Jeanie Buss lends memories of her father to a new Lakers documentary

Jeanie Buss at the Belasco Theater on Sept. 13.
Jeanie Buss at the Belasco Theater on Sept. 13.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

When Jeanie Buss sorts through her late father’s belongings and memorabilia from his life, her emotions are complicated.

Preserving Jerry Buss’ legacy matters to her. It’s part of the impetus for her latest passion project.

Haven Entertainment has begun production on an untitled Lakers documentary. The film will focus on the Showtime-era Lakers, who won five championships in nine years. It will pay special attention to team owner Jerry Buss’ life, his relationship with former star Magic Johnson and how he implemented his vision for the Lakers.


“Last Friday we had, we called it a purge party at the offices to get people to start preparing for the move [to a new facility] next summer,” Buss said. “And going through the stuff [I saw] things that I hadn’t seen in a long time. That’s why I feel like it’s an important story to tell, and the footage we’ve been able to provide, the documentary is stuff that people have never seen before. I think it’s bringing up things that I hadn’t thought about in a long time that I think are still relevant to Laker fans today.”

Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis, the Lakers’ manager of special events, are involved with the project. The film is being produced by Kevin Mann and Brendan Bragg.

“We’re telling a story that is as layered as Dr. Jerry Buss himself,” director Kris Belman said. “The challenge is humanizing the enigmatic owner of one of the world’s greatest franchises and quite arguably the greatest dynasty in all of sports … because at his core, Dr. Buss was a friend and a father.”

For Jeanie Buss, working on the film produces complicated emotions.

She’s eager to share her view of her father. She’s eager for people to learn more about his life before owning the Lakers, to know that he was called Dr. Buss because he got a PhD in physical chemistry from USC, that he had an especially close relationship with Johnson.

But nostalgia sometimes comes with a price.

“In some ways it gives me peace … it brings back good memories,” she said. “In some ways it makes me sad because I miss it and I know every year we get further and further away from it. I think it’s probably what everybody feels when they look back on their past and their history.”


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