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Eddie Murphy to play Marion Barry in Spike Lee-directed biopic

Though his hopes to return to “edgy" material were temporarily dashed when he backed out of the raunchy reach-around that is the Oscar ceremony, Eddie Murphy has another project that could stir up talk of a “comeback” for the second or third time. Murphy has just signed on to star in Spike Lee’s HBO biopic of Marion Barry, the civil rights activist turned Washington D.C. “mayor-for-life” turned go-to punchline for anyone making a “crack cocaine” joke from the years 1990 to whatever year Being Bobby Brown premiered. The project is HBO’s second stab at telling Barry’s story, having first developed a take more than a decade ago with Jamie Foxx in the lead and a script by Chris Rock—one that was probably less than sympathetic, given that approximately 40 percent of all Marion Barry jokes came from Chris Rock. This version has a script from Three Kings screenwriter John Ridley (currently working on Lee’s upcoming series Da Brick) and source material that includes the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, And The Decline Of Washington, D.C. from journalists Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood—an account that wasn’t all that flattering either, but at least this one will be thoroughly researched. The film is as-yet-untitled. It probably won’t be called Bitch Set Me Up: The Marion Barry Story, even though it should be.

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