Richard Pryor Biopic Gets Black-Ish Creator Kenya Barris to Direct
A Richard Pryor biopic is on the way. MGM has tapped Kenya Barris, best known as the creator of Black-Ish, to helm the movie. Barris will write, direct and produce the movie, which will tell the tale of the legendary and influential comedian. Now the question becomes, who will land the lead role?
According to multiple reports, the project was subject to a major bidding war, with MGM winning out in the end. Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard Pryor’s Widow, is on board to produce alongside Kenya Barris, Tarnished Angel and Tory Metzger. Adam Rosenberg is on board to executive producer. Barris had this to say 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, that was the power and impact of his work. 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.”
Richard Pryor is one of the most celebrated stand-up comedians in history. His work would go on to influence comedians for years to follow. Pryor, who passed away in 2005, was the first recipient of the annual Mark Twain Humor Prize. During his career, Pryor starred in dozens of movies including Superman III, Silver Streak, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Brewster’s Millions. Jennifer Lee Pryor had this to say.
“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. Richard and Kenya are creative brothers.”
Kenya Barris created the hit series Black-Ish as well as the spin-off Grown-Ish. Some of his previous screenwriting credits include The Witches and Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America, which is arriving from Amazon in December. MGM Film Group Chairman Michael De Luca and MGM Film Group President Pamela Abdy had this to say in a joint statement.
“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.”
A Richard Pryor biopic has long been eyed by Hollywood. At one point, a version of the movie was coming together that would have possibly seen Mike Epps taking on the lead role. There is no word yet on who is in the running to play Pryor in this version. It also remains unclear how soon MGM hopes to get production up and running. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as further details are made available. This news was previously reported by Variety.