For years, there’s been attempts at getting a Richard Pryor biopic made. The first go-around included Chris Rock and Adam Sandler producing with Marlon Wayans as Pryor, with a later attempt finding Mike Epps as Pryor and Eddie Murphy as Pryor’s father, with Lee Daniels directing and Oprah Winfrey producing. Obviously, neither of these came to fruition. But all hope has not been lost.
Today, it’s been announced that MGM won an auction for the rights to a new biopic that is to be written and directed by Kenya Barris. Joining Barris as a producer will be Jennifer Lee Pryor, along with Tory Metzger representing Levantine Films. Adam Rosenberg and Renee Witt also have come on board as executive producers.
“The way Pryor did what he did — with truth and specificity that was somehow self-aware and self-deprecating, and said with an unmatched level of vulnerability – that was the power and impact of his work,” said Barris in a statement. “Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created. To me, this is a film about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”
“Having had a front row seat to much of Richard’s life, I am excited that the mystery of his genius is finally going to be explored and Kenya Barris is the perfect person to do it,” added Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor. “Richard and Kenya are creative brothers.”
Added Michael De Luca, who is MGM Film Group Chairman and Pamela Abdy, MGM Film Group President, “The NY Times has said of Richard Pryor, he was an ‘iconoclastic standup comedian who transcended barriers of race and brought a biting, irreverent humor into America’s living rooms, movie houses, clubs and concert halls.’ We couldn’t agree more. Along with our partners Kenya, Tory, Jennifer and Adam, we are incredibly excited to share Richard’s extraordinary life with audiences the world over.”
Naturally, Richard Pryor is of course deserving of a biopic. His legacy looms large above this industry to this day, and this biopic will help ensure that his genius will not be forgotten anytime soon.