Eddie Murphy to host "Saturday Night Live" for first time in 35 years

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

It's been 35 years since Eddie Murphy screamed, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" But on December 21, the comedian will return to host "Saturday Night Live" once again, SNL announced on Twitter Monday.

The SNL alum last hosted an episode of the show in 1984. Murphy returned with other former cast members for the show's 40th anniversary episode in 2015, but his short performance was underwhelming to many, and he later explained to the Washington Post why he did not reprise any of his past characters.

Murphy said he was asked to play Bill Cosby in the anniversary special — something he wasn't comfortable doing. Murphy has in the past spoken about Cosby's distaste for him and his comedy, and at that time, Cosby was battling sexual assault allegations for which he was later convicted.

Perhaps Murphy has been too busy for stand-up. He's been creating blockbuster franchises like "Beverly Hills Cop," "Dr. Doolittle" and "Shrek" – and he has 10 kids. "SNL 40"

"There's nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you're just hurting people," Murphy told the Washington Post. "You're hurting him. You're hurting his accusers. I was like, 'Hey, I'm coming back to SNL for the anniversary, I'm not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.' "

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Current cast member Keenan Thompson ended up playing Cosby during the special, and Murphy briefly appeared on stage after Chris Rock payed homage to Murphy for inspiring his career in comedy.

During his monologue, Rock, like many people, credited Murphy with saving SNL in the 1980s. "If SNL hadn't hired Murphy, this show would've lasted half as long as Baywatch," Rock joked.

Then Murphy, wearing a three-piece suit, thanked SNL for being a big part of his life from 1980 to 1984. He didn't crack any jokes during that anniversary special. He hasn't done live comedy in decades.

However, after Murphy told Jerry Seinfeld during an episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" that he might make a return to standup, several publicans reported that Murphy had entered into negotiations with Netflix. The streaming platform will reportedly pay Murphy upwards of $70 million for a comedy special, Vanity Fair reports.

Perhaps hosting SNL is Murphy's way of dipping his toes back in the water before recording that standup special.

Live from your timeline, we’ve got some news. #SNL pic.twitter.com/7HrcoM8OPg

— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) August 26, 2019

An array of other celebrities are also expected to grace the SNL stage during the upcoming season. Woody Harrelson will host the first episode on September 28, with musical guest Billie Eilish.

October 5 will be hosted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with Taylor Swift performing. And on October 12, David Harbour will host and Camilla Cabello will perform. Kirsten Stewart will host on November 2.

The hosts for the episodes in between Stewart and Murphy have not been announced, nor have either of their musical guests.

First published on August 26, 2019 / 5:07 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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