‘Super Freak’: True Crime Miniseries Based on Rick James in Development

by Jamila Lizet White

December 22, 2020

Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

A limited series based on the late Rick James is currently being developed by UCP. Super Freak (working title) is set to be executive produced by James’ daughter, Ty James. The project is described as a funkadelic mix of music biopic and true crime.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The limited series will be written and executive produced by Randy McKinnnon and will tell the story of the Grammy-winning artist’s attempt at a comeback in the early 1990s amidst a heated trial that threatened to destroy his legacy.

As fans may recall, the “Give It to Me Baby” singer’s drug abuse formed in his teens — first with marijuana and heroin. His cocaine use began in 1960 and his addiction increased by the 80s. James’ heavy drug use resulted in spending $7,000 a week, in which he revealed to the Washington Post during a 1998 interview, major health problems, and kidnapping and assault convictions.

In 1991, the Buffalo, New York native and his then-girlfriend Tanya Hijazi were accused of holding 24-year-old Frances Alley hostage for up to six days. James was facing life in prison if convicted on all charges including aggravated mayhem, torture, assault with a deadly weapon, and kidnapping.

Two years following the incident and while out on bail, James assaulted music executive Mary Sauger under the influence of cocaine. Sauger claims she met the couple for a business meeting at the St. James Club and Hotel in West Hollywood but was kidnapped and physically assaulted over a 20-hour period.

He was later found guilty of both offenses but was cleared of a torture charge which removed the life sentence. The singer-songwriter was sentenced to five years at Folsom Prison but only served more than two years.  Sauger won the civil suit and was awarded nearly $2 million.

“We are truly ecstatic about this new project with UCP and extremely excited to work with the writer Randy McKinnon,” said Ty. “We are confident he can give the fans exactly what they have been waiting on, plus some. This will be a magic carpet ride, with ups and downs, joys and pain — a story of perseverance and tenacity, with the music being the greatest navigation system. Get ready for the ride of your lives — the story of James A. Johnson, AKA Rick James!”

Tell us: Who should portray Rick James?

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