TV Article

Pryor Engagement

Richard Pryor plans autobiographical cable sitcom. The ailing comedian's show will star a young actor as a Pryor-like character, with plots based on his old routines

Richard Pryor, whose unflinchingly candid stories about himself made for unforgettable stand-up comedy routines in the 1970s, will get to tell those stories again, this time in sitcom form. According to Variety, his old routines will serve as source material for ''Pryor Offenses,'' a scripted series that will center on a young, up-and-coming comic who is engaged to a sophisticated African-American attorney while conducting an affair with an earthy white woman who owns a comedy club. In keeping with the R-rated content of Pryor's material, the series will air on Showtime.

Called ''Pryor Offenses,'' the show will be co-produced by Jennifer Lee Pryor, the comedian's current wife and manager, and former ''Mad About You'' writer Bill Grundfest. Pryor tells Variety that Grundfest approached her with an outline of 13 episodes. ''Bill has created a brilliant way of turning Richard's material and characters into a... comedy of pain,'' she said. ''It's a show designed to make you laugh till you cry and cry till you laugh.''

The show will be set in the present day, but Grundfest said,. ''I haven't had to do anything to update his material. His problems, his pain, the center of his standup is just as cutting edge today as it was back then. He was able to make us laugh about stuff that was really painful.''

Now 62, Richard Pryor has kept a low profile in recent years, due to his multiple sclerosis. In 2000, Jennifer Lee Pryor produced a nine-CD boxed set retrospective containing 25 years worth of his material.

Originally posted Feb 27, 2003
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