Kenya Barris will make his feature directorial debut with a biopic about comedian Richard Pryor.
According to Deadline, Barris will direct for MGM, who won the film rights at a highly-contested auction. The film will be produced by Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor via her production company, Tarnished Angel, and Barris via his production company, Khalabo Ink Society. Levantine Films’ Tory Metzger will also produce with Adam Rosenberg executive producing.
“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,” Barris said 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.”
Lee Pryor also said in a statement that she is “excited” by the prospect of having “the mystery of [Pryor’s] genius” put on screen. “Kenya Barris is the perfect person to do it,” she continued. “Richard and Kenya are creative brothers.”
This project is a different one from the 2016 film project that had Mike Epps attached to play Pryor. Lee Daniels was set to direct that film with a cast including Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy and Kate Hudson. Recently, Epps reached out to Barris via Instagram to try to get a film about Pryor back on the board.
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