Barris will also produce the movie, along with Jennifer Lee Pryor.
A biopic of boundary-breaking comedian Richard Pryor is in the works with Kenya Baris set to write and direct.
Pryor’s work spanned television, film and stand-up with credits that include Blazing Saddles, The Richard Pryor Show and Pryor’s Place. He was the first recipient of the Mark Twain Humor Prize for humor and earned numerous Emmys, WGA Awards and Grammys.
MGM landed the project in a competitive situation.
Barris will also produce the movie via his Khalabo Ink Society, along with Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor and her Tarnished Angel and Tory Metzger for Levantine Films. Adam Rosenberg will executive produce.
“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. “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.”
Added 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 has a lucrative first-look television deal with Netflix and most recently released #BlackAF with the streamer. He is represented by CAA, Artists First and Morris Yorn.