Via Deadline, screenwriter and producer Kenya Barris is set to direct an untitled biopic about the life of stand-up comedian, writer, and actor Richard Pryor, this follows the announcement that MGM received the worldwide rights for the highly competitive project.
Barris, creator of Black-ish and co-writer of Girls Trip and The Witches, will direct, write, and produce the biopic. This will be Barris’ feature directorial debut as he’s only directed a few episodes of Black-ish and #BlackAF. Barris created an “ish- universe,” for lack of a better term, that was highly successful for audiences and critics alike.
Richard Pryor, the subject of the biopic, revolutionized the stand-up format. Before Pryor stand-up was relatively clean, performative, and a suit and tie traditionally accompanied the comedian. However, Pryor brought a true and laid back attitude that is seen throughout most contemporary comedians.
Barris said it perfectly in a statement, “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.” The director and writer clearly understands what made Pryor special. He says that the film is “about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”
Pryor died in 2005, but his widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, whom he married once in the 80’s and then again in the early 2000’s, is attached to the project and has high hopes. She said, “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.”
Biographical pictures are difficult to get right, recent films such as Rocketman and Judy have seen success critically, financially and well wishes from the subject or estate of the subject, but some such as the upcoming Bowie film Stardust has seen scrutiny from Bowie’s son, director Duncan Jones.
Though, this Pryor picture seems to be approved by everyone from the stand-up’s life and is done with the best of intentions. Not only that, everyone has the utmost faith in the creative team that Kenya Barris will lead.
There is no set release date, but Richard Pryor has a wonderful filmography that spans decades. Blazing Saddles, Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, and Richard Pryor: Live in Concert are good places to start.