Producer/Director Lee Daniels has a red hot hit on his hands with FOX’s TV drama Empire. Daniels is not afraid of the heat–his Oscar magnet Precious got people steamed, The Butler held audiences over the fire, and The Paperboy nearly self-immolated.
But nothing Lee Daniels has touched will be as inflammatory as his next project, a biopic of the richly tragic life of comedian Richard Pryor. Pryor is probably best known–despite all his groundbreaking, heartbreaking comedy–as the performer who set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. Mike Epps will play Pryor–an inspired choice, and a brave one for Epps. But all eyes will be on Oprah Winfrey, whose transition from billionaire chat queen to movie star could be fully consummated by this film. Oprah will play Marie, Pryor’s grandmother who he called “Mama” and who ran the Peoria whorehouses Richard Pryor grew up in.