HBO and Spike Lee planning series based on Mike Tyson’s life

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Mike Tyson is one of the most fascinating and complicated public figures alive. (If you haven't seen James Toback's intimate documentary Tyson, see it.) So it's maybe not that surprising that HBO has assembled a team of filmmakers including Spike Lee and Entourage creator Doug Ellin to develop a series based loosely on Tyson's life.

Tyson grew up in a brutally poor section of Brooklyn in the 1970s; his only escape was raising pigeons. As a skinny kid with a squeaky lisp for a voice, he was viciously bullied, until an older kid sadistically killed one of his pigeons. Tyson snapped and beat the shit out of his tormentor. Discovering his physical strength put him on a path to self-empowerment, and he became heavyweight champion of the world at a very young age, but his career ended in profound disgrace.

The whole thing is borderline Shakespearean, and done well, a series based on it could be great. It'll be interesting to see how close HBO actually hews to Tyson's life story; one confirmed change is that the series, titled Da Brick, will relocate the action to Newark (that's the "Brick" of the title — Newark's sometimes called "Brick City"). Maybe changing up the details is wise; Tyson's such a singular presence that it's hard to imagine any actor explicitly impersonating him without looking silly. No airdate on this yet, but we'll definitely be watching with interest.