Over the past few years, the American film industry has been taken to task for — let’s call it the “straight white guy”-ness of it all. Women, queer talents, and nonwhite artists have all come out of the woodwork to demand a piece of the pie currently being gobbled up by George Lucas and people who’d fit his general physical profile. One of the more organized expressions of this sea change has been the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, an effort to shame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the disproportionate whiteness of their nominee slate. It’d be hard to argue that it’s been anything other than a force for equitable good, but The Paperboy director Lee Daniels doesn’t quite see it that way.
Hey, remember back in May, when director Lee Daniels dropped out of the long (long, long, long)-developing Richard Pryor biopic? Okay, well, you can forget that ever happened because Daniels is returning to the project, and this time he’s bringing Jay Z with him — as a producer. With production projected to begin in early 2017, it looks like the movie about the iconic late comedian might finally make it to the big screen this time.
A biopic based on the life of the late, great Richard Pryor has been in the works for years, only recently making some legitimate progress with the hiring of director Lee Daniels and actor Mike Epps — who landed the role of the iconic comedian following an exhaustive casting search. But the project has taken a bit of a stumble, as Daniels has been forced to exit the biopic, which is now in need of a new director (again).
FOX’s Empire may not be the same ratings juggernaut as its first season, but that isn’t stopping FOX from re-teaming with creator Lee Daniels for another powerhouse music drama. To wit, Queen Latifah has joined the new female-centric music drama Star, additionally casting the three unknown leads, and adding writers.
After years of struggling to find the right director and — more importantly — the right actor for the Richard Pryor biopic, the film is finally on its way to production, with Lee Daniels at the helm. Back in August, Mike Epps was confirmed for the role of the late Pryor, but the film may be close to casting another iconic comedian as Tracy Morgan is reportedly in talks to play Redd Foxx.
Slipping though its domination of the ratings may be, FOX’s Empire continually commands enough of an audience for creator Lee Daniels to move forward with his next music drama, the Atlanta-set Star. Pre-production on the pilot has already begun, releasing a cast list for the girl group that evidently includes a transgender woman.
The smash success of FOX’s Empire, bolstered by equally impressive debut ratings for Season 2, would inevitably spur talk of a potential spinoff series. We’ve heard a few rumblings before, but talks between FOX and creator Lee Daniels may now be heating up, placing a new Empire on the throne as early as next year, with seeds planted this season.