The cast and producers of Starz’s new half-hour comedy “Survivor’s Remorse” took to the red carpet Tuesday evening at the Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills to premiere the first two episodes of the series.
The series follows Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a professional basketball player who goes from a league minimum salary to a massive contract in a new city, Atlanta. Calloway’s manager Reggie (RonReaco Lee), his sister M-Chuck (Erica Ash), mother Cassie (Tichina Arnold), Uncle Julius (Mike Epps) and Reggie’s wife Missie (Teyonah Parris) all try to help the newly wealthy superstar stay grounded and keep him from going bankrupt.
NBA superstar LeBron James and his longtime business manager Maverick Carter are exec producers, and their experiences of coming into wealth from a poor background and all the challenges it brings are partly what inspired the show. Tom Werner serves as an exec producer on the show, along with James’ financial adviser Paul Wachter, Chris Moore, and pilot scribe Mike O’Malley.
“Tom Werner called me about making a show based on our experiences,” Carter said. “And the idea of survivor’s remorse is a feeling that I deal with.”
“It’s always important for a show to be about something,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. “Comedies tend to have a harder time … but the first time I heard this idea from Maverick and Tom and Paul Wachter, I just felt like it was something that I hadn’t seen on TV before.”
After the screening of the first two episodes of the series, TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith hosted a discussion with James, Carter, Werner and O’Malley. O’Malley and Werner talked about the importance of writing the show to maintain the authenticity of the story and the characters, even if that sometimes means dipping into politically incorrect areas. And when one of the panel members made a joke about what viewers might see in the sixth season of the series, James joked that he wouldn’t promise six seasons, because the last time he’d guaranteed not one, not two, not three, it hadn’t gone over so well.
James also talked about his own experiences of dealing with the challenges of wealth, admitting that saying no to people was one of the most difficult things to learn. He explained his survivor’s remorse as the guilt he feels when one minute he’s spending thousands of dollars on a car or jewelry, and the next he has to turn down a family member or acquaintance for money. For him, saying no to his mother was the most difficult; once he did that, he said knew he could handle any other request that came his way.
Meanwhile, the cast considered the idea of being immensely wealthy and in the spotlight at such a young age, and most opted for financially responsible real estate investments.
“I’d buy another house,” Ash said. “I think property is a really, really great investment. And then I’d take myself on a trip.”
“[I’d get] a house,” Parris said. “One for me, one for mama, one for daddy, who else wants a house? My brothers, anybody who wants a house, you can get one.”
Carter had a different choice, for understandable logistical reasons.
“Everyone says they’d buy their mom a house,” Carter said. “But I think probably a car, because it’s easier than a house. You can go to a car lot and drive away, with a house it’s paperwork.”
Usher thought along those lines as well.
“My parents have been talking about their dream cars for the last 15 years,” Usher said. “I’d probably go out and get my dad a Bentley Continental GT and get my mom a Ferrari.”
Lee had his mind on the water for his hypothetical money.
“I would buy a boat,” Lee said. “I’m an avid boater, I would go and buy a tricked out boat.”
O’Malley opted for a cheaper, though sentimental, option.
“[I’d buy] a thank you card for my father and mother,” O’Malley said.
While the cast uniformly praised their co-stars and the work done by Werner and O’Malley, there was some disagreement in the cast over one important detail of the show’s production — who’s the top baller. (Besides James, of course.)
“Oh, I’m the best the ballplayer on the show,” Usher said. “Oh yeah, me and [RonReaco] had some moments where we got out on the court. I had to show him what’s up.”
Lee didn’t deny the claim, but he pointed to a different crew member as the show’s on-court MVP.
“You know what, Mike O’Malley’s got a mean ass jump shot,” Lee said. “Don’t let him shoot.”
The party continued at the SoHo House in West Hollywood, where the cast and crew relaxed with celebrities including Drake, Baron Davis and Russell Simmons.
“Survivor’s Remorse” premieres at 9 p.m. on Oct. 4 on Starz.
(Pictured: RonReaco Lee, Teyonah Parris, Erica Ash, LeBron James, Tichina Arnold and Jessie T. Usher at the premiere of Starz’ “Survivor’s Remorse”)