Story By: G. H. HARDING
Mike Epps

PRYOR NEWS --- Two words, five times over: Harvey Weinstein; Mike Epps; Oprah Winfrey ; Lee Daniel; and, Richard Pryor. Seems like the biopic of the legendary comic is finally getting a green light with Weinstein at the helm .

Seems Harvey Scissorhands wants it in the Oscar race for next year, or the year following . . . and, one thing seems to be for sure: Marlon Wayans doesn't seem to be on board to play Richard (despite his recently-leaked audition tape as Pryor) . . . time will tell, perhaps.

Oprah is provisionally set as Pryor's bordello-running madam of a grandmother, Mama, as Pryor affectionately called her, and the lifeline in so many ways for Richard from youth until when he lost her around 1977 - 1978, just a few weeks before he made his groundbreaking first Live in Concert film.

Many still believe that Pryor immolated himself with alcohol and lit the match over the grief he still felt after losing his grandmother . . . and by the way, the 1981 film Bustin’ Loose has various fire-related scenes and subplots running through the film; if ever there was a foreshadowing of a star's undoing at his own hand contained in a film, that was it . . . very strange ironies at play there on that one.

This should be an explosive film, from start to finish. Not since Lenny Bruce (remember him?) has there been a personality like Pryor. Stay tuned!

WE ARE ALL SPOCK --- The passing of Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy last Friday is just so so sad. Growing up watching him on the original Trek-series on NBC was just so unforgettable. Whereas the character Kirk was the swashbuckling alpha male, Nimoy’s Spock was very definitely the conscience of the show.

Even Obama commented on Nimoy’s passing saying, "I loved Spock. In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'Live long and prosper. And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – its clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today."

Believe it or not, I watched the J. J. Abrams Star Trek movie over the weekend and was surprised by just how much Nimoy was in it. Truth be told, he gave that first Abrams re-boot the soul and the credibility … without his presence, it would have been just another re-make.

Zachary Quinto, who took over the role of Spock in the Star Trek reboot and acted alongside Nimoy in two films thanks to the films' time-twisting plot lines, said, "My heart is broken. I love you profoundly my dear friend. And I will miss you every day. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Several reports commented on his amazing career; from pet shop owner to acting teacher … he virtually did it all. I even enjoyed him on the Mission Impossible series as, the master of disguise, Paris.

He and Shatner also appeared on an episode of The Man from UNCLE TV series (The Project Strigis Affair, November 1964) two years before Trek hit. And, they showed the same camaraderie that they eventually did on Trek.

Much of been made of Shatner not being able to attend yesterday’s funeral, due to a prior commitment for a Red Cross event. Me … I bet even the Red Cross were surprised. From what I've heard about the Shat over the years; I am not surprised ... but, very saddened.

Nimoy was the heart and soul of the show. Terrific actor, he will be missed. LLAP Leonard!

SMITH ON TOP --- Will Smith’s Focus movie topped the weekend box office charts with $19.1 million, but the heist film, which we loved btw, didn’t make off with as much loot as many analysts expected.

The film had been expected to earn between 21 million to 23 million. And, breathless stories about whether or not Smith’s fastball has lost some heat, began almost immediately.

The debate may be excessive, but does point out a developing story in the entertainment field: Focus shows the limits of star power generally, but, not Smith’s particularly.

Charisma lacks the punch it did ten years, particularly given that advances in digital technology and the growth of fan boy culture mean that films can’t just be films any more to succeed at a high level. They must be events. Would Focus have performed better had George Clooney starred in it or Brad Pitt?

Focus, released by Warner Bros., cost $50.1 million to produce and debuted in 3,323 locations. It ranks as Smith’s second weakest debut in ten years, behind Seven Pounds”and its $14.8 million opening.

It’s not an typical Smith-action movie; rather showing him in a nuanced, atmospheric performance. Definitely worth checking out.

CLOSING NOTES --- Did you catch SNL this past weekend, with the lead sketch being host Dakota Johnson essaying a daughter, whose father has driven her to the airport, for her new job with ISIS? Funny? I didn't think so and felt it was very definitively in very poor taste. I thought Johnson was good, but totally let down by the writing …

Kelly Osbourne leaving E’s Fashion Police because of Giuliana Rancic’s patchouli and weed joke? Crazy. That joke was written for her. I never really watched the show because I couldn't ever take it really seriously. I mean, Fashion Police ... what's that even mean? The late-Joan Rivers was funny … but, let’s cancel this show (and, The View) right now …

Tickets for the three Grateful Dead re-union shows in July at Chicago’s Soldier Field later this year are selling for $15,000 each … and the shows are almost sold out? Crazy. Not a fan, I well remember seeing them years back at Madison Square Garden … and, walking through steady stream of beer on the floor, to my seats. Lovely!