Lee Daniels returns to Richard Pryor biopic; Jay-Z added as a producer

Back in May we reported that the long-gestating Richard Pryor biopic was cancelled because director Lee Daniels had to bail due to his busy schedule. I would be over-exaggerating in saying the world wept, but I certainly did, and my friends can attest to the fact I locked myself in my room for a fortnight so that I may sob in solitude. Turns out, all those tears and listening to Enya was for nothing.

According to Variety, the movie RICHARD PRYOR: IS IT SOMETHING I SAID?, is back on track with an early 2017 shoot date. Daniels will return to the director’s chair, with Jay-Z added as a producer, teaming-up with The Weinstein Company. The movie will retain star Mike Epps as the prolific comedian working from a script by Bill Condon. Break out the champagne! Drinks all around!

No word yet on if the rest of the cast will return, which included Oprah Winfrey playing Pryor's grandmother Marie, Tracy Morgan as Red Foxx, Kate Hudson as Pryor’s wife Jennifer, and Eddie Murphy as Pryor’s father LeRoy, but seeing as how filming is being fast-tracked for early 2017 it’s safe to assume the whole cast is still on-board. More drinks all around!

Oh, but there’s more! News from BMD is the movie will debut on Netflix, which if you don’t know is a small streaming service on the inter-web that’s looking to break into motion pictures. This has the potential to be a huge movie for service, as having Oscar-nominated talent both in front of and behind the camera could make for a tremendous biopic worthy of some Oscar love of its own. In order to qualify for any awards, though, the movie would have to get some sort of release in theaters, much like what was done with last year’s stunning BEASTS OF NO NATION.

Though there are some who were disillusioned by the casting of Epps, I am thoroughly anticipating this movie as Pryor’s life is ripe for the biopic scene. After his mom abandoned him at age 10 he was raised primarily by his often violent grandma in her brothel. Then Pryor went on to become one of the biggest comedians and actors of the 70’s, and even after his death in 2005 his work still permeates through our culture. As for Epps, I was a little…well…I was something when he was cast. But then I remembered some people have surprised us with their dramatic capabilities, like Adam Sandler in PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE and Murphy in DREAMGIRLS. With the right material anyone can turn in a great performance, and Epps will certainly have great material. Just get this movie going, and I don’t wanna hear another word about a cancellation or so help me I will slap everyone involved!

RICHARD PRYOR: IS IT SOMETHING I SAID will begin filming early 2017 with Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Morgan, Kate Hudson, and with Lee Daniels directing. Expect a late 2017 release date.

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