Lee Daniels will return as director of the upcoming Jay Z-produced Richard Pryor biopic, Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?. Weinstein Company head Harvey Weinstein announced the news at a press conference Thursday.
Jay Z and Weinstein were on hand to discuss their upcoming Spike TV docuseries about Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old who was imprisoned on Rikers Island for three years without conviction and later took his own life after his release. Later in the press conference, Weinstein touched on Is It Something I Said?, which Daniels left in May. At the time, there were no specific reasons given for Daniels’ departure, nor did Weinstein discuss why the director was able to return at the press conference.
“I can tell you that Jay is going to produce the Richard Pryor movie with Lee Daniels directing,” Weinstein said. “Each time, I think you’ll see these projects be something that hit the cultural zeitgeist. One day we’ll find something really commercial now to do. But not now.”
Jay then jumped in, first chiding Weinstein by noting, “You don’t get more commercial [than Pryor],” then discussing the comedian’s vast influence. “His story is an American story,” the rapper said. “You’ll understand how many lives he’s touched, from every single comedian to rappers like Biggie Smalls, who I won’t recite the lyric because we’ve got Ms. Browder in the audience. But y’all know the lyrics.” (On “Me and My Bitch,” Biggie paraphrased Pryor’s “Wino and Junkie” routine with the line, “You look so good huh, I suck on your daddy’s dick.”)
Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? will star Mike Epps as the comedian, Eddie Murphy as his abusive father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor, and Oprah Winfrey as his brothel-running grandmother, Marie Carter. Kate Hudson has also signed on to play Pryor’s fourth (and, after divorcing and then remarrying, seventh and final) wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, while Oscar-winner Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey, Chicago) is writing the script.
Additional reporting by Kory Grow