If you’ve had enough of Kenya Barris, 2020 is really not your year.
The Black-ish creator is slated to make his directorial debut with a much-anticipated Richard Pryor biopic, which MGM landed in a “heated film rights auction,” writes Deadline.
Barris will write and direct the biopic of the iconic comedian, widely considered to be among America’s most influential performers and creative minds.
“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, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
A feature film about the actor and stand-up comic has been a long time coming. As Deadline reports, the Weinstein Company came close to producing a star-studded Pryor film in 2016:
The Weinstein Company and Pryor’s widow Jennifer teamed with director Lee Daniels on a script by Bill Condon and Danny Strong that was going to star Mike Epps as Pryor, with Oprah Winfrey playing Pryor’s grandmother, who ran a brothel and raised the iconic comic there; Eddie Murphy as Pryor’s father, Leroy “Buck Carter” Pryor, and Kate Hudson to play Pryor’s widow, Jennifer. The film never made it to the start line.
Jennifer Lee Pryor will be involved in the MGM film as a producer. She lauded Barris’ addition to the project, telling THR, “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.”