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Norm Macdonald Tried to Get Eddie Murphy to Play Bill Cosby on the 'SNL40' Celebrity Jeopardy Sketch

By Brian Byrd | Industry | February 18, 2015 |

By Brian Byrd | Industry | February 18, 2015 |

Norm Macdonald, like most of us, doesn’t always bring his A-game on Twitter. Followers must endure his penchant for live-tweeting golf tournaments and regular season NFL games in order to find the gems. Occasionally, though, Macdonald delivers enough 140-character greatness that you’re reminded why you chose to click the “Follow” button in the first place.

Case in point: tonight, Macdonald decided to share numerous backstage happenings from last weekend’s Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special. He goes into great detail about the writing process (McDonald arrived Monday to help with the scripting), how they got Bill Murray to perform the Jaws theme, and his reaction to Rolling Stone’s rather ridiculous SNL cast member rankings.

But the most fascinating nugget involves “Celebrity Jeopardy.” After an interesting preamble where Macdonald explains why the classic sketch works (Will Ferrell’s optimistic but increasingly exasperated version of Alex Trebek) and the dangers of utilizing too many celebrity impressions (it screws up the rhythm and “Celebrity Jeopardy,” according to Norm, was never about the impressions, anyway), he talks at length about how the 40th anniversary version came together and a proposed capper that, if successful, would have immediately entered the SNL Hall of Fame.

In a nutshell, Lorne Michaels tasked Norm, Steve Higgins (the former SNL co-head writer who is now Jimmy Fallon’s announcer on The Tonight Show) and Lori Jo Hoekstra with scripting a “Jeopardy” sketch that would eclipse every previous iteration. Two of the three contestants were no-brainers — “Celebrity Jeopardy” cannot exist without Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery and McDonald’s Burt Reynolds/Turd Ferguson — but they needed a third celebrity impression that could hold its own against the two legendary SNL characters. I’ll let Norm take it from here:

So that was the plan: have Murphy return to SNL for the first time in 30 years to portray a comedy-legend-turned-pariah on a live primetime television special watched by nearly 30 million people. I think we can all agree the resulting sketch would have snapped the Internet in half like two kids fighting over a wishbone. There was only one hurdle: Norm and crew needed to convince Murphy to do the bit. And that could not be accomplished without the services of — you guessed it — Frank Stallone Brett Ratner.

“A cool guy who knows a great deal about comedy.” Agree that this is hilarious. ratner.jpg


Murphy remained non-committal up until the night before the special when McDonald ran into the former SNL giant and made one last pitch.

Spoiler alert for this next one:

But for somewhat admirable reasons:

I highly recommend checking out the entire rundown over on Macdonald’s Twitter page. Just unfollow him before the next PGA Tour event tees off.

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