Inside LeBron James’ ‘The Shop’ — which even had Tom Brady a little ‘nervous’

Warning: explicit language

“The Shop” even seemed to unsettle seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

“I remember seeing Tom Brady in the chair next to me,” the show’s co-creator Paul Rivera recently told The Post of the Buccaneers quarterback’s Season 4 appearance last June. “At that point, he had done the show long enough to notice that he was a little nervous.

“But I don’t think he was nervous from the point of view of, ‘Wow, this platform is so big. I’m nervous about being here. But he respected what we do at ‘The Shop’ and wanted to do it right. Me, as a football fan and a Tom Brady fan, I was like, ‘You’re Tom Brady. You are the goat. How nervous are you about our little show?’ That was a very good moment. Honestly, I’ve taken it as the highest compliment that people of his stature care to be nervous.”

So what really happens inside Uninterrupted’s “The Shop,” the safe haven Rivera helped create for sports and pop culture’s biggest stars to voice their opinions in meaningful conversations led by LeBron James and his business partner? Maverick Carter?

The Post was on site for an upcoming episode of “The Shop”
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

The Post was on the set of “The Shop” at All-Star Weekend in Cleveland last month for a behind-the-scenes look at the new fifth season, which premieres March 4. Friday, April 8 – Features rappers Rick Ross and Gunna, Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson, and business expert Steve Stoute.

A Sports Emmy Award-winning talk show, “The Shop” brings together athletes, politicians and celebrities, including Brady, Mary J. Blige, former President Barack Obama and Jay-Z, inside a barbershop, where they get haircuts In place.

When guests arrive on the set of “The Shop,” they are asked on the spot if they would like a haircut and the VIP treatment of hot towels. Many guests have cut their hair on the show, including Draymond Green and Charles Oakley, while rappers Jay-Z and Nas opted not to cut their hair during their respective appearances on the show, according to Nick “Slick” Castellanos, the hairstylist. James staff.

The episode where The Post got an inside look was filmed at the Black Cat barbershop, which is located on Cleveland’s West Side in the historic Gordon Square arts district, about 50 minutes from James’ iPromise school. The popular Cleveland barbershop sits on a quiet corner next to a vacant building. It’s cramped inside and has an edgy rock and roll vibe with vintage furniture and decor.

pulling up

A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces appears on "The store"
A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces appears on “The Shop”
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

When the Uber arrives at the Victorian-style building, it’s hard to imagine what’s going on inside. James, Carter and the guests were inside talking about the meaning of Gunna’s latest hit (“Pushin P”), the moment Wilson knew he deserved a top contract (signed in February), and why the first $1 million check of dollars is the most difficult. to make.

The team is installing cameras and adjusting the lighting. Each barber chair had a seat assignment. Gray Goose bottles were placed between James and Carter’s chairs, although James and Wilson opted to drink red wine throughout the episode.

Guests can drink whatever they want during the recording of “The Shop,” which can last anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours, depending on the level and flow of the conversation and how many drinks have been consumed. Guests on the show are asked to submit their drink orders prior to filming.

“The Shop” was taped in cities across the United States, including Los Angeles and Charlotte, as well as in Toronto during All-Star Weekend 2019.

“The Shop” will choose a barbershop location in whatever city they plan to film and work with the shop owner to gain access to the space. This can be a process, as is arranging times for James and his guests, like Brady, to be in a room together.

A look inside the Black Cat barbershop in Cleveland, Ohio
A look inside the Black Cat barbershop in Cleveland, Ohio
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

When it comes to casting guests for each episode, Rivera said it’s about finding the right people who will make the conversation more dynamic.

“That’s why you’ll never see us in the store discussing who the top five rappers are or who the best basketball player is. We do have a point of view on that though, as you can imagine,” she said, smiling. “These are the richest conversations. That’s how ‘The Shop’ started: we wanted to create a flying experience on the wall for people to learn, empower and be inspired by these conversations.”

It really is a wall flying experience. The cameras are hidden to create an authentic atmosphere. There are no crew members running around to shoot certain angles, and the lights don’t feel like they’re burning the top of your head or causing the room to overheat. It is actually a calm environment that makes you feel at home, sitting around the table, talking with friends.

Brady made headlines during his appearance. At the time, he was discussing his free agency experience in 2020 and commented, “One of the teams, they weren’t interested in the end. He was thinking, ‘Are you going to stay with that son of a bitch?’

“It’s interesting to have a Tom Brady in a room, who is one of the most sheltered and greatest athletes he’s ever done, and put him in a room with Draymond Green, who is one of the most outspoken athletes,” Rivera said. “We are having fun putting rooms [of guests] together, we’re having fun saying, ‘Hey, it would be fun to have Chelsea Handler in a room with Draymond Green.

a new home

LeBron James (right) with his business partner Maverick Carter
Maverick Carter and LeBron James are business partners
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

“The Shop” is now streaming exclusively on the Uninterrupted YouTube channel after four seasons on HBO, due in part to a massive expansion at SpringHill Co., the entertainment and production company founded by James and Carter.

“The idea is that ‘The Shop’ is not just a TV show. It’s a franchise,” Rivera said when discussing the HBO show’s expansion to Uninterrupted’s YouTube channel.

Jamal Henderson, director of content for SpringHill Co., said nothing will change in terms of the show’s point of view. Viewers will still see James and the show’s guests getting haircuts over cocktails while enjoying impromptu conversations about sports, music, celebrities and culture.

Rapper Rick Ross appears on "The store"
Rick Ross appears in “The Store”
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

“We’re just building on our mission of empowerment and we’re excited to continue the show and reach more people through video and audio,” he said.

The expansion of “The Shop” also includes a personal care line for men; a multiplatform version with exclusive audio of “The Shop” in its traditional format; and a dedicated flagship barbershop in Los Angeles for activations, in-person moments, filming and more.

“Not only will we film the show there, but fans will also be able to get their hair cut in the same chair that LeBron’s hair is cut in,” Rivera said.

Yes, haircuts really do happen.

(From left) Nick "slippery" Castellanos, Vince Garcia, and Lionel "brownie mixz" harris of "The store"
Nick “Slick” Castellanos, Vince Garcia and Lionel “Brownie Blendz” Harris from “The Shop”
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

“Barbers are not extras,” Henderson said. “They are real hairdressers and it brings authenticity to the set.”

Since the show is unscripted and focused on authenticity, Henderson said, “We don’t really do a lot of takes. We let the conversation flow.” Except for the time when Ross had to use the bathroom while he was filming in Cleveland and James jokingly called him.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk on social media, like ‘Are they real hairdressers?’ or ‘Does anyone really get a haircut?’” Rivera said, noting that “Maverick and I get a haircut every episode.”

Castellanos has been a mainstay on the program since its inception in 2018. He was actually Dwyane Wade’s personal barber before moving on to James after the Heat legend discovered him in Miami.

Castellanos is one of four main barbers on “The Shop,” including Vince Garcia, who has cut celebrities and athletes like James, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Travis Kelce, Victor Cruz, Ludacris, Drake and Fabolous.

A closeup of the tools inside "The store"
A close-up of the tools inside “The Shop”
Akilah Townsend / UNINTERRUPTED

“I’m actually in Phoenix once a week to cut Devin Booker and a bunch of guys from the Suns,” Garcia told The Post.

Lionel “Brownie Blendz” Harris got his job on “The Shop” through his friend, Warriors star Green, who helped introduce him to the Uninterrupted production team. Harris previously served as a barber for various Raiders players when the team was in Oakland.

“We don’t have time for prep,” Castellanos said of getting his hair cut while filming. “Everything we do is there and we do what we can, but we don’t get in the way of the cameras. So when we finish filming the episode, we’ll only finish the haircuts if the guests want to stay. But actually we put razors to the neck, nail clippers to the head, we brush the hair, we do the whole nine.”

Once director Rob Alexander yells action, the barbers are tasked with doing their jobs and staying as quiet as possible so the cameras and microphones don’t pick up their sounds or those of their instruments.

“Nick, Vince and I are skilled enough to whisper and chat with the customer and work around [production] and do what needs to be done on set,” Harris said. “But the cut we’re making is real. We’ve done full haircuts on the show in the first couple of seasons.”

Garcia recalled, “There was an episode we were shooting and I was doing my thing and I went to the back and Nick came up to me and said, ‘They’re mad at you, bro. It is too noisy'”.

The barbers laughed, thinking of the moment, and said they now use clippers and other tools with quieter motors.

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