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Spike TV gathered a number of Eddie Murphy's pals to celebrate the comic's career in 'Eddie Murphy: One Night Only'
The special was filmed in Beverly Hills and stars Samuel L. Jackson, Russell Brand, Stevie Wonder and Tracy Morgan
By David Hinckley / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, November 11, 2012, 6:00 AM
From left, Stevie Wonder and Eddie Murphy onstage at Spike TV’s “Eddie Murphy: One Night Only” at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills
Tracy Morgan mimics Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious” red-leather stagewear on “Eddie Murphy: One Night Only.”
From left, Samuel L. Jackson and Eddie Murphy in the audience at Spike TV’s “Eddie Murphy: One Night Only” at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills
Casey Patterson remembers when, as a young girl, she snuck down to the TV to watch Eddie Murphy’s comedy special “Delirious.”
“I probably shouldn’t have,” she says. “But I had never seen anything like it. It was like what I imagine it would have been to see the Beatles for the first time.
“This wasn’t just telling jokes. This was comedy.”
These days Patterson is executive vice president of event production at Spike TV, a network that loves comedy. So she’s quite pleased it was the Spike team that finally talked Murphy into sanctioning a filmed tribute to his career, featuring an army of his funny friends.
“Eddie Murphy: One Night Only” was filmed Nov. 3 and will air Wednesday night at 10 on Spike.
It features Murphy watching and sometimes joining friends like Stevie Wonder, Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Tyler Perry as they reminisce about the man who has played everyone from Buckwheat and Gumby to Detective Axel Foley and soul singer James (Thunder) Early.
Sometimes he’s played a bunch of people at once, like the “Nutty Professor” films in which he appeared as a professor, his alter ego and his brother, father, mother and grandmother.
At one point in this special, Perry takes the stage to say he hadn’t even thought of playing multiple characters until he saw Murphy doing it. Making Murphy, perhaps, a parent of Madea.
Murphy has often noted that he got the multicharacter idea himself from Peter Sellers movies, which places him exactly where Patterson says he belongs: as one of the major links in the chain of comedy.
“I think when you look at comedians, you have to put him at the top,” she says. “No one else has done all the things he can do.”
Born in Brooklyn, Murphy was one of many comics who got their first big break on “Saturday Night Live,” where he starred in the second-wave cast of 1980-1984.
That’s where he invented Buckwheat, whom he eventually arranged to have assassinated, as well as Gumby and Mr. Robinson, a soft-spoken but sometimes insidious street version of Mr. Rogers.
He busted out of “SNL” as a rising star, thanks also to the 1983 “Delirious” special, in which he ensured a permanent spot for the red leather jumpsuit in pop-culture history. Tracy Morgan pays tribute to that suit in “One Night Only”by taking the stage in a slightly larger replica.
Meanwhile, Murphy had also moved into films, starting with his 1982 role opposite Nick Nolte in the action drama “48 Hrs.”
The next year he played the same deceptively smart character, only this time wearing a suit as a commodities broker in “Trading Places.”
A year later he filmed the first “Beverly Hills Cop,” in which Axel Foley goes west and shows the Cali cops how they do it in Detroit.
All this propelled him into the pop-music world. His 1984 dance tune “Party All the Time” was produced by Rick James and became a hit.
He didn’t have another hit, however, and his musical career shared some of the trajectory of his movie career, where he had his share of bombs as well as successes.
After making “Best Defense” with Dudley Moore in 1984, he called it “the worst movie in the history of everything.” He was equally blunt in trashing “Beverly Hills Cop 3,” though that hasn’t stopped him from signing on for a TV-series revival of that franchise.
He probably won’t make more than an occasional appearance in the TV version, he says, since the show will feature a next-generation cast.
At the taping of the new special, he joked several times that at 51, he’s “retired.”
Patterson, for one, isn’t buying that.
“This isn’t one of those AFI events that just looks back on a long career,” she says. “I expect we’ll see a lot more work from Eddie Murphy — maybe his best work.
“He doesn’t have to do standup comedy. He’s proven he can do almost anything.”
“One Night Only” is less a straight tribute, she says, than “something a lot closer to a Rat Pack event, one of those Dean Martin roasts.
“Eddie’s sitting with all his friends, Chris and Tracy and Samuel L. Jackson. He told us ahead of time that the best event he could imagine would be one where his friends made him laugh, and that’s just what they do.”
Nor is it all friends. One of the funniest riffs, Patterson says, comes from Russell Brand.
“He talks about how he never met Eddie, but how he knew his work even overseas, when he was a little girl growing up in Britain.”
Over the years, says Patterson, Murphy has been asked “by just about everybody” to do an event like this.
“He always turned it down,” she says. “But now it just seems like the right time, coming up toward the 30th anniversary of ‘Delirious’ and ‘48 Hrs.’ and ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ I think he feels like he’s in a good place now.”
She adds that it still took “three or four years” for Spike to coordinate everything and make it happen.
And in case anyone wonders how much of the special was unsuitable for TV, even on a cable network that has a raunchy side, Patterson has an answer: none of it.
“That’s not what this is about,” she says. “I mean, it’s a 10 p.m. show, but no one was doing anything we couldn’t include.
“That’s one of the things about Eddie. He does comedy that reaches everyone.”