Tags: eddie murphy | refused | to | play | cosby

Eddie Murphy Rejected Offer to Play Cosby on 'SNL 40'

Image: Eddie Murphy Rejected Offer to Play Cosby on 'SNL 40'
(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 06:39 AM

Comedian Norm Macdonald took to Twitter Wednesday evening to share a long but fascinating behind-the-scenes tale about "Saturday Night Live's" 40th anniversary extravaganza.

Eddie Murphy, who made a brief appearance on the NBC special on Sunday night, was in talks to impersonate Bill Cosby in "Celebrity Jeopardy," a skit Macdonald wrote and originally created for the show, but turned down the gig the day before the primetime telecast.

Kenan Thompson would eventually play Cosby in the sketch, which also featured Will Ferrell (Alex Trebeck), Macdonald (Burt Reynolds), Darrell Hammond (Sean Connery) and Kate McKinnon (Justin Bieber).

"Among many other things, this show was to be the return of Eddie Murphy," Macdonald wrote.

The comedian went on to shower Murphy, now 58, with praises for his contribution to "SNL" in the late '70s and early '80s when the show nearly went off the air because of low ratings.

"Eddie, the man who, in Lorne's absence, kept the show alive. Singlehandedly. ... Every Saturday Night at 11:30 Eddie Murphy, a kid, would fill 90 minutes with comedy. Impossible."

But Murphy's interest in the show came to a screeching halt in the early '90s when David Spade, hosting a segment on "Weekend Update" quipped, "Look children, a falling star," as Murphy's picture was displayed in the background.

The actor-comedian was so upset by the comment, according to Macdonald, that he refused to attend the show's 25th anniversary in 1999. He also turned down several hosting opportunities.

"David is a very kind man," Macdonald said, "but his remark was not."

After more 30 years away from the program, however, Murphy, to the disbelief of many, appeared in the halls of Studio 8 on Saturday night for rehearsal.

"(Chris) Rock says, "There he is. Like Ali in Zaire," Macdonald wrote.

As the star-studded lineup began to gather to prep for the 3.5-hour show that day, Macdonald pulled Murphy aside in a dressing room for an hour trying to persuade him to do the show.

"When it's over, I'm convinced he'll do it."

Adding to the "SNL 40" uncertainty was the fact that Bill Murray was golfing in California.

"With Bill Murray, golf always comes first."

To "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels' relief, Murray did show up to "SNL 40" and eventually participated in a few sketches, including the hilarious ode to "Jaws."

Murphy, however, opted against the laughs.

According to Macdonald, he didn't want to further ridicule Cosby, the comedy legend and public enemy No. 1 on the Internet, who already faces a litany of sexual assault allegations.

"He knew the laughs would bring the house down," Macdonald said of the actor-comedian. "(But) Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down."

Wearing a stealth blue sight, Murphy did entertain the audience ever-so-briefly after a warm introduction from Chris Rock, saying his "SNL" return was like "going back to my old high school, kind of."


© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Comedian Norm Macdonald took to Twitter Wednesday evening to share a long but fascinating behind-the-scenes tale about Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary extravaganza. Eddie Murphy, who made a brief appearance on the NBC special on Sunday night, was in talks to...
eddie murphy, refused, to, play, cosby
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2015-39-19
Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 06:39 AM
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