by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief
Director Lee Daniels has exited The Richard Pryor biopic set to star Mike Epps as the volcanic comedic legend. The official word from The Hollywood Reporter is that Daniels’ busy schedule due to his TV smash hit Empire and upcoming Star is the reason for The Weinstein Company moving on from the Precious (Based on the novel Push by Sapphire) director .
If it feels like this project has been kicking around forever, it’s because it has. Mike Epps originally won the job back in 2005, when Warriors director Walter Hill was writing and directing. Pryor himself was directly involved with that project prior to his death. The project fell apart, but soon rose again with Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon coming onboard to write and direct with Marlon Wayans set to star as Pryor.
Things really seemed to be making progress when Daniels come on as director in 2014. Epps won the job back after a long casting process that had Eddie Murphy, Michael B. Jordan, Nick Cannon and Marlon Wayans all vying for the role as well. Beside Epps, Daniels assembled an all-star cast icluding Oprah Winfrey as brothel owner “Grandma” who raised Pryor (Pryor’s biological mother worked for Grandma), Eddie Murphy as Pryor’s father, Kate Hudson as Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor and Tracy Morgan as Comedian Redd Foxx.
No word on how this will affect the film. I would be willing to bet that TWC is going to work to aggressively fill the position, so as not to lose the forward progress the film has had over the last year.