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Richard Pryor’s Son Moves to Block Production of Lee Daniels’ Biopic on the Legendary Comedian

Richard Pryor's Son Moves to Block Production of Lee Daniels' Biopic on the Legendary Comedian

As I noted in previous posts on the developing project, the film is being made with input from Richard Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, so I’ve always assumed that this wouldn’t be one of those troubled, drama-filled biopic productions made without the approval/blessing of the subject’s family.

It looks like I spoke too soon.

In news that has become all-too common when it comes to films based on the lives of real-life public figures, Richard Pryor’s son has threatened legal action in a move to block production on Lee Daniels’ in-development film about the legendary comic.

Lawyers representing Richard Pryor, Jr. have reportedly sent a cease and desist letter to the Pryor’s (the father’s) widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is involved in the making of the film. The letter, obtained by TMZ, insists that all work on the project stop, accusing Jennifer Lee (his stepmother) of using “illegal, fraudulent” activity to obtain the rights to her husband’s (his father’s) name. Pryor Jr. is also reportedly threatening to take legal action, if the biopic does moves forward.

No comment yet from Jennifer Lee nor Lee Daniels in response to the son’s statements.

Earlier this month, Nick Cannon all-but confirmed in a video interview with TMZ, that he will play Richard Pryor Lee Daniels’ film. 

Cannon initially stirred up rumors of his involvement, via his Instagram page a few weeks ago, and was asked about those rumors during an appearance on TMZ Live.

Thus far, Daniels has not spoken about the project, nor about Cannon’s casting.

And no word on whether Forest Whitaker is still involved in a producer capacity (he came on-board the project a year ago).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that, last year saw the release of what was dubbed the definitive documentary on Pryor’s life, directed by Marina Zenovich (known mostly for directing the multiple award-winning 2008 documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”).

Jennifer Lee Pryor was also producer of the doc, giving director Marina Zenovich access to estate photos and other materials, as many of Pryor’s friends and family opened up for the project, which focused on Pryor’s transformation from successful but mild stand-up comedian, to successful but dangerous social critic. 

Titled “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” the doc was broadcast on Showtime last fall, as part of a new documentary series showcase titled “Closeup,” which gives 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 described it.

In the video below, watch Pryor’s son talk to TMZ about the film, including his casting preference.

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D.C. Kirkwood

It's nice to hear his point of view about this father's biopic. I know family members can be difficult and some can be greedy. But as a moviegoer who isn't a die hard Richard Pryor fan, that fact that he supports Nick Cannon means something to me. The family should give their input. Not that it should necessarily stop the movie from moving forward but as MARIE, stated in her comment. A lot of people do these biopics because they are any easy road to getting award recognition. Unfortunately, I feel the same is true with Angela Bassett. Why do a movie based off Whitney and Bobby's wild relationship and not on Whitney's life as a singer? Her motives seem suspect? JMO


The current pedigree of this film–Daniels and Cannon–is sufficient to lose my interest. Again, people are overly focused on biopics purely because they're an easy path to Oscar. I'd rather see the documentary.

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