In his concert film RAW, Eddie Murphy does a killer bit about trying to emulate his stand-up comedy hero, Richard Pryor, at the age of fifteen, and how his material was limited due to his decided lack of life experiences. "My whole act back then was about taking a shit because that's all I had done at fifteen." If you've never seen it, go find it. (I won't embed or link to it here because RAW is a Paramount title. It'll just be disappeared within the hour.)
The entire routine is quotable, but the key line is this: "I wanted to be Richard so bad." Well, Eddie, now you are.
HitFix and Entertainment Weekly are reporting that Fox Searchlight will finance Bill Condon's $25 million biopic RICHARD PRYOR: IS IT SOMETHING I SAID?, for which Murphy will waive his usual eight-figure fee in order to play his lifelong idol. According to HitFix, Condon's screenplay also features significant roles for Pryor's four wives and Redd Foxx. Murphy as Pryor is mindblowing enough; I don't know who the hell you get for Foxx.
This is a fascinating development for several reasons. I don't know where things stood when Pryor passed, but he definitely had a complicated relationship with the young superstar. Murphy, however, was always quick to praise Pryor, so I'm sure he will throw his considerable talents into doing right by the man many consider the greatest stand-up comedian of all time.
If all goes according to plan, the film will begin production this summer and hit theaters in 2010. I cannot wait to see how this turns out. And if this knocks Condon out of producing next year's Oscars (after delivering the most entertaining broadcast I've ever seen), I hope they at least bring back Laurence Mark and Hugh Jackman for another go-round.
According to talkbacker "Zeeglo", EDDIE MURPHY RAW is up at Hulu. Here's an embed.