So, Why Did Eddie Murphy Refuse To Play Cosby on ‘SNL’ 40th?

The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary special was filled with many memorable moments. There was one moment that did not happen that has people talking: Eddie Murphy refused to play Cosby during the “Celebrity Jeopardy” segment.

CNN is reporting that Norm MacDonald, a former SNL actor and writer himself, was one of the writers for the “Celebrity Jeopardy” segment. During one brainstorming session, MacDonald came up with the idea of having Murphy portray Cosby during the segment, feeling it would bring many laughs.

At first, the SNL people were in contact with Murphy’s people, seeing if Murphy would be interested in doing the skit. After numerous attempts to connect, MacDonald had pretty much given up, and talked to longtime SNL producer Lorne Michaels for advice.

Michaels responded with, “Why don’t you call him?”

MacDonald did finally get a hold of Murphy, but it was the day of the special. MacDonald and Murphy spent about an hour in a dressing room, MacDonald trying feverishly to convince Murphy to portray Cosby. MacDonald, who tweeted many different observances throughout the week, felt that, at this point, Murphy would do the skit.

Near the start of the show, Murphy declined. Instead, Murphy told the audience about what the show meant to him. The audience seemed rather stunned by this, most likely expecting some kind of skit, but, alas, did not get one. Considering the hoopla concerning Murphy’s return to the show, there probably should have been one. Especially since Murphy eschewed appearing on the 25th SNL Anniversary show, perhaps the crowd expected more.

NBC is reporting that the whole dilemma stems from Cosby having been accused of sexual impropriety by at least 20 different women. Cosby, through his lawyers, has denied all allegations, and has never been charged.

MacDonald later tweeted, “(Murphy) knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than any one [sic],” MacDonald said on Twitter.

“Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down.”

MacDonald later tweeted, “Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs,” MacDonald said. “Eddie Murphy is the coolest, a rockstar even in a room with actual rockstars.”

Cosby, for his part, released a statement to NBC which read, in part, “I am very appreciate of Eddie and I applaud his actions.”

So, the 40th Anniversary special for SNL has come and gone. Will it be remembered for the celebration, or the unfinished skit?

[Image courtesy of Uptown Magazine]