The Joan Rivers series isn’t happening, they didn’t get the rights to her life

Last month we heard about a limited series about Joan Rivers called The Comeback Girl. There were so many advance details that it seemed like a done deal. Kathryn Hahn was set to star and co-produce, it was going to air on Showtime and several production companies were attached. It was set in 1978, shortly after Rivers tragically lost her husband to suicide and around the time she reinvented herself. The movie summary/logline was mildly snarky about Joan, but she could dish it out and it was accurate. It read “Trailblazer. Adored. Cruel. Diva. Joan Rivers had a life like no other.”

I wrote at the time that the announcement had no mention of Joan’s daughter, Melissa, and that I hoped the show would get her input. Melissa was close with her mom and would have a lot of insight for a show about her. It turns out that the producers made the announcement and secured that deal with Showtime before they had the rights from Melissa to Joan’s life story. They were unable to get the rights and now the show isn’t moving forward.

Because of issues around the life rights of Joan Rivers, a limited series in which Kathryn Hahn would have played the legendary comedian isn’t moving forward…

Rivers’ life rights, which are held by her daughter, Melissa Rivers, hadn’t been secured by producers. The project could have proceeded as an unauthorized venture, but “The Comeback Girl” wouldn’t have been able to use any of Rivers’ jokes or catchphrases, and, of course, risked running afoul of Melissa Rivers and the estate…

As for whether Melissa Rivers has any plans for biographical stories about her mother, who died at age 81 after living an extraordinary life, her spokesperson said there’s nothing to be announced yet.

[From Variety]

I know that Joan was not everybody’s favorite person, but I respect her as a pioneer in the gossip industry. How do you do a whole press rollout for a show about a celebrity and not get the rights to their life story first? Melissa Rivers is still very much alive and accessible. I’m annoyed on her behalf that they would disrespect her by not presumably not contacting her beforehand. It’s possible they were in talks with Melissa before making the announcement, but it did not mention her at all. If I read about a series about my mom before they bothered to contact me, I would have withheld the rights to her story on principle. If this is how it happened and no one bothered to contact Melissa first I don’t blame her for refusing to grant the rights. It’s also possible that Melissa didn’t approve of how her mother was going to be portrayed.

Photos credit: and via Instagram

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9 Responses to “The Joan Rivers series isn’t happening, they didn’t get the rights to her life”

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  1. Pocket Litter says:

    Loved Joan Rivers. She supported God’s Love We Deliver from the beginning. I don’t blame Melissa one bit, if she said no.

  2. LightPurple says:

    Melissa fiercely protects her mom; they made a huge mistake.

  3. smee says:

    Too bad – Kathryn Hahn is perfect casting as JR (unlike a certain Luuuucy)

  4. Jan90067 says:

    HUGE lifelong Joan fan here. If someone wants to learn about Joan, I HIGHLY recommend her movie, “A Piece of Work”. I saw a screening of it before it came out (years ago), and Joan did a Q&A after, to a packed theater.

    I still miss her…sigh…

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Jan90067, that was an exceptional movie!! I thoroughly enjoyed watching her, her authentic self!!

      Though, pretty irresponsible of not getting permission for access to her life yet, if that is what happened.

  5. GR says:

    Rivers built a lot of her success on being vicious and nasty to other women. Remember all the awful shit she said about Elizabeth Taylor’s appearance (while Rivers herself was busy mutilating her own face)?
    I think we can let her be forgotten.

  6. Sue says:

    Can’t they just Jackie Jorpjomp it like they did on 30 Rock? Sloan Shivers or something?

  7. Mika says:

    I read “How do you do a whole press rollout for a show about a celebrity and not get the rights to their life story?” in Joan’s voice.

    She would have had a good cackle at this. I miss her.