Comic at Ease in $30 Million Trial
Mar. 13, 1987
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) _ Eddie Murphy laughed so hard he apologized to the judge after a former manager who wants $30 million of the comedian's earnings contended Murphy used some of his material on ''Saturday Night Live.''
Irving ''King'' Broder, 64, of North Bellmore, said in his fourth day of testimony Thursday that Murphy's imitation of Buckwheat, an ''Our Gang'' movie character, was similar to an act Broder created for a group, ''The Identical Triplets.''
In the act, Murphy was teamed with two white comedians, Broder said.
Asked if he ever saw NBC's ''Saturday Night Live,'' which made Murphy a star, Broder replied, ''I even saw some of my own material. I wrote some of the lines for The Identical Triplets.''
The remark caused Murphy to throw his head back, let go his booming laugh, and then put his head in his face and slump in his chair.
After the long laugh, he looked up and said to the judge, ''I'm sorry.''
After the trial ended for the day, Murphy said Broder had nothing to do with his ''Buckwheat'' character.
''I know he wasn't telling the truth,'' Murphy said.
Murphy, who lives in Englewood, N.J., said he was looking forward to testifying after watching Broder, who said Thursday on cross-examination that he could have taken up to 35 percent of Murphy's gross earnings under the terms of the contract.
''I've never been on the stand before and I've got a lot of stories to tell,'' Murphy said. ''You're only nervous if you're telling lies.''
Murphy, who has entertained spectators and participants for four days, is being sued for $30 million, allegedly 25 percent of his earnings since 1980, by Broder, 64, who says he has a valid manager's contract signed by Murphy.
Each day since the trial started Monday before a six-person jury and Justice Kenneth Molloy at state Supreme Court, Murphy has appeared more relaxed and eager to break the monotony with humor.
He wrote a funny line Monday in a reporter's notebook, broke up Tuesday's session with laughter and on Wednesday mimicked a courtroom artist, drawing her as she worked.
On Thursday, he signed a few autographs, including one for the daughters of Marcia Baron, a 4-foot-10, 38-year-old Roslyn resident who was at the courthouse on other business.
''Hi, shorty,'' he said as she approached him during a recess. As Ms. Baron pulled out her billfold to get paper for the autographs, Murphy spotted her cash, grabbed two $100 bills and started to run.
A laughing Murphy quickly brought them back.
When someone remarked that participants in the trial should wear identification, Murphy hurried over to the defendant's table and in first- grade printing style fashioned a nametag that said, ''Hi, I'm Eddie.'' He wore it a short time.
He also smiled about the Courthouse Cafeteria Controversy, although he apparently was not responsible.
The cafeteria, capitalizing on the dispute with specials to boost business, was offering an Eddie Murphy, ham and eggs on a roll for $1.25, and a King Broder, two eggs on a roll or bagel for $1.50.
Someone devised a contest to see whose special sold best and the results - Murphy 15, Broder 2 - were posted on the menu board.
A lawyer complained, the judge suggested the cafeteria remain neutral and the specials were canceled.