Kenya Barris to make directorial debut with Richard Pryor biopic

'I am excited that the mystery of his genius is finally going to be explored.'

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris will make his feature directorial debut with a biopic about late-great comedian Richard Pryor.

Barris will direct the project for MGM and produce along with Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor via her production company, Tarnished Angel. Tory Metzger of Levantine Films is also onboard to produce with Adam Rosenberg executive producing, per Shadow and Act

“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.”

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Said Jennifer Lee Pryor, “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.”

Barris’ Pryor biopic is separate from the 2016 film with Mike Epps portraying the comic legend. Lee Daniels was tapped direct the film which also had Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy and Kate Hudson attached to co-star.

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MGM reportedly won the film rights to the Richard Pryor story at a highly-contested auction.

“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,” said Michael De Luca, MGM Film Group Chairman and Pamela Abdy, MGM Film Group President.

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