Tommy Davidson claims he was part of the television series based on Eddie Murphy‘s 1998 film “Coming to America.” The beloved comedian opened up about the high and lows of his career, but Davidson says the show never panned out.
“This is about the failure of a TV show that I worked my butt off for, as the star,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “And when it was all said and done, I was left with nothing.”
The “In Living Color” actor mentioned that he started receiving recognition before starring in the 1990s comedy sitcom. He remembers gaining opportunities such as a a role on the CBS sitcom, “Murphy Brown” and a TV and movie development deal with Disney. The 58-year-old also recalls auditioning for comedy shows like “A Different World” and “The Cosby Show.” He also received an offer from Murphy’s production company to star in the TV pilot for “Coming to America.”
According to Davidson, “The show was going to center around Prince Tariq, the little brother of the Prince Akeem character in the movie, and it was going to be about what his life is like when he comes to America.”
After not landing the role in “A Different World,” he chose to pass on deals with Disney and “Murphy Brown” to play Prince Tariq in ‘Coming to America.'”
“The Woo” star said, “I chose it because it was Eddie Murphy — another brother, another Black dude doing really well you know? It was perfect because, next to Eddie Murphy, I was the funniest guy at the time.” He continued, “His company had an option with Paramount to do television shows, which is huge, and this is the one he wanted to do. And it was starring me! How could it be better?”
He said he “didn’t get any help” from Murphy’s team to move forward with the series, which was never picked up.
“I just got left there with the studio and a writer [Ken Hecht] who was really out of touch with comedy,” Davidson explained. “He had written for Black sitcoms from years ago, like ‘Good Times,’ but the world had changed by 1989.”
Davidson described Murphy as a “superstar” who was “worth a lot in Hollywood.” He said he was “devastated…hurt…frustrated and scared” after missing out on his “first big opportunity.” He felt Murphy should have done more to advocate for the “Coming to America” series, noting that he wished things worked out differently.
“He should have, yes. I was left alone to fend for myself,” stated Davidson. “And I say that in awareness of how the universe also works itself out and how much I love him,” he shared. “It could have helped, but who knows if it would have made a difference? So I disliked the behavior, but I love the man. And everything happens for a reason.”
With the “Coming To America” show not moving forward, Davidson went back to what he knows performing on stages and at comedy clubs, including a headlining a room at The Comedy Store. He solidified his place in comedy after sharing the same stage as vets like Murphy and Richard Pryor, which opened many doors for his career.