Funk music renegade Rick James is going to get the biographical limited series treatment, courtesy of Randy McKinnon (Grand Army, Chambers), as reported by Deadline. The limited series’ working title is Super Freak, named for one of the artist’s biggest hits. McKinnon’s development partners on the project include Nick Antosca (The Act, Channel Zero) and James’s daughter Ty, who presides over her father’s estate, as confirmed by a post McKinnon made on his Instagram account. McKinnon’s post also reveals that the show is a dream project for him, since he has reportedly looked for opportunities to dramatize James’s life story for many years.
The series will reportedly recount the legal troubles and public scandals that turned the Motown recording artist into one of the most buzzed-about personalities of the 1990’s, via Deadline. McKinnon’s Instagram post, however, reports that the upcoming show will additionally cover James’s rise to the top in the decades prior to his trials: “This funkadelic series will offer an unfiltered glimpse into the complex persona of [James] himself and the journey from Buffalo, NY, to becoming [sic] the one and only king of punk funk.” No official distributor for the series has been attached to the project as of its announcement, according to Deadline.
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Another executive producer on the series is award-winning journalist Mike Sager (The Devil and John Holmes), Deadline reports. Sager interviewed James for Rolling Stone in 1995, resulting in the celebrity profile “The Rise and Fall of a Super Freak.” Sager claimed on Twitter that the upcoming limited series is based in part on his article. Sager’s other non-fiction work has reportedly inspires well-known feature films like Boogie Nights and Wonderland, according to Daily Titan.
Psyched for a #RickJames series inspired by my story The Rise and Fall of a Super Freak. Read the longform version in my book Scary Monsters…. #Superfreak @UCP shoutout to assigning editor Bob Love. https://t.co/PBaNvz9hAA pic.twitter.com/uhYMjfpsg3
— mike sager (@therealsager) December 16, 2020
James had a lot to talk about in 1995. The music star was reportedly finishing a sentence at Folsom Prison at the time, according to Billboard. He had been convicted twice over for assault charges made by two women, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. Frances Alley, a woman in her early twenties, claimed that she had been a prisoner of James and his future wife Tanya Anne Hijazi inside their mansion for multiple days, during which she was allegedly subjected to various torturous indignities, via The Buffalo News. The other plaintiff was music industry executive Mary Sauger, who made similar claims about imprisonment and subsequent assault by James and Hijazi, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Plans to erect a neon public art piece in Buffalo in honor of James, who passed away in 2004, were abandoned in 2018, as reported by The Buffalo News.