you do with my life what you did with Mark (Wahlberg’s) life” with “Entourage,” Ellin told Variety.

Ellin and Lefkowitz met with numerous writers before settling on film and TV vet Ridley as the one to translate Tyson’s story. The series will not be a straight bio vehicle but will follow the rise of a young boxer in present-day Newark, N.J. (“Da Brick” refers to Newark being known as “the brickyard city.”)

Ridley and Ellin spent a lot of time with Tyson during the past year gathering material. Ridley in turn helped recruited Lee to the project.

“John wrote an amazingly intricate script,” Ellin said. “There’s lots of places it can go. It won’t just focus on boxing.”

HBO has a casting director searching for a thesp with some boxing chops.

In addition to “Da Brick,” Ellin is set to begin lensing in October the pilot for the half-hour HBO dramedy “40,” which he penned about a group of male friends in Gotham. Ed Burns is set to star (Daily Variety, March 2).

Ellin and Lefkowitz are repped by WME. CAA reps Ridley and Lee.

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