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12/18/2005

 
Celebrities and Family Members Reflect on Life of Richard Pryor in BET News Special Salute

Comedian Dave Chappelle Breaks His Controversial Silence to Celebrate Pryor's Influence and Address Issues Around His Own Career

BET News Special 'Richard Pryor: The Funniest Man Dead or Alive' Premieres Monday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard Pryor's ground-breaking, irreverent style of comedy created hysterical laughter laced with race, sex, drugs, adult language and controversy. Before his death last week at age 65, Pryor inspired multiple generations of comedians who have pushed the envelope of their art form in his image. BET will honor the memory of Pryor in a celebrity-filled BET News special 'Richard Pryor: The Funniest Man Dead or Alive' premiering Monday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT with an encore showing at 11 p.m. ET/PT. BET News personality Jacque Reid hosts this poignant salute to the talented comedian and actor.

In a BET News exclusive, comedian Dave Chappelle breaks his controversial silence to honor Pryor's legacy, and to address speculation on the status of his own career in the aftermath of abruptly leaving his hit series on Comedy Central for a season. Chappelle's interview on his career will run during BET News interstitial news briefs and in longer form at www.BET.com.

On Richard Pryor: Funniest Man Dead or Alive, Chappelle joins fellow joke masters Chris Tucker, Dick Gregory, Wanda Sykes, Paul Mooney, Mike Epps, Tracey Morgan, Mo'Nique, Charlie Murphy, Alex Thomas, Steve Harvey and Saturday Night Live Executive Producer Lorne Michaels in paying homage to Pryor's greatness. Pryor's wife and caregiver Jennifer Lee Pryor, former wife Flynn Pryor, children Stephen Pryor and Kelsey Pryor and former bodyguard Rashaun Khan will also share rare and personal anecdotes, along with special reflections by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

BET will further extend its salute to Pryor with a showing of one of the comedian's most critically-acclaimed films Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling, which premieres Thursday, December 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The following are excerpts from comments about Pryor featured in Monday's BET News special:

Dave Chappelle:

"The hardest thing to do is to stand up and talk in front of people. People equate that to death. It might be second only to death as far as fears of people. But he did it in a way that was so courageous and left himself so vulnerable that you couldn't not like a person like this."

Chris Tucker:

"Richard Pryor was a big part of my life. He influenced me in a lot of ways. Growing up and watching him on TV as a little kid and then in the movies, he inspired me to do standup comedy and eventually do movies. I remember watching him in 'Stir Crazy.' And I couldn't wait to see him on the screen. When he was walking down in the prison scene saying "we bad," I used to go crazy. I said 'when I do movies,' I want to come on screen like that. I want to make sure the audience can't wait until I'm on screen."

Dick Gregory:

"He told jokes but it came out of the Black experience. Even if he told about the White House, about the President, it would come out the way a black person talking in the tavern or in the bar. He did not try to relate to white folks from a white vernacular . . . He brought something to that venue. From his childhood. From growing up. It could have been from experiences of marriage. And he was frightened. He was so bashful and timid -- until that light came on. But you watched him develop and develop from just a comic to a good comic and then that genius just exploded."

Jesse Jackson:

"He would curse not because he had limited material but because it was a form of punctuation and it's the kind of stuff that people would cringe at in public and then go buy the record. It was the Redd Foxx tradition . . . He was on the edge and I can not tell you the risk he took as a comedian. All great comedians for the most part, take those risks pushing the envelope."

BET NEWS SPECIAL - RICHARD PRYOR: THE FUNNIEST MAN DEAD OR ALIVE

SCHEDULE: Monday, December 19 @ 7:30 p.m. & 11 p.m. ET/PT

HOSTS: Jacque Reid and Toure

BET EXECUTIVES
IN CHARGE: Reginald Hudlin, President of Entertainment
Nina Henderson Moore, Executive Vice President - News &
Public Affairs

BET PRODUCERS: Selwyn Hinds, Executive Producer
Nelson George, Consulting Producer
Dara Roach, Supervising Producer
P. Frank Williams, Producer
Abbie Kearse, Producer
Alisia Powell, Producer
Marylinn Minor, Senior Coordinating Producer

ABOUT BET

BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE:VIA) (NYSE:and) (NYSE:VIA.B) , is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks - BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; and BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production.

Source: BET (Black Entertainment Television)

CONTACT: Michael Lewellen, 202-608-2003, or michael.lewellen@bet.net

Web site: http://www.bet.com/




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