Director Lee Daniels Exits Weinstein's Richard Pryor Biopic (Exclusive)

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Lee Daniels

The 'Precious' filmmaker's busy schedule is to blame for his departure from the long-gestating project set to star Mike Epps and Oprah Winfrey.

The long-gestating movie about legendary comic Richard Pryor has lost its director. 

Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Precious and Lee Daniels' The Butler, has exited the project, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. The Weinstein Co., which is behind the film (it also released The Butler), is said to have declined to wait further for Daniels' schedule to clear up. He is an executive producer on Fox's smash television drama Empire, and he has another project at the network, Star, that is requiring a significant time commitment.

Weinstein Co., which declined to comment, currently is searching for another helmer and made initial overtures to several filmmakers this weekend. 

Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, from a script by Bill Condon, chronicles the life of the groundbreaking comedian, who rose to prominence in the 1970s, enjoying a film and television career before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The project has been in development in various incarnations for more than a decade (Pryor himself had a hand in it before his death after a heart attack in 2005). The current version has a star-studded cast set, including Mike Epps as Pryor, Oprah Winfrey as his grandmother and Kate Hudson as Pryor's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor.

After languishing in development for years, the project was set to begin filming in March but was delayed in part due to Daniels' busy schedule (he lamented his inability to focus on the project as far back as 2014). The current start of shooting is set for October, but sources say he asked for a further delay and Weinstein Co. wasn't willing to wait. The company expects to keep that start date with a new director.

It's unclear if any castmembers will exit with Daniels or if a new filmmaker will want revisions to the script.  

Daniels is repped by CAA. 

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