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Richard Pryor makes an elusive but powerful subject in Marina Zenovich's 'Omit the Logic'
An erratic but often spectacular comic was a challenging figure to explain, says Showtime filmmaker
By David Hinckley / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 2:00 AM
Groundbreaking comedian Richard Pryor is profiled in ‘Omit the Logic.’
Marina Zenovich likes making documentaries on fascinating people, and she admits that after she finished her Emmy-winning Roman Polanski film, “Wanted and Desired,” she felt a certain anxiety.
“I was wondering,” she says, “what I could find that would match Polanski.”
Then someone suggested Richard Pryor.
That was the right answer.
Zenovich’s “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” which premieres at 8 p.m. Friday on Showtime, explores the life of one of the most troubled and brilliant comedians of the last 50 years.
It was a “daunting” task, Zenovich admits, because while Pryor left a huge legacy of recordings, videos, films and ex-wives, he didn’t leave much overt navel-gazing.
“I think he was very introspective,” says Zenovich. “But off-stage he was also very private.”
So there are clips from talk shows, but they tend to be witty repartee, not someone talking about how he developed the ability to tell a story, or the radar that enabled him to find the rawest nerves.
“I became a fan after seeing his concert film when I was in high school,” says Zenovich. “What I remember was the energy I felt.
“You never tire of looking at him, or hearing those long stories and waiting to find where he was taking them.
“Just look at him at the end of a show — he’s drenched with sweat.”
Zenovich talked with dozens of people who knew or admired Pryor, like comedians Robin Williams, Paul Mooney and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as ex-wives and business associates.
He drove many of them nuts.
“He never wanted to feel trapped,” says Zenovich. “That’s why, the minute he got married, he wanted out.
“His movie contracts actually included a clause that said he could walk off the set ‘X’ number of times during the filming.”
Zenovich says her interviews also convinced her that for all Pryor’s success and fame, “he was a lonely man. One man talked about going to Richard’s house in the Valley on a Sunday afternoon and finding himself sitting there all by himself, watching ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ ”
“Omit the Logic” recounts in detail the night Pryor lit himself on fire and almost died. It duly notes his financial lurches and a string of bad movies.
It doesn’t end up feeling sad, though, because it includes so much of the material that made Pryor a comedy icon and because it finds a fragile core under the oversized celebrity persona.
“I came away from this thinking I would love to have met him, God yes,” says Zenovich. “I loved him, despite his flaws, because he was so human. In a world where authenticity doesn’t seem to matter to many people, he was authentic.”http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/t ... jcRI576TUI
Richard the great
After seeing no black actors in sci-fi movies of the day, Pryor realized, ‘White people ain’t planning for us to be here.’
By LARRY GETLEN
Last Updated: 3:43 AM, May 28, 2013
Posted: 11:02 PM, May 27, 2013
He was a pioneer, drug addict, civil rights leader, violent wild man, and one of the funniest comedians of all time.
Showtime’s new documentary, “Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic,” which airs Friday at 9, tells Pryor’s tale in all its tragic complexity.
Jennifer Lee Pryor, the comedian’s two-time wife — she’s identified in the film as “Wife # 4 & 7” — and one of the film’s executive producers, spoke candidly to The Post about the comic legend, including how life at home could be both wonderful and a living nightmare.
“To tell you the truth, it was a thrill a minute,” says Pryor, who first met the comic in 1977. “Living one week with Richard Pryor would be the equivalent to living 25 years in Kansas with somebody [else]. It was intense.”
CRAZY: Richard Pryor did not hide the scars from his drug escapades.
Pryor was raised in a bordello by a prostitute mother and pimp father. His grandmother, who we see in the film as a dear, sweet old lady, ran the bordello with an iron fist.
With those influences, his life was affected in predictable ways, including bouts of addiction to freebase cocaine.
Pryor began his career in the ’60s playing nightclub with an act that was so close to Bill Cosby’s that Cosby had to tell him to stop.
Pryor started to feel that he was betraying himself with his material — jokes with no personal relevance — and eventually had a meltdown on a Las Vegas stage where he insulted the audience.
After that, he drastically altered his act and his image, ditched suits for street clothes, abandoned Vegas, and began talking about the harsh realities of race at that time.
Early clips show Pryor in the middle of a set when a white man in the back menacingly bellows, “You just be glad I have a sense of humor.”
“I am glad,” Pryor replied, “Because I’ve seen what you do to us.”
Pryor was comedy’s gift to the 1970s.
“I watched the movie ‘Logan’s Run,’ ” went one bit about the futuristic 1976 drama starring Brit actor Michael York.
“There ain’t no ni--ers in it. I said, ‘White people ain’t planning for us to be here.’ That’s why we gotta make movies.”
From a personal standpoint, Jennifer says that when Richard was off drugs, he was a loving and thoughtful husband.
“One birthday, he hid presents all over the house, like an easter egg hunt,” she says. “No assistant found these. He shopped for them. He bought me a beautiful cloisonné egg that had a full moon. It was in gold and lapis and it had a moon above it, and he said, ‘This is a symbol of our love.’”
But when Richard Pryor succumbed to drugs, Jekyll became Hyde. One incident that happened when he was high on freebase cocaine in 1980 became part of comedy lore.
“Richard told me he was gonna hurt himself,” she says. “Richard never threatened without following through. Never. I knew he was f---ing serious. I got the f--- out of Dodge.”
Later that day, Pryor set himself on fire in a highly-publicized incident that revealed how out of control the comedian was.
Pryor went back and forth like that until he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986, the beginning of a slow decline that ended with his death in 2005.
“I think the darkness [in his life] was overwhelming, and he examined it in his work,” Jennifer says.
“Richard’s life was his work and his work was his life, and that comes with the territory. Genius is not free.”