When it comes to entertainment journalism, there’s news, and then there’s new-to-you. With Eddie Murphy doing an awards season victory lap for his work on “Dolemite Is My Name,” people who had neglected to follow the career of Murphy over the past few years are likely to hear some stories that fell off their radar in the past decade. Some will be new; others will be new-to-you, an opportunity to find out what happened to long-gestating projects that disappeared or got stuck in development hell.
Take Murphy’s recent IndieWire interview. While the whole interview is worth reading – especially the section where Murphy becomes obsessed with finding a photo on his phone – Murphy also shared a story about the “Beverly Hills Cops” story that some audiences may not have heard. Back in 2013, CBS was hard at work on a television adaptation of the popular movie series. The show was set to star Brandon T. Jackson as the son of Murphy’s Axel Foley, and Murphy himself was set to reprise his character in the pilot episode.
Then, to the surprise of many, CBS declined to order the pilot to series. In his recent IndieWire interview, Murphy claimed that it was his popularity – and lack of desire to do television – that did the whole thing in.
We did it, we shot a pilot for a TV show for “Beverly Hills Cop 3.” The reason that didn’t get picked up was because [the studio] thought that I was going to be in this show, because [the lead] was my son: “And you’re going to pop in every now and then.” I was like, “I ain’t popping in shit.” “Well, we ain’t making this TV show.” I was in the pilot, but they wanted me to be there every week. The pilot was really good. It tested where they have these knobs [that you] turn if you like it. And whenever I came on the screen, Axel Foley would come on the screen, they turned it so they literally broke the knobs on the thing. It was like, “Damn, they breaking knobs?”
These comments are almost a direct repeat of what Murphy told Playboy in 2015 – even down to the anecdote about the audiences breaking the buttons – which is in itself a lesson in mythmaking. Whether or not audiences were really breaking the buttons in a “Beverly Hills Cop” screening does not matter; Murphy has created a legend surrounding his popularity in the show, and that legend will persist long after Paramount wrestles some watered down remake into production. So here’s to Murphy’s award season victory lap and the stories, new and old, that will come out of it. Here’s hoping he offers us countless more legends to share.