Less than eight months ago, it was confirmed that Eddie Murphy would play the lead role in Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, a biopic about the legendary comedian. Bill Condon, who directed Murphy to an Oscar nomination in Dreamgirls, wrote the screenplay and was set to direct. The film was going to be made at Paramount, the studio behind Dreamgirls. Murphy used to do a killer impression of Pryor in his stand-up act. It seemed like the perfect plan.

But then -- record scratch! -- everything fell apart. Entertainment Weekly reported late Tuesday night that Murphy had left the project "over conflicts with Paramount," and that now Paramount is gone, too. Condon is still directing, but the film will now be produced by Sony Pictures and Happy Madison Productions (Adam Sandler's company). And the new Richard Pryor? Marlon Wayans.

The Wayans family name has been sullied in recent years by such travesties as White Chicks, Little Man, and Dance Flick, all of which Marlon Wayans co-wrote and appeared in. But don't forget: He can do legitimate acting, too. His performance in the harrowing Requiem for a Dream in 2000 was widely praised, and his acting muscles apparently haven't atrophied since then. Producers on the Richard Pryor flick were reportedly blown away by his 13-minute audition tape, in which EW says he "transformed into Pryor." So while at first blush this might sound like a poor choice in casting, the filmmakers have seen Wayans' screen test and we haven't, and it's apparently pretty amazing.


The film is supposed to go into production next spring, probably with a Christmas 2010 release date in mind if Sony thinks it has Oscar potential. Do you think we should trust Condon and company about Wayans' abilities? Are you heartbroken that Eddie Murphy isn't involved? Of course, if Murphy had starred, he probably would have played both Pryor and Pryor's obese, sassy grandmother, so maybe it's just as well.
CATEGORIES Casting, Cinematical