Actor Courtney B. Vance has been cast as O.J. Simpson's lawyer Johnnie Cochran in much-anticipated TV drama series American Crime Story: The People V. O.j. Simpson. The Tony Award winner will portray Simpson's flamboyant defence attorney in the show, which will centre around the sports star's 1995 murder trial, during which the former football star was controversially acquitted of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
Simpson's defence "dream team" will be rounded out by John Travolta, who will play Robert Shapiro, and former Friends star David Schwimmer, who will take on the roll of Simpson's late friend and attorney, Robert Kardashian.
Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. will portray Simpson, while actress Sarah Paulson has been cast as prosecutor Marcia Clark.
The series will be executive produced by Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy.
Cochran passed away in 2005.
Saturday Night Live is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year and it's had some very memorable cast members (Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler to name a few) at studio 8H, and then there are some people who are very memorable actors, but we all sort of forgot their brief moments on the sketch comedy.
1. Robert Downey Jr. (85-86)
Robert Downey Jr. as suitcase boy, giving a "confrontational monologue"...it's not all that surprising he lasted only 1 season. But he's clearly moved on to bigger and better things.
2. Anthony Michael Hall (85-86)
To this day, Anthony Michael Hall still holds the title for youngest cast member on SNL, having joined when he was only 17-years-old in order to break his "geek" film typecast. He later admit he'd underestimated how competitive the show was.
3. Gilbert Gottfried (80-81)
We thought it was impossible to forget that voice, but it was on SNL for a year.
4. Damon Wayans (85-86)
Wayans is best known for his time on In loving Color, it's easy to forget the year he spent at SNL.
5. Jenny Slate (09-10)
You may or may not remember her time on SNL, as it wasn't that long ago, but you may remember someone dropping the F-bomb on live TV for the first time on this show. That was her.
6. Ben Stiller (1989)
His time as a featured player was brief, but this Weekend Update review of Rain Man with SNL legend Mike Meyers was a shining moment.
7. Billy Crystal (84-85)
If you've been following SNL since the early days, you might not have forgotten about Billy Crystal and the many characters he portrayed in his 1-season run, but maybe you forgot the time he got Mr. T and Hulk Hogan to crack up on live TV.
8. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (82-85)
Maybe you're obsessed with Veep or still haven't gotten over Seinfeld, either way with such an extensive career, it's easy to forget Julia's early days on SNL (though she was the youngest woman ever cast at at 21-years-old).
9. Sarah Silverman (93-94)
While there aren't many (if any) videos of Sarah's stint (she did mainyl write) on SNL 22 years ago, she does say she's happy that doesn't define her career.
10. Joan Cusack (85-86)
Her short time on SNL wasn't a bump in the road, but actually the spark that ignited her 30+ year career.
11. Rob Riggle (04-05)
You may not always recognize Rob Riggle by name, but you'll easily remember him from 21 Jump Street and Step Brothers. During his short time on SNL, he did impressions of Larry the Cable Guy, Toby Keith, and Howard Dean.
12. David Koechner (95-96)
Before his Anchorman days, he became buddies with Will Ferrell when they were both cast members on this show.
Comedian Eddie Murphy is set to make a return to Saturday Night Live after more than 30 years. The funnyman has signed on to appear in the forthcoming 40th anniversary special for the U.S. sketch show, the series that initially helped make him a star.
In a new interview with U.S. newsman Roland Martin, Murphy, who last appeared on the show in 1984, chalks the 31-year-absence to bad scheduling, saying, "It just never worked out where the timing was right for me to do it. They're actually having a 40th anniversary, I think, in two weeks. I'm going to that, and that'll be the first time I've been back since I left."
While many SNL alums such as Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Tina Fey have gone on to successful careers in TV and film, and eventually returned to the show to host, Murphy has famously had a tense relationship with the programme, including with former castmate David Spade, who referred to the Beverly Hills Cop actor as a "falling star" on the show.
In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Murphy explained, "They were s**tty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I'd left the show. They said some s**tty things. There was that David Spade sketch. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot.
"It was like, 'Hey, come on, man, it's one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I'm one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are f**ked up, and you guys are s**tting on me?' And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know (executive producer) Lorne (Michaels) or whoever says, 'OK, it's OK to make this career crack..."
The SNL 40th Anniversary special will air in the U.S. on 15 February (15).
John Travolta is returning to TV to portray real-life defence attorney Robert Shapiro in American Crime Story: The People V. O.j. Simpson. The Pulp Fiction actor, who became a household name in America for his TV hit Welcome Back Kotter, will star alongside Cuba Gooding, Jr., who has been cast as Simpson in the drama.
The new TV project from Glee creator Ryan Murphy will centre on the former U.S. football player's murder trial. Simpson was accused and acquitted of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1995.
Travolta will also serve as a producer on the mini-series.
Actress Sarah Paulson has also been cast as prosecutor Marcia Clark and former Friends star David Schwimmer will portray Simpson's late friend and attorney, Robert Kardashian.
Neil Patrick Harris and his new husband David Burtka have landed guest starring roles on the current season of TV series American Horror Story. The Gone Girl star will appear in the final two episodes of the circus-themed Freak Show, as a chameleon salesman, while Burtka will appear in the season finale opposite Jessica Lange, according to TVLine.com.
The casting comes months after Harris revealed he wrote a letter to AHS creator Ryan Murphy, asking to be cast in the latest instalment of the anthology series.
This isn't the first time Harris and Murphy have collaborated - Harris won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010 for his role on Glee, another show Murphy created.
Hollywood director/producer Ryan Murphy has become a father for the second time after welcoming a son via surrogate.
The Glee creator and his husband David Miller became parents on Friday (03Oct14) when they brought home a little boy named Ford, joining elder brother Logan, who was born in December, 2012.
Murphy tells E! Online, "His name is Ford. I brought him home today from the hospital and Logan gave him kind of a side eye... It was an amazing birth. Thirty seven weeks and a day and he was a chunkier, seven pounds, 13 ounces. David and I were there and pulled him out and cut the cord and cried and it was pretty amazing. And now look at me I'm crying again."
The couple married in 2012.
After Ryan Murphy's The Normal Heart gobsmacked critics and audiences alike with its unflinching look at the affect of AIDS on the gay community, HBO has picked up yet another period piece detailing the struggles of gays in New York.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has picked up the script for Open City, a period piece that profiles New York in the late 60's. The drama, from writer David Kajganich and director Adam Shankman, will reportedly follow a diverse set of characters from all corners of Manhattan, as they navigate a city going through a cultural metamorphosis. The project will also examine the gay community's unlikely partnership with New York's mafia with the opening of a West Village night club.
Ever since the critical success of AMC's Mad Men, the television landscape has been littered with period dramas claiming to "explore" a place and time in the past, but all those imitators stumbled when they found that they had nothing of substance to really say about their given era. While Mad Men was having a deep discussion about the cultural mores of the sixties, all of those other pretenders (The Playboy Club, Magic City, Pan AM... the list goes on) were just playing dress up. Open City, on the other hand, looks to have some very important things to say about the time period and the city it depicts, and this project may fill a very big hole once Mad Men wraps up its seventh season.
With the success of projects like Looking and The Normal Heart, HBO is quietly becoming the destination for gay-themed television. There was a time where TV would sideline gay characters, only featuring them as broad stereotypes, but HBO has begun crafting interesting, and unpatronizing glimpses at the characters and stories that have been sorely missing from our television sets.
Lea Michele has broken her silence about the reported feud between her and Glee co-star Naya Rivera, insisting rumours of a major fall-out are "completely made up".
The actress/singer was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman on Friday night (16May14) and was keen to clear the air about her alleged fight with Rivera, who plays Santana on the show. Rivera's publicist and show creator Ryan Murphy have both dismissed reports suggesting Rivera had been fired from the programme, and would not be returning for the final season.
Now Michele has denied reports of the spat, telling Letterman, "It's really unbelievable the amount of things that can just be completely made up, and it's really frustrating... The way people like to pit women against each other... is really annoying and it's sad."
NBC Universal Media/Getty Images
Over the almost 50 years of Saturday Night Live, there have been plenty of seasons that were good (more than most casual observers would like to admit) and bad (some spectacularly so). There was, though, only one 1984: quite possibly the strangest season in the history of the show.
With Eddie Murphy completely gone to pursue his superstar movie career and the second most recognizable cast member, Joe Piscopo, having worn out his welcome after the 1983 - '84 season, executive producer Dick Ebersol was left without a star. The remaining cast members, including a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jim Belushi, had never quite fit in with the show and were largely dissatisfied with the way that they had been treated. Many people figured that Murphy leaving would finally signal the death knell for SNL.
Righting a Wrong
Instead of trying to develop another young talent like Murphy, Ebersol turned to more established comedians, including one who had almost been part of the original SNL cast. By 1984, Billy Crystal was already a well known entertainer after his stint on the sitcom Soap and his numerous talk show appearances where he imitated celebrities like boxer Mohammed Ali, but in 1974 Crystal had been cut from the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players on the eve of the show's debut. Why that happened depends largely on who tells the story, but whatever the case, when Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd rocketed to fame, Crystal wasn’t with them. Nor was he offered the spot that went to Bill Murray when Chase left after the first season. Ten years later, Crystal was finally being given the chance to right what he considered a wrong.
The Rest of the Gang
Along with Crystal, Ebersol brought in Martin Short, who had already been a cast member of Canada's SCTV (which launched the careers of John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Catherine O'Hara), as well as Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, fresh off their success in This Is Spinal Tap. Rich Hall, who had been part of an ensemble HBO comedy show called Not Necessarily the News, and Pamela Stephenson, who had been on the British precursor (Not the Nine O'clock News) of Hall's HBO show rounded out the new cast members. It was an odd turn of events considering that Crystal hosted SNL twice the season before he joined the cast, while Guest and Shearer had made a guest appearance as part of Spinal Tap.
Crystal, Short, and Guest wasted little time putting their stamp on the creative vacuum that they walked into. Ebersol was by all accounts a very good network executive, but he was not a comedian and didn’t come from a creative background. By the season opener, Crystal was already doing his Fernando Lamas impression ("You look mah-velous!") and Short had brought his Ed Grimley character with him from SCTV. By the third show, Crystal and Guest had worked up a breakout routine with their characters Willie and Frankie, who would continuously one-up each other with pain-inducing practices ("I hate it when that happens"). The show never missed a chance to exploit the new popular sketches — a hallmark of the Ebersol era — with Crystal doing his Fernando so frequently that the character almost deserved a separate credit in the opening theme.
More than any season before or since, the show relied on pre-taped segments, with Guest, Shearer, and Short preferring to work that way. While it went against the grain of SNL, some of the short films, particularly Shearer and Short playing aspiring male synchronized swimmers and Guest and Crystal portraying aged Negro League baseball stars were as good as anything that the show had produced.
Perhaps the best remembered episode of the season is the one hosted by wrestler Hulk Hogan and Mr. T to promote the first Wrestlemania. In the most famous segment, the pair appears with Crystal on his "Fernando Hideaway" sketch and can't keep a straight face. While Murphy returned to host and the Beatles' Ringo Starr took a turn, the other hosts included figures like Jesse Jackson, Howard Cosell, and Bob Uecker. The first show of the season didn't even have a host.
Additionally, there was little continuity with the show's fake news segment — called "Saturday Night News" instead of "Weekend Update" — with the show's host sometimes doing the anchoring and real newscaster Edwin Newman sitting in once before Guest finally took over midway through the season.
In stark contrast to the hosts, the seasons musical guests were a who's who of mid-80s pop, with acts like The Thompson Twins, Billy Ocean, Bryan Adams, and super-groups The Honey Drippers (featuring Robert Plant), and Power Station (featuring Robert Palmer) all making appearances.
When an industry-wide writers' strike halted production in early March 1985, the show didn’t return from the forced hiatus. The abbreviated season ended after just 17 episodes. NBC was unhappy with spiraling production costs and Ebersol was unhappy with his creative staff. Shearer had quit the show in January citing creative differences ("I was creative and they were different," he said later). Short and Guest didn't want to keep doing a live show. Louis-Dreyfus and Belushi (along with fellow holdover Mary Gross) had been used so little throughout the season that they wanted out. Crystal, enjoying the biggest success of his career, was seemingly the only one who wanted it to continue.
Ebersol demanded a retooling, wanting to change the format to a completely taped show and with possibly a fixed rotation of guest hosts (his ideas for the rotation included Piscopo and David Letterman). Instead, NBC briefly canceled the show. After rethinking things, the network's executives decided that they would agree to give SNL another chance… if its original creator, Lorne Michaels, would take back over.
Then and Now
Eventually, Michaels agreed to return to the show and retained none of the cast or writers from the previous season. Taking a page from Ebersol's book, Michaels tried to use established actors like Randy Quaid and Anthony Michael Hall (along with Robert Downey Jr. and Joan Cusack) to re-launch the show… which very nearly did lead to the show being canceled permanently. It wasn't until the following season when Michaels entrusted SNL to virtual unknowns like Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, Jon Lovitz, Jan Hooks, and Dennis Miller that the show started the run that finally established it as the institution it has become.
The goodwill that the show had gained from Crystal, Short and Guest's lone season helped carry it through Michaels' disastrous first season back. Thirty years later, the 1984 - '85 season remains an oddly alluring anomaly in the long comedic history of SNL.
Paramount via Everett Collection
Anyone alive in 1984 — and many that weren't — can instantly recognize the synthesizer strains of Beverly Hills Cop's theme song "Axel F." Eddie Murphy's blockbuster comedy topped Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be the year's top grossing movie. With talk that another sequel to the film is in the works, it's time to look back at what made the original such a smash. You might be able to hum along with the theme, but here are some fun facts that you might not know.
1. Sylvester Stallone was set to play Axel Foley right up until two weeks before filming was to begin, causing the production team to rewrite on the fly in order for Murphy to step into the role.
2. When director Martin Brest was offered the job by producer Jerry Bruckheimer he was lukewarm on the project, so he flipped a coin to decide whether or not to do it. When the film became a huge success, Brest had the quarter that he used framed.
3. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton did an improv bit during their joint audition that ended up in the movie. It's the scene in the film where Reinhold's Rosemont tells Ashton's Taggart that the average American has "five pounds of undigested red meat in his bowels."
4. The script bounced around Hollywood for a long time and was originally a more traditional, tense actioner. Among the directors that turned down the more serious script were Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg. Before Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Al Pacino, and James Caan were each attached to the Axel role at various times.
5. Even though Reinhold was only two years removed from playing a high school senior in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the actor is four years older than Murphy, who was only 23-years-old when Beverly Hills Cop was released.
6. The T-shirt that Murphy wears in the film is from a real Detroit area high school (Mumford), which was inundated with requests for the shirt. The section of the movie filmed in Detroit also featured Gil Hill, who actually did work for the city police department, as Murphy's boss. Hill went on to be a city councilman in the Motor City.
7. The Beverly Hills police in the movie use something called a "satellite tracking system," which the film team made up as a way to get around a sticky plot issue. The government's first GPS didn’t become fully operational until 1995… 11 years after Beverly Hills Cop.
8. Harold Faltermeyer, who scored a Top 10 hit with the instrumental "Axel F," also wrote Glenn Frey's Top 10 hit from the soundtrack, "The Heat Is On." The movie produced two other hits in The Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" and Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude."
9. Originally, the art museum where Axel goes to find his friend Jenny once he gets to Los Angeles was supposed to have two men working in it. When Bronson Pinchot — who would later star in the television show Perfect Strangers — auditioned with the weird Eastern European accent that his character Serge affects, Brest made the role bigger to allow more interaction between Pinchot and Murphy. The character was such a hit that Pinchot's sitcom character used a variation of the same accent.
10. Stallone retained his affinity for the original script. His film Cobra was largely based on the ideas that he had for Beverly Hills Cop. That film, along with Beverly Hills Cop 2, co-starred Stallone's one-time wife Brigitte Nielsen.
11. The film was the first comedy to open on over 2,000 screens upon its release. Its success helped set the stage for the "wide openings" that became the norm in later years.
12. The movie was the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time until The Hangover finally knocked it from its perch. It made over $230 million at the box office in the United States. Adjusted for inflation, however, that would translate to over $650 million now.