HOLLYWOOD — He's out of prison, back in the NFL, and now Michael Vick is going to star in his own television series.
The quarterback, who took his first regular-season pro snap just two weeks ago after serving 18 months in prison, is partnering with BET for a new eight-part docu-series scheduled to air early next year. The program, tentatively titled "The Michael Vick Project," spotlights his controversial comeback with the Philadelphia Eagles while also examining his tumultuous past — including his troubled childhood and his 2007 arrest for running a dogfighting ring.
"I just want people to really get to know me as an individual," Vick said last week in an interview from his home in Philadelphia. "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."
The onetime NFL star's decision to expose his private life to a television audience follows a flurry of recent news and sports media interviews, which began with "60 Minutes" in mid-August. The Vick series is a gamble for a quarterback who is eager to rehabilitate his tarnished image but also doesn't want to incur the further wrath of animal rights protesters, many of whom argued against his reinstatement to the NFL.
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That may be difficult. Officials with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed skepticism about the project.
"People who abuse animals don't deserve to be rewarded," said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. "They shouldn't be given multimillion-dollar contracts ... or given the privilege of being a role model. 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."
The project is being produced by DuBose Entertainment; Vick's production company, MV7 Productions; and Category 5 Entertainment. No one associated with the production would comment on Vick's compensation for the series. In August, a federal judge approved Vick's six-year plan to repay creditors an estimated $20 million and emerge from bankruptcy.
Producers of the Vick series emphasized the program should be considered a docu-series — not a typical reality show like VH-1's "The T.O. Show," which revels in the excesses of its flamboyant star, wide receiver Terrell Owens. The tone of Vick's show, say producers, will be serious and somber as it focuses on his personal struggles since his release, including the strains on his relationships with his fiancee, Kijafa Frink, and his children. It will also revisit the federal prison in Leavenworth, where Vick spent 1 1/2 years behind bars, and the Virginia property where he ran and financed a dogfighting ring.
"This show can be a blueprint for so many kids," he said. "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."
James DuBose, executive producer for the project, said the series will be much more illuminating than Vick's recent media interviews.