Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason The Joan Rivers Biopic The Comeback Girl Just Got Scrapped

The late Joan Rivers is one of the most famous comedians of all-time, and is widely regarded as helping to pave the way for women in comedy with her forthright, often vulgar style of humor. In fact, after making frequent guest appearances on NBC's "The Tonight Show" with host (and Rivers' mentor) Johnny Carson, Rivers got her own late night talk show to host in 1986, "The Late Show with Joan Rivers," making her the first woman to do so on a major network (via Insider). Later, her daytime talk show "The Joan Rivers Show," which ran from 1989 to 1993 earned Rivers a Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Throughout her career, she went on to write twelve books, hosted the E! fashion show "Fashion Police," and appeared in numerous films.

Naturally someone with a career like Rivers seems a natural choice to explore through a biopic. Showtime wanted to do just that with one titled "The Comeback Girl," as reported by Deadline in September of 2021. Kathryn Hahn was cast as the legendary comedian, with Greg Berlanti ("Love, Simon") set to direct and relative newcomer Cosmo Carlson set to write the series. It was going to be produced by Warner Bros. Television, Atlas Entertainment and Berlanti Productions. The series would focus on a period of personal and professional lows for Rivers, and how she made it through the rough time.

Now, just one month later, the project has been scrapped before it could evolve past its initial premise and before anyone else could be cast — here's why.

Showtime came across a rights issue

As reported by Variety, the producers were unable to attain the life rights of Joan Rivers, which are held by her daughter, Melissa Rivers. Thus, "The Comeback Girl" will not be moving forward. The only way the project could have moved forward would be as an unauthorized venture, but, as Variety points out, the writers and producers wouldn't have been able to incorporate any of Rivers' actual jokes, which would have been a glaring absence in the finished project.

The official synopsis of the scrapped project read, "Trailblazer. Adored. Cruel. Diva. Joan Rivers had a life like no other. At age 54, she was a superstar comedienne ... and then it all fell apart. 'The Comeback Girl' is the awe-inspiring untold story of how Joan Rivers persevered through near suicide and professional abyss to rebuild herself and her career to become a global icon" (via Variety).

Unfortunately, we will no longer get to see this premise come to life, but the jury is still out on whether Melissa Rivers herself intends to produce anything about her mother's life with the rights she owns, or not.