Following NBC’s epic SNL 40 special, some stories emerged from behind-the-scenes on the set. One of these stories came from former “Weekend Update” host Norm MacDonald, and discussed how Eddie Murphy was initially going to be a part of the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch, but backed out as he was uncomfortable with doing a Bill Cosby impression. The story went viral, but not everyone involved with SNL 40 feels that Norm MacDonald should have told the story. Here’s how other former “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers put it in a recent interview.
Meyers recently popped up on Howard Stern to talk about his late night show, SNL 40 and much, much more. While on the show Stern asked how Meyers felt about Norm’s big reveal. Here’s how Meyers answered.
I wouldn’t have told it. I feel the same way. I think when you’re at SNL, you’re seeing so many different things behind the scenes. I get that the world wants to hear everything going on back there…. People have for years been making choices when they get interviewed about SNL about how much to give away. There are often things to give away that are yours to give away. Norm played it in a way that is very Norm MacDonald, and I couldn’t be a bigger Norm MacDonald fan. I think those who loved Norm were probably very happy.
Norm did reveal the Eddie Murphy backstage story in a pretty weird manner. He took to Twitter to share the lengthy story with the world, giving the fine folks on social media intimate details about what exactly happened backstage at SNL 40, including how Murphy was pitched the “Celebrity Jeopardy” idea and then waffled on it closer to show time (Kenan Thompson filled in for the comedian). His closing tweet mentioned that Eddie Murphy could really have been the perfect Bill Cosby, adding a poignant note to an otherwise juicy behind-the-scene tale.
It’s not like the Eddie Murphy story was the only tale running around the internet after SNL 40 aired. Jimmy Fallon notably talked about a ton of experiences on the set, and Meyers himself has openly talked about turning his studio into a party room during the special (he also briefly mentions Eddie Murphy showed up early to rehearse in the Howard Stern interview). However, the Eddie Murphy story was a different case for a couple of reasons. On the positive side, Norm MacDonald’s big reveal explains what Murphy initially had in the works and why we ended up getting a pretty somber and deflated performance on the stage during the actual special while other SNL veterans were busy singing love themes to Jaws and other silly shenanigans.
On the other hand, the story also caused a media sensation, resulting in Eddie Murphy getting connected to the negative press surrounding the Bill Cosby rape allegations. In fact, Bill Cosby even made a statement thanking Murphy for not getting involved in the sketch, which is probably what Murphy was hoping to avoid by not signing on for the impression. Whether or not Norm should have told the story, it’s already out there, but it’s interesting to think about the multiple viewpoints related to telling the story versus keeping it under wraps.