The revival of “Beverly Hills Cop,” which landed at CBS Tuesday with a pilot production order and hefty penalty if not picked up to series, started with talk last fall between Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner of doing a fourth installment of Paramount’s action-comedy franchise.
Murphy and Ratner had finished working on “Tower Heist” earlier in the year and were preparing to team up for the Oscars (though that was not to be for either man). But even before “Tower Heist” opened to underwhelming B.O., Murphy had reservations about bringing his Axel Foley character back to the big screen. He did, however, think it could work as a TV series if the storyline centered around the character’s son, also on the Beverly Hills police beat.
As Murphy’s reps at WME helped him shape the concept, they suggested a range of comedy writers to execute the next-generation concept. But Murphy’s focus was very clear: He didn’t want a comedy writer, he wanted a seasoned cop writer. Enter Shawn Ryan, creator of “The Shield” and one of TV’s most sought-after showrunners.
Ryan pounced on the idea within minutes of being pitched the idea on the phone by his WME rep, and he and Murphy clicked at their first lunch meeting.
Meanwhile, Murphy reached out to Paramount toppers Brad Grey and Rob Moore to secure the rights to field a remake. By multiple accounts, Grey and Moore were quick to give their blessing to shop the project. (Par, of course, retains a financial stake in TV adaptation.) Around this same time the project was offered to Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the first two “Beverly Hills Cop” blockbusters from 1984 and 1987 (“Beverly Hills Cop 3” fizzled at the B.O. in 1994). But Bruckheimer passed on bringing it to his busy Warner Bros. TV-based company, which cleared the way for a formal pact with Ryan.
With Ryan was on board, the project naturally settled at Sony Pictures TV, as Ryan’s Midd Kid Prods. banner is based at the Culver City studio. While Ryan and Murphy honed their ideas for the show, Ryan had the high-class problem of having an ambitious pilot ordered by ABC, “The Last Resort,” which went the distance to a series order and is set to bow Sept. 27.
Last week, Murphy and Ryan finally made the rounds of the Big Four networks in a whirlwind series of pitches that yielded four hefty offers. Murphy earned high marks for his charm and humor in the meetings and vision for rebooting the franchise. He’s committed to appear in the pilot and will likely be a recurring character should it be ordered to series.
By the start of the Labor Day weekend, Sony, Murphy and Ryan had narrowed the field of contenders to CBS and Fox. CBS ultimately got the edge thanks to its track record with action-dramas such as “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Hawaii 5-0.” CBS Entertainment topper Nina Tassler impressed them with the depth of her interest in the project and in working with Ryan again (he ran the Eye drama “The Unit” from 2006-2009) as well as Murphy. Murphy got a big laugh out of Tassler when he asked her during the meeting if “Jack Lord showed up to the ‘Hawaii 5-0’ meeting.”
The new-model “Beverly Hills Cop” revolves around Aaron Foley, a blue-collar cop in the land of the rich and famous who struggles to get out of his larger-than-life father’s shadow.
In addition to Ryan and Murphy, Marney Hochman Nash of Ryan’s Midd Kid Prods. is an exec producer.