Strange that this debuts tomorrow on Showtime, but there
doesn’t seem to be a lot of press leading up to it. Unless I’ve just missed all
Director Marina Zenovich was given access to estate photos and other materials, and many of Pryor’s friends and family opened up for the project, which will focus on Pryor’s transformation from successful but mild stand-up comedian to successful but dangerous social critic.
The turning point happens in Las Vegas, where Pryor no longer feels comfortable in his own skin, for taking the safe route of punch-line comedy while leaving his past buried. “He just really got to see what the world was about,” says Jennifer Lee Pryor. “He was making good money. It was a case of learning from an answered prayer: ‘I got what I wanted. But what is it? Who am I?'” Pryor answered that last question with brutal honesty in his new brand of no holds barred stage humor. It rocketed him to superstardom, before the fire and fall. At that point, as therapy for his suicide attempt, he began writing a journal, which he kept private. The journal was used in the documentary, for the first time ever. “I think it allows insight,” his widow says, without offering specifics, for now. “I think it’s definitely meant to show publicly. There’s private stuff in there. But Richard was a very public person.”
The completed film, which will be broadcast on Showtime as part of a new documentary series showcase titled Closeup, which will give measured and complex looks at the lives of several notable public figures, with Richard Pryor being among the first to be “provocatively studied,” as Showtime describes it.
The film also includes interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks, Quincy Jones, Lily Tomlin, Jesse Jackson and more.
No official trailer yet, but 2 new clips have surfaced, and are embedded below: