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'SNL' 40: Eddie Murphy nixed Bill Cosby bit, Norm Macdonald says

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Theo Wargo/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

In a series of tweets yesterday evening, Norm Macdonald wrote about his experience working on the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special, and he revealed that Eddie Murphy was supposed to play Bill Cosby during that Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch. Macdonald’s tweets are required reading for fans of the show; they are both insightful and reverent, showing how the franchise’s comedic geniuses have kept it alive for so many years. 

Macdonald was dismayed that the 40th anniversary sketch was supposed to contain variety of impressions. “Celebrity Jeopardy was never about impressions,” Macdonald wrote. To Macdonald, “Celebrity Jeopardy was about hope,” and he added: “It was about the hope of one man, Alex Trebek, the hope that never died. The audacious hope that never let the facts of the past interfere.” But then, Macdonald said, Steve Higgins had the idea to have the category be “Potent Potables,” and Eddie Murphy to appear as Bill Cosby. 

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But as the show drew closer, Murphy had not yet agreed to do it. After describing the celebrities that descended for the show, Macdonald discussed the impact of Murphy’s arrival.

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Kenan Thompson ended up playing Cosby. You can read all of Macdonald’s tweets over at Storify.  

Update: Cosby released a statement to NBC News through a spokesperson: “I am very appreciate of Eddie and I applaud his actions.”

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