BBC ‘Storyville’ has come onboard a documentary commissioned by U.S. net Showtime about the life of late comedian Richard Pryor (pictured), which is being made by filmmaker Marina Zenovich.
The as-yet-untitled film is being directed by Zenovich, best known for her doc Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, and produced by Roy Ackerman. The BBC expects delivery either later this year or early next year, although Showtime said it did not yet have an airdate for the doc.
Talking to realscreen in Cannes, BBC ‘Storyville’ editor Nick Fraser said it had taken a long time to get Pryor’s family to sign off on making a film about his life.
“We’ve wanted to do a film on him for a long time,” he said, adding that the film will feature “a lot of great archive” material.
Fraser also said that he expected the film to be quite dark. Although widely respected for his contribution to the world of stand-up comedy, Pryor’s life was filled with conflict, strife and controversy.
He struggled with drug abuse and was married seven times, to five different women. He also suffered multiple heart attacks and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, leaving him wheelchair bound in later life, before his death in 2005.
In one of his most notorious incidents, he set himself on fire in 1980 after taking cocaine while drinking 151-proof rum, resulting in burns covering more than half of his body.
Nevertheless, he is frequently cited for being both a comedic genius, having won an Emmy, five Grammys and a Writers Guild of America Award; and a major influence on subsequent African American comedians, such as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan.