One of my all time favorites from Eddie Murphy’s epic time on Saturday Night Live was him interviewing Ron Howard. I especially love the “You made a movie about pimps and there ain’t no brothers in it? I don’t know whether to thank you or punch you in the mouth!” line.
[Open on “FOCUS ON FILM” graphic. Dissolve to close-up of Raheem Abdul Mohammed on a set decorated with movie posters]
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: Welcome to “Focus on Film.” I’m Raheem Abdul Mohammed, and I’m very happy to have as a very special guest on my show tonight, Mr. Opie Cunningham himself, Ron Howard.
[Applause. Camera zooms out to a two-shot of Raheem and Ron]
Ron Howard: Thank you. Well. Hello, Raheem, it’s good to be here.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: It’s good to have you here, man. Look, tell me somethin’. What was it like workin’ on the “Andy Griffith Show”?
Ron Howard: Well, I tell you those were great years, but I’d really rather talk about my directing career right now.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: [interrupting] Yeah. But, look look look. Listen, man, tell me somethin’. How did the Fonz, right, every time he beat on the jukebox, how’d he make it come on all the time? And was you, um, Andy Taylor’s son or was you Howard Cunningham’s son?
Ron Howard: Look, look, Raheem, I’m not Opie Taylor and I’m not Richie Cunningham. I’m Ron Howard, I’m a grown man. You know I’m directing now? Did you see the new movie I have out, “Night Shift”?
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: Was there any black people in it?
Ron Howard: No.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: I didn’t see it, then. What was it about?
Ron Howard: Oh, well, it was, uh, the story about these two pimps.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: It’s the story about two pimps and wasn’t no brothers in it? I don’t know whether to say “Thank you” or punch you in your mouth, man.
Ron Howard: Well, the next film that I’m going to be directing…
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: Yeah, but look look look, man, nobody cares about the movies you’re directing. To us and to me, you’re always gonna be little Opie, you know that?
Ron Howard: Well, thank you. That’s nice, but I’m a grown man now, you know, and I have a wife, I have a mustache, beautiful baby daughter.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: You got a daughter?
Ron Howard: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: Wow, man. I just can’t picture little Opie Cunningham doin’ it. I can’t picture nobody wantin’ to do it with little Opie Cunningham neither.
Ron Howard: Well actually, Raheem, I’ve done it a lot of times.
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: [grinning] Wow, Opie Cunningham, a sex machine. You know, if you didn’t shave that–if you shave that mustache off your face, you would still look exactly like Opie Cunningham. That’s why you grew it, right? ‘Cause people walk up to you on the street and say “Hey, Opie Cunningham,” right?
Ron Howard: All right. Let’s talk about…
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: No no, let’s talk about — Look, I know, speakin’ for me, Raheem, and for the rest of the people in the country, we would love to see our little Opie, I want my little Opie, I love Opie, I love him. And I know I would love to have my little Opie Cunningham back. I know the rest of the people out here agree with me right? Let’s get it! Opie Cunningham! Opie Cunningham, come on! Opie Cunningham!… [audience joins him in chanting “Opie Cunningham!”]
[Raheem pulls out an electric razor and tries to shave off Ron Howard’s mustache]
Ron Howard: [Protests and takes razor from Raheem] Hey, knock that off! Hey, come on, I’m not Opie Cunningham. I’m Ron Howard, you understand? Ron Howard! I’m not the person you watch on television. And I’m not cutting off my mustache for you, the public, or anybody else, you understand, because I like it. Me, Ron Howard, the director. Not Opie Taylor, not Richie Cunningham. And I have just one more thing to say to you, Raheem: Sit on it, bucko! [Removes his wireless microphone and exits]
[Zoom back to close-up of Raheem]
Raheem Abdul Mohammed: [angrily] Well, ladies and gentlemen, I see the truth finally comes out, huh? Opie Cunningham is a selfish bastard! [Yelling offstage] Hey, what do “bucko” mean? What?! [To camera] I’m gon’ kill him! I’m Raheem Abdul Mohammed.
Which leads me to this essay I wrote a while back about Eddie and his current life path
Party all the Time – Eddie Murphy
I’m totally frustrated with Eddie Murphy, and this song has absolutely nothing to do with it. I actually think it’s a hundred times more credible than anything Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, etc, etc, etc, etc.
Here’s why I’m enraged with Eddie. When Britney Spears sells out, really who cares? When Elton John sells out, really who cares? Hell, even when Robert DeNiro sells out, it’s all part of the ballgame I hate but understand.
But Eddie is different to me. Saturday Night Live is still on the air because of Eddie Murphy and the absurdly enormous amount of talent he possesses. In the early 80’s four guys watched that show for Joe Piscopo, and the rest of the nation screamed fuck this sketch when is Eddie going to be back on? Coming to America is to me the greatest black comedy ever made. Aside from keeping a music career afloat there is nothing he can’t do, and I idolized him for it.
Eddie once spoke out against the Oscars at the Oscars. Eddie once considered doing August Wilson’s Fences with James Earl Jones.
William Goldman, who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, once said that you could tell how much a film maker had sold out by the number of sequels they had been part of, since the sequel more often than not is simply a way to cash in on a once promising idea. Eddie Murphy has more money than God, and as far as I know no actor has ever appeared in more sequels, not even C3PO and R2D2. Eddie Murphy didn’t appear in a dramatic role until Dreamgirls, just a rehash of the ol’ James Brown Hot Tub Party routine, was nominated for an Oscar and immediately went back to making trash. How much money does he need? Like I said he can do anything artistically, I just wish he hadn’t decided to be king of semi-naughty children’s movies.