New Line, CBA hoop it up

NEW YORK — New Line Television has inked an unusual pact with the Continental Basketball Assn. to develop series, sell a package of games and handle merchandising and sponsorship sales for the league.

CBA, although not owned by the National Basketball Assn., is effectively a farm-team system, with 10 teams supplying 45 players to the NBA in the past season alone. New Line, seeking opportunities to develop franchise properties, got its first taste of basketball with the release of acclaimed docu “Hoop Dreams.”

The sport “really can be married with entertainment very easily,” said Christopher Russo, New Line’s exec VP of franchise programming and marketing. “We’re seeing a lot of that in Hollywood right now,” with other feature film projects in the works.

New Line will help the league seek outlets for a game-of-the-week package, but also plans to develop a dramatic or reality series focusing on players and “the lives of these guys struggling to make it to the NBA.” The CBA also will turn to New Line to develop new graphics, a licensing program and sponsorships for the league, in a sense putting the studio in competish with International Management Group and other sports-marketing entities.

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