Rumors are swirling that Eddie Murphy may make a surprise appearance on 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend when his 'Tower Heist' co-star Ben Stiller hosts. This will probably not happen. Eddie Murphy absolutely hates 'Saturday Night Live' and has not appeared on the show that made him a star since he hosted back on Dec. 15, 1984. Not only has Murphy never attended the various 'SNL' anniversary shows, but he was also one of only to living cast members (along with Dennis Miller) to refuse to talk with Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller for the excellent book 'Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.' Just in case Murphy does appear this weekend, however, perhaps it's time to take a look back at the history of Eddie Murphy hating 'Saturday Night Live.'
Murphy's tenure at 'SNL' started auspiciously enough. Lorne Michaels, after five years, had left the show along with the entire cast. Jean Doumanian was tapped as Michaels's replacement as executive producer -- a job she would not hold for long, as she oversaw what's regarded as the worst season the show has ever seen -- and set out to hire a brand new cast.
Fortunately for Doumanian, a young talent named Eddie Murphy would fall in her lap from pretty much out of nowhere. Unfortunately for Doumanian, she passed on Murphy and instead cast Robert Townsend as "the black guy on the show," as talent coordinator Neil Levy quotes her in 'Live from New York.' Levy goes on to say that he had to threaten to quit in order to get Murphy hired. Which he eventually did -- as a featured player. So, yes: a cast that saw the likes of Robin Duke, Ann Riley and Denny Dillon as full-time members would only include Murphy as a featured player.
After Doumanian was fired, Dick Ebersol took over executive producer duties at 'SNL.' Ebersol realized immediately that the show had a star languishing in the background and immediately put Murphy front and center. During a season that 'SNL' was almost canceled, Murphy put the show on his back. It could be argued that Murphy is the reason that 'SNL' still lives on today. (Hold this thought.)
On Dec. 11, Murphy hosted 'SNL' for the first time. He was already such a star at this point that when Nick Nolte was too sick to host, Murphy -- who was still a cast member -- took over the hosting duties.
After the success of '48 Hours,' Murphy was a bona fide movie star. In an unprecedented move -- one that would never happen under a Lorne Michaels led show -- Ebersol offered Murphy a contract that only required the star of the show to appear live on 10 of the 20 shows. Also an unprecedented move: Murphy was allowed to pre-tape segments that would later run on the live show.
Murphy's last show as a cast member was on Feb. 25, 1984. The host was journalist Edwin Newman.
On Dec. 15, 1984, Murphy would return one last time, as host, during Ebersol's last season (nicknamed "The Steinbrenner Season" for all of the already known talent that was hired such as Billy Crystal and Martin Short). It was on this show that "White Like Me," one of the most iconic sketches in the history of 'SNL,' would air. This was the last time Murphy ever appeared on 'SNL' in any capacity. Murphy never worked under either of Lorne Michaels's regimes.
The Hollywood Minute Incident
David Spade, hosting an early '90s 'SNL' segment during "Weekend Update" called "Hollywood Minute," quipped, "Look children, a falling star," as Eddie Murphy's picture was displayed in the background. Murphy, who is the only reason that 'SNL' didn't find itself canceled during the early 1980s, was furious.
In a 1997 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Spade said, "Chris Rock told me, 'Spade, Eddie's got his biggest movie in 10 years, a beautiful wife, and he still can't shake the fact that you took a swipe at him.'"
Eddie Murphy is the only major alumnus who does not attend the 'SNL' primetime 25th anniversary show.
Eddie Murphy and Dennis Miller are the only cast members who refuse to participate in 'Live From New York.'
Murphy co-stars in 'Tower Heist,' a film that could be his first "edgy" comedic role in arguabl, 20 years. His co-star, Ben Stiller, is the host of 'SNL' this weekend -- promoting a film that not only co-stars Murphy, but is directed by Murphy's friend, Brett Ratner. Not only that, Murphy desperately needs a live-action hit -- something that could be helped by the buzz created by a much overdue return to 'SNL.' Whether that actually happens, remains to be seen.
[Top photo: FilmMagic]
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