Blues guitar wizard B.B. King is set to have two films produced about his life, while, Richard Pryor, one of the best American comedians//screen actors of the last century will also get his story on the screen.
But, there seems to have been some confusion about which of the two B.B. King films will be ‘the authentic’ one. The production of the movie where King would be portrayed by The Wire star Wendell Pierce got more attention, but after a request from the B.B. King estate, Pierce issued a clarification on Twitter that this film will “not be a biopic in the traditional sense.” Pierce will star in a film called The Thrill Is On, which focuses on King’s friendship with drummer Michael Zanetis. The actor compared the film to Bertrand Tavernier’s acclaimed 1986 jazz film Round Midnight.
Vassal Benford, the chairman of King’s estate, has told Variety that they will be releasing a biopic of their own, which begins pre-production in 2021. “One is a docudrama, and the other is the official B.B. King biopic approved by the corporate management of the B.B. King estate and trust as a part of B.B. King’s legacy initiative.”
On the other hand, there seems to be no confusion surrounding the biopic about star comedian/actor Richard Pryor. The film will be written and produced by Kenya Barris, the creator of Black-ish, and Jennifer Lee Pryor, the comedian’s widow will be assisting.
As reports say, the project was won by MGM after a heated bidding war between various studios. Barris said that “[t]he way Pryor did what he did — with truth and specificity that was somehow self-aware and self-deprecating, and said with an unmatched level of vulnerability — that was the power and impact of his work, Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created. To me, this is a film about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”