COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — NBC4 anchor Jerod Smalley is appearing in a new movie that tells the origin story of NBA champion LeBron James.
Premiering on Peacock on Friday, “Shooting Stars” tells the story of James’ high school basketball career at Akron St. Vincent St. Mary. The movie features actors Dermot Mulroney, Wood Harris and a young man named Mookie Cook to play James. Cook has committed to playing basketball at Oregon next school year.
Smalley said he got a call from the film’s casting director early in May of 2022, during which the movie was already well into production in northeast Ohio.
The casting agency told Smalley they were looking for a play-by-play announcer for a specific scene in “Shooting Stars,” and asked if he could be the one to do it. That night, Smalley received the lines for the scene and made a video for the director to review. The next day, Smalley was hired.
Smalley drove to Cleveland on May 10 last year to where the movie was staged at an abandoned school the filmmakers had repurposed. Smalley arrived for a wardrobe fitting, where he was put into an early 2000’s suit.
The next day, Smalley shot the scene at a gym on the Case Western University campus, where he had his own dressing room. Smalley met his fellow announcer for the scene, a veteran actor named Brian Anthony Wilson from Philadelphia. Smalley said he was the perfect scene partner and immediately put him at ease. Throughout the 10-hour day, Smalley and Wilson swapped stories and found so many eerie similarities between acting and broadcasting.
Smalley also met the director, Chris Robinson, who explained why the filmmakers wanted him for the scene. The scene Smalley is in depicts a time when LeBron is dealing with failure at a young age when the team loses to Oak Hill Academy.
For Wilson and Smalley, their job was to narrate that struggle and reflect the disappointment with James’ performance. Robinson said they wanted the game to feel and sound as real as possible, so they wanted a real broadcaster for the role.
Smalley said he left the set with a new appreciation for the nature of the filmmaking process, and the stamina the entire staff showed. A year later, Smalley said he is still processing his day on set.
Learn more about “Shooting Stars” and how to watch the movie on Peacock here.