Forest Whitaker takes his daughters shopping at Urban Outfitters in Studio City, California on March 17, 2013
*The long-gestating Richard Pryor biopic is starting over from scratch with Forest Whitaker now in charge.
Fresh from producing the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner “Fruitvale,” Whitaker has taken over the nearly two-decade effort to bring the legendary comic’s life of the big screen, reports Deadline.com.
Whitaker is teaming with the late comic’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, to produce the film through his Significant Productions shingle. Whitaker will develop a new script with input from Jennifer Pryor, and Significant Productions’ Nina Yang-Bongiovi, will also produce.
The Pryor biopic has been attempted numerous times, and the most recent version had Bill Condon poised to direct Marlon Wayans in the starring role for Sony Pictures, where Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison had set the project. Condon was certainly passionate about Pryor, but everything took a back seat when he signed on to helm the final two “Twilight Saga” installments. The project languished.
The first Pryor project was a Martin Scorsese-directed drama to star Damon Wayans, this well before Pryor died in 2005. Later, there was a Showtime pic that was to star Eddie Griffin and another attempt at a feature that was to star Mike Epps with Kasi Lemmons directing.
Condon’s first flirtation had Eddie Murphy briefly interested, and then Chris Rock was briefly in the conversation.
The question now is, who will be Whitaker’s Richard Pryor?
Deadline.com’s Mike Fleming Jr. thinks he should look no further than his “Fruitvale” star, Michael B. Jordan, “who by all accounts crushed it in that film.”
Fleming writes: “Jordan, who grew up playing roles in ‘The Wire’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ before starring in ‘Chronicle,’ certainly has the charisma and should be established enough as the lead on a modestly budgeted film after The Weinstein Company releases ‘Fruitvale’ later this year.”