TV titan/actress Oprah Winfrey has been tapped to play Richard Pryor's grandmother in the upcoming biopic of the legendary comedian. The Color Purple star is reteaming with filmmaker Lee Daniels in the big screen version of Pryor's life, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Winfrey will play Marie Carter, the grandmother with whom Pryor had an extremely complicated and strained relationship with. Carter ran the brothel where the funnyman grew up, and where his mother Gertrude also worked as a prostitute, but left her family behind when he was just 10 years old.
Winfrey confirmed on Sunday (24Aug14) that actor Mike Epps will play Pryor in the film by posting a photo on Instagram.com of herself along with Epps and director Daniels, alongside the caption, "@theoriginalbigdaddy, @eppsie, and me just finished a great 1st read session. #RichardPryorMovie."
Winfrey and Daniels previously collaborated as co-executive producers of Precious in 2009, and he directed her in Lee Daniels' The Butler last year (13).
Actor and funnyman Mike Epps has been confirmed as the lead in director Lee Daniels' upcoming Richard Pryor biopic. Rapper/actor Nick Cannon was previously linked to the title role, but on Sunday (24Aug14) moviemaker Daniels posted a picture of himself, Oprah Winfrey and Epps on Instagram.com captioned, "and we're off... Get ready y'all for #richardpryor @eppsie @oprah."
The untitled project has been in the works since 2009, with actor Forest Whitaker attached to help bring Pryor's life story to the big screen. He signed on to write the script and also produce the film in March (14), although it is not known if he is still linked to the movie.
Adam Sandler and director Bill Condon were also previously involved in the project before it was shelved in 2011.
Meanwhile, Richard Pryor, Jr. has sent a cease and desist letter to the comedian's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is contributing to the film biopic, urging her to stop work on the project amid a dispute over rights.
Pryor, 65, died in 2005 after suffering a heart attack. He spent years battling multiple sclerosis prior to his death.
Former Lostprophets stars would have killed frontman Ian Watkins if they had realised he was a child molester. Watkins, 36, was convicted of a catalogue of sickening abuse last year (13), including the attempted rape of a baby, and he was sentenced to 35 years behind bars for his crimes.
His bandmates initially hoped the allegations were "all a mistake", but they were horrified when Watkins pleaded guilty, and now they have insisted they would have reacted violently if they had known about the singer's abuse before he was arrested.
Guitarist Lee Gaze tells BBC Newsbeat, "How could you know? How would you know? Who would disclose such a thing to five people who have eight children? You just wouldn't because they would be killed on the spot."
He went on to add that the rest of the band had grown so distant from Watkins that he believes they would have split up regardless of the abuse case, adding, "He was doing his own thing. That just grew worse over the years, the more he was using drugs. He could be in the same city as me and I wouldn't hang out with him, even if we weren't playing shows."
Lostprophets split in the aftermath of Watkins' arrest, and the five remaining bandmates - Gaze, Mike Lewis, Stuart Richardson, Jamie Oliver and Luke Johnson - formed a new group, No Devotion.
Former Lostprophets star Stuart Richardson smashed a platinum record to pieces in anger at frontman Ian Watkins' sickening child sex offences. Watkins was convicted of a number of shocking abuse charges, including the attempted rape of a baby, last year (13). He was sentenced to 35 years behind bars and the band, which formed in Wales in 1997, split shortly after.
Now members Richardson and Lee Gaze have spoken out about their shock and disgust for their disgraced ex-bandmate and the music they made with him.
Speaking to Britain's The Guardian, bassist Richardson explained how he believes their music has been tarnished by Watkins' actions, and he recently vented his fury by smashing an award he received for sales of their hit third album Liberation Transmission.
He says, "I don't know how his badness can't cancel out our music. We had platinum records in our houses, awards. I smashed Liberation Transmission the other day. The rest are in the garage and they'll probably never come out again."
Glaze adds that he will never be able to listen to their material from that time again: "I can't. It's tainted, because he was the voice of the band, and it was his lyrics."
They also reveal how they confronted Watkins in 2012 when his drug taking got out of hand. Glaze adds, "We had an intervention with him to get him off coke, and he denied he was doing it, and then a year later he was addicted to crystal meth. The gigs in 2012 were awful - on tour, he was barely functioning; he'd miss cues for songs and wasn't interacting with (the) audience. He really didn't spend much time with us. I'm quite a loner, anyway, and we weren't close... We were operating on a fractured basis, where we would only get together to do our job."
The pair has since formed a new band, Lost Devotion, with other ex-Lostprophets rockers Mike Lewis, Jamie Oliver and Luke Johnson. Former Thursday star Geoff Rickly is acting as frontman.
The former stars of defunct Welsh rock group Lostprophets have returned to the spotlight as No Devotion to release a new single on Tuesday (01Jul14). The Streets of Nowhere hitmakers split in October (13) shortly before their frontman Ian Watkins pleaded guilty to a string of sickening sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby.
The singer was jailed for 35 years, and his former bandmates - Lee Gaze, Mike Lewis, Stuart Richardson, Jamie Oliver and Luke Johnson - have gone on to form a new group without him.
They returned as No Devotion, fronted by former Thursday star Geoff Rickly, and released their debut single, Stay, on Tuesday. They plan to head out on tour later this month (Jul14).
Country star Trace Adkins has become an official part of Louisiana's music history after he was inducted to his native state's Music Hall of Fame on Saturday (21Jun14). The singer was given a warm welcome home when he brought his summer concert tour to Baton Rouge's Dixie Landin' amusement park, and in the middle of the gig, Mike Shepherd, the president and executive director of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, took to the stage to honour Adkins.
Shepherd presented the You're Gonna Miss This hitmaker with an award and an official statement signed by the state’s governor, Bobby Jindal.
Adkins was born and raised in Sarepta, Louisiana, and even named his band The Sarepta Gentleman's Club after his beloved hometown.
He joins the ranks of fellow Louisiana natives, including Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lee Lewis and Aaron Neville, as Music Hall of Fame members.
The honour is a positive after a string of unfortunate 2014 events for Adkins - in January (14) he checked into rehab in a bid to beat alcoholism, he mourned the death of his father in February, and in March, his third wife filed for divorce to end the couple's 16-year marriage.
Smashing Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne has quit the group. Frontman Billy Corgan has confirmed the news in a new interview, weeks after it was revealed Motley Crue star Tommy Lee has been working with the band on new tracks.
Corgan tells Music Radar, "Let's just say that Mike, like Elvis, has left the building."
Lee plays drums on nine songs on the band's upcoming album Monuments To An Elegy, and recently told Billboard, "I think he (Corgan) has probably the best record he's ever written. These are, like, epic, goose-bump songs."
Further details of Byrne's departure were not available as WENN went to press. The drummer appeared on two Smashing Pumpkins albums - 2009's Teargarden by Kaleidyscope and 2012's Oceania.
Disgraced rocker Ian Watkins' former bandmates in Lostprophets never want to speak to their frontman again after he was convicted of a series of child sex offences at the end of last year (13). Guitarists Lee Gaze and Mike Lewis have labelled the singer's depravity "unbelievable" in a new interview.
Lewis, who grew up with Watkins in Pontypridd, Wales, says, "I tried reading the judge’s report. I couldn’t even finish it. To think that somebody I grew up with, who I had been friends with my entire life, whose mother I knew, and how close our families were... I find it utterly unbelievable that he was capable of doing those things."
Watkins, 36, was jailed for 29 years after admitting a host of child sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby. He pleaded guilty to 13 offences.
LostProphets split weeks before the rock star was sentenced, and the singer's old pal admits he has no interest in visiting Watkins in jail: "I’ve thought about it long and hard and, no, I have no interest in ever speaking to him again.
"I feel incredibly bad for his mother and his whole family and the stigma they have to endure now because of what he’s done and what his actions have done to hurt many people. But I have no interest in questioning him about it. Never."
And in the new Sunday Times Magazine interview, Gaze has described Watkins as a "weak character," adding, "He’s a bit of a coward, not a tough guy by any means. To be in prison, where he’s going to be the guy from the rock band with those charges, I was worried. But then I reached a point where real resentment set in."
He adds, "He spent the longest time trying to convince us that somebody was trying to get revenge on him. He’d created such a web of people, bouncing these women off each other, that it was perfectly feasible that one of these women hated him so much that she wanted to catch him out.
"I thought he was a lot of things - a drug addict, a womaniser - but I never, ever believed that of him. My first assumption was that maybe there was a mistake."
British actor Timothy Spall has been tipped as an early Oscars contender after wowing critics at the Cannes International Film Festival with his portrayal of 19th century painter J.m.w. Turner in director Mike Leigh's new biopic. Mr. Turner, which documents the British artist's rise to prominence from the mid-1820s, premiered at the annual French festival on Thursday (15May14) and it opened to rave reviews, with The Hollywood Reporter's Leslie Felperin feting the Harry Potter star for his "masterful performance", branding the role one he was "born to play".
Awarding the film five out of five stars, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw writes, "Every scene in this film is expertly managed; every comic line and funny moment adroitly presented and every performance given with intelligence and love. It is another triumph for Mike Leigh and for Timothy Spall."
Time Out's Dave Calhoun also gave Mr. Turner top marks, declaring it "an extraordinary film, all at once strange, entertaining, thoughtful and exciting", while The Telegraph's Robbie Collin hailed Spall for giving what is probably "the finest performance of his career", and Variety's Scott Foundas predicts the "exquisitely detailed, brilliantly-acted biopic" is "a natural awards contender".
The high praise for Mr. Turner, Leigh's first feature film in four years, has made the movie a hot favourite to win Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or award, which will be handed out later this month (May14). Other movies in competition include Ken Loache's Jimmy's Hall, David Cronenberg's Map to the Stars and The Homesman, directed by actor Tommy Lee Jones.
The former members of Welsh rockers Lostprophets are working on new music under a different name following the child abuse conviction of frontman Ian Watkins. The Streets of Nowhere hitmakers split in October (13), shortly before Watkins pleaded guilty to a string of sickening sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby, telling fans they could "no longer continue making or performing music as Lostprophets".
The singer was jailed for 35 years in December (13), and now the remaining members of the band - Lee Gaze, Mike Lewis, Stuart Richardson, Jamie Oliver and Luke Johnson - have reunited to start anew.
They have teamed up with ex-Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly to record new music for his Collect Records company, although he is only working with them as their label boss.
Discussing the new project, he says, "I think if ever there was a group of people that needed a second chance, it's those guys - and they're going to take full advantage of it. People don't really think of what happens to the other members. That took away their life. What happened is just devastating for them.
"It's been my honour to work with them on their new band from a label perspective. People are not going to know what hit them when the new band comes out. It's like everything I grew up on: a little bit of New Order, a little bit of Joy Division, little bit of The Cure. It's just so forward-thinking."
The name of the new group has yet to be announced.