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"Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic" leaves out a little of the man too

It's no surprise Richard Pryor was the first recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor. The comic is revered by comedians for his profane and searingly honest take on everything -- life, love, his pain, race, gender. My father once told me he saw Pryor live and folks were laughing so hard they were begging him to stop; the audience was choking and gasping for air. To paraphrase one of his album titles, that Negro was crazy!

That aspect of Pryor is evident in "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic" (9 tonight, Showtime), a documentary on his life, his humor and his career. It's an engaging piece that offers those less familiar with him a good sense of his importance. But it's a mostly surface work that leaves questions for fans.

The film is told through footage -- some never before seen -- plus stories and observations from people who knew and observed him. Among the well-known names are comics George Lopez, Bob Newhart, Richard Belzer, Dave Chappelle, co-writer Paul Mooney; family includes his 4th and 7th wife Jennifer Lee Pryor (who is also an executive producer as Pryor's widow) and Richard Pryor Jr.; and colleagues/friends like Durham native Thom Mount, the former president of Universal Pictures where Pryor made most of his hit films like "Stir Crazy."

What unfolds is the tale of a sensitive boy who grew up in a rough environment, raised by a steel-tough but loving grandmother who was a madam, mother and aunts who were prostitutes, father and uncles who were pimps. When he found his comic identity, that upbringing gave him a lot of good stories and characters to bring to life, a lot of pain to explore and unleash, a lot of damage to overcome and inflict. And apparently, it made him lovable. It's interesting to see how many people, men and women, who loved Pryor and wanted him to win.

But we also get to see how he battled or didn't battle his demons. The film raises the question of whether fame fueled the dark side or just enhanced it. Pryor could be incredibly attractive and madly callous. One anecdote tells of his relationship with actress/goddess Pam Grier, a relationship so serious all his friends thought it was heading toward marriage. Pryor ended that talk, and the relationship, by abruptly marrying someone else, a person unknown to nearly everyone he knew. It makes for a very funny story, but man, is that a cruel thing to do. (Pam Grier isn't in the film to give her thoughts.)

While the film does touch on Pryor's Indigo Film company, a multimillion dollar deal that made him the only African American with a production company at the time, it doesn't get into what exactly went wrong or give a good sense of Pryor's ambitions for the effort. Football star/actor Jim Brown, the company's president, doesn't appear in the film.

It would have been great too, to hear from the exes (only Jennifer Pryor and another early ex appear) on why he was lovable. Six women married him. What was it like?

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Pryor was a tough man to know. He was clearly complicated; vulnerable on stage, but maybe vulnerable in a different way, off stage. The thing is a film about his life doesn't have to have clear answers about who Pryor was. But it should give it a good try.

What to Watch on Saturday: Reality series 'Ball Boys' looks at sports memorabilia

NCAA Basketball (4:30pm, CBS) - Games continue with Louisville vs. Florida at 4:30 and Syracuse vs. Ohio State at 7:05. Both games will air on CBS.

Ball Boys (3pm, ABC) - This new reality series about a Baltimore sports memorabilia shop is from the producers of "Pawn Stars." In this first episode, store owner Robbie Sr. searches for a special Notre Dame gift for a client's husband and gets Hall of Famer Jim Brown to authenticate his autograph on a helmet. A second episode airs at 3:30 featuring former Major League Baseball player Pete Rose (pictured at left with store owners). 

Must Love Cats (8pm, Animal Planet) - A tour of England features pub cats, a cat with an extremely loud purr, and a cat's long journey from home. Also, a scientist's theory on the outdoor habits of cats.

Q'Viva! The Chosen (8pm, Fox) - Contestants audition at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, and the judges decide who's moving on to the next round.

Too Cute (9pm, Animal Planet) - Animal Planet gives canines a shot with an episode about fluffy puppies.

The Firm (9pm, NBC) - This episode was preempted last week: Mitch represents a death-row inmate who wants to help the family he wronged, and there are developments in the Sarah Holt case.

Greater Raleigh Chamber and WEP say don't delay adoption of student assignment plan

Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata and the school board are getting support from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership to vote on the student assignment plan on Tuesday.

In an op-ed piece today, leaders of both groups say the plan will empower parents, produce stability, create a culture of competition, efficiently use facilities and create a natural diversity. While the plan isn't perfect, they say it's  "a logical blueprint for moving beyond the divisive issue of reassignment."

"Delaying a decision at this point would only prolong the corrosive debate and further distract from pressing classroom issues and needed discussions about how to handle future enrollment growth," according to the piece written by Jim Brown, chair of Wake Education Partnership's board of directors and Jim Beck, chair of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Sports legend Jim Brown signs with Raleigh PR firm

A small public relations shop in Raleigh has signed as a client one of the top athletes of the 20th century.

PSE-3 said this week it will represent Jim Brown, the former running back for the Cleveland Browns and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brown, now 75 years old and still looking like a tough guy, is game for making commercials on TV, online and in print, as well as personal appearances, said PSE-3 founder Bill Futterer.

Sanderson announces first Hall of Fame class

Sanderson High School and the Sanderson Athletic Club are set to induct the first class of the newly established Sanderson Athletics Hall of Fame.  The Sanderson Class of 2011 will be the forty-third class of students to graduate from the school that opened for the 1968-69 school year.  Although the Spartans have a rich tradition of excellence in athletics, they haven’t established a Hall of Fame until now.
 
The Sanderson Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2011 includes eight athletes, one coach, one team, one booster, two families, and one “happening” - the famous “Streak” of 103 consecutive soccer matches without a loss.

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