Jay Z Working on Kalief Browder Documentary, Richard Pryor Biopic
This morning, Jay Z and the Weinstein Company held a press conference to detail some forthcoming projects from their recently announced partnership. There’s no Streets Is Watching remake, but there will be a six-part documentary focused on the wrongfully imprisoned Kalief Browder, and a biopic on legendary comedian Richard Pryor.
Browder was sent to Rikers Island at 16 years old and spent three years—two in solitary confinement—in the facility despite not being convicted of a crime. He committed suicide in 2015, following several attempts to end his life. In the press conference, Jay Z recalled how reading the New Yorker story about Browder made him want to do a project around his life story. The series, entitled Time: The Kalief Browder Story, is set to premiere January on Spike.
“Kalief Browder is a modern-day prophet; his story a failure of the judicial process,” Jay Z said to the Hollywood Reporter. “A young man, and I emphasize young man, who lost his life because of a broken system. His tragedy has brought atrocities to light and now we must confront the issues and events that occurred so other young men can have a chance at justice.”
Jay Z, who was featured in a recent New York Times segment detailing the failure of the War on Drugs, also gave his opinions on the police brutality epidemic that’s again become a focal point this year. He said he opposed body cameras (“A camera can’t fix a relationship between a person that’s hired to protect and serve and society.”) and talked about how to fix the relationship between the police and the public.
“It’s a story of compassion and empathy,” he said, according to Fader. “In order for us to move forward, this conversation needs to move forward. It’s just life. Where we are right now is, just imagine a metaphor: If you’re going down a road and the sign says ‘End Of The Road 15 Feet’ and you take your car and you just barrel pass it, you know some point you’re going to go off a cliff.
“It’s not a political issue, it’s a human issue,” he continued.
Not much all that much was said about the Pryor biopic, though. The film, entitled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said, is set to begin filming in 2017 after years of false starts. Empire’s Lee Daniels will direct a cast that features Mike Epps as Pryor, along with Oprah Winfrey and Kate Hudson.
“There’s nothing more commercial than Richard Pryor,” Jay said. “His story is an American story.”