Paroled NFL star Michael Vick to star in BET docu-reality series
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/08/2009
Michael Vick will apparently have his own reality series after all.
The NFL star -- who was recently released from a 23-month federal sentence for dogfighting conspiracy -- is teaming up with BET for a new docu-reality series that will follow his troubled past and controversial football comeback, The Los Angeles Timesreported Wednesday.
"I just want people to really get to know me as an individual," Vick told The Times. "What I want to do is change the perception of me. I am a human being. I've made some mistakes in the past, and I wish it had never happened. But it's not about how you fall, but about how you pick yourself up."
Vick was released from federal custody in July -- but before he even got out from behind bars, it was reported that he was in talks with producers about developing a reality series after his attorneys had previously told a judge at a bankruptcy hearing that he had agreed to a "television documentary deal" that would pay him $600,000.
While his attorney subsequently denied the claim vehemently, Vick finished serving his sentence, was reinstated to the NFL, found a new team in the Philadelphia Eagles and is apparently eager to let others learn from his mistakes.
"This show can be a blueprint for so many kids," he told The Times. "I want to show them that things are going to happen, that they're not going to get through life without dealing with some kind of adversity. I want to show that if they have a fall from grace, this is how they can turn it around. We want this to be a story of hope."
Despite his hopes for the project, some are skeptical -- including officials with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"People who abuse animals don't deserve to be rewarded. They shouldn't be given multimillion-dollar contracts... or given the privilege of being a role model," PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told The Times.
"We don't believe Michael Vick understands the seriousness of his crime. I think he's sorry he got caught, but only time will tell if he's truly remorseful."
Vick said he understands that regardless of his actions in the future, it will be hard for some to forget his past.
"All I can ask is that people are receptive and come to this with an open mind," he told The Times. "I can't change the past, I can only change the present. I know there are people who can't forget what I did, but I hope they can someday forgive me."
The eight episode series will be produced by DuBose Entertainment, Vick's MV7 Productions production company, and Category 5 Entertainment. Nobody affiliated with the project would comment to The Times about the compensation Vick -- who is required to repay an estimated $20 million to creditors under a six-year bankruptcy plan a judge approved in August -- will receive.
The series will reportedly follow Vick as he struggles with personal demons since his release, including the strains on his relationships with fiancee Kijafa Frink and his children. It will also revisit the federal prison in Kansas where he served his sentence, and the Virginia property where he financed and operated a dogfighting ring.
While Vick has participated in numerous media appearances since his release, executive producer James DuBose said the upcoming docu-relaity series will be different.
"We've heard the results, but we have not seen the process of how Michael got to where he was," DuBose told The Times. "This is the raw storytelling of what happened, why and how."
In addition, producers claim the project has the backing of the Eagles, the NFL, Vick's mentor Tony Dungy, and -- somewhat surprisingly -- the Humane Society.
"I did not reach out for this show in order to court controversy," BET executive Loretha Jones told The Times.
"That's not where we're taking the network... It's important for us to capture this important moment to see what someone does when they have the opportunity to rebuild themselves. It might serve as a road map for young men facing the same challenge."
Jones added that Vick's past will not be portrayed in a positive light simply because it's his show.
"No way are we excusing or minimizing the atrocity that Michael was involved in," she told The Times. "Michael makes no attempt to do that. It is inexcusable. However, there are numerous public figures who have engaged in egregious behavior and have been given a second chance."