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Coming to America (TV pilot)

1989 television pilot

Top 3 Coming to America (TV pilot) related articles

Coming to America
Based onComing to America (1988 film)
Written byKen Hecht
Screenplay byBarry W. Blaustein
David Sheffield
Story byEddie Murphy
Directed byTony Singletary
StarringTommy Davidson
Paul Bates
John Hancock
Hattie Winston
Paris Vaughan
A.J. Johnson
C. Darnell Rose
Francis MacGuire
ComposerJohn Beasley
Country of origin  United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes1
Executive producersKen Hecht
Eddie Murphy
ProducersBruce Johnson (supervising producer)
Mara Lopez (associate producer)
Mark McClafferty (supervising producer)
EditorJohn Doutt
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24 minutes
Production companiesEddie Murphy Productions
Paramount Network Television Productions
Original networkCBS
Original releaseJuly 4, 1989 (1989-07-04)
Related showsCBS Summer Playhouse

Coming to America is the name of a proposed weekly sitcom, based on the 1988 film of the same name. The pilot[1] ultimately went unsold,[2] but it was still televised on CBS on July 4, 1989 as part of the CBS Summer Playhouse[3][4] pilot anthology series.[5]

Coming to America (TV pilot) Intro articles: 2


Irresponsible[6] Prince Tariq of Zamunda has been exiled to attend college in America by the king, his brother[7] Akeem. It however, takes only nine days living in Queens, New York[8] for Tariq to blow his allowance. So in order to make ends meet, Tariq and his assistant Oha, find jobs in the diner owned by their landlord, Carl Mackey.

At one point in the pilot, Tariq says in reference to Eddie Murphy, “I'm a Beverly Hills Cop, you're a Beverly Hills cop too and in 48 hours, we're Trading Places.”[9] Also, Tariq at another point, shows up at the diner with a copy of The Art of the Deal, which he explains that someone threw at him. Tariq believes he's "just like this Donald Trump guy," and that he'll get rich by buying and selling property, despite the fact that he doesn't have any money.

Coming to America (TV pilot) Plot articles: 9


The pilot starred Tommy Davidson as Prince Tariq, Paul Bates reprising his role as Oha from the film, and John Hancock[10] as their landlord, Carl Mackey. Also among the cast are Hattie Winston and Paris Vaughan as Carl's wife and daughter respectively.

Coming to America (TV pilot) Cast articles: 3


The show was produced by Eddie Murphy Television Enterprises in association with Paramount. Furthermore, Murphy was listed as co-executive producer.[11] The pilot was greenlit as part of a first-look deal[12] with Paramount, Eddie Murphy, and CBS. Had the pilot been successful, then CBS would've proceeded with an initial 13-episode run.

In 2020, Bonsu Thompson of Level wrote about the would be show in his article "An Oral History of the Coming To America Show You Never Knew About".[13] Thompson wrote that the pilot floundered because it was written by a Jewish writer, Ken Hecht,[14] “who had made a name penning Black sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and Webster and reportedly took a rigid, I-know-best approach to comedy".[15] Thompson also stated the pilot “didn't take advantage of Tommy Davidson's gifts." But, what Hecht was able to do with family sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and Webster "did not rule in 1989--and a suspect fascination with Africans eating insects didn't help," he continued.

According to Tommy Davidson,[16] Ken Hecht came from the golden age of comedy, where he knew about the setup, joke, joke, and another joke but didn't have a feel for Eddie Murphy's style of comedy nor a feel for Black pride. Davidson added that Murphy never visited the set to see the show being filmed. Ultimately, Paramount and CBS, knowing that they had a turkey on their hands, aired it on the Fourth of July, less than a year after it was shot.

Coming to America (TV pilot) Production articles: 12

Critical response

Joan Hanauer wrote in UPI on July 3, 1989[17] that the pilot was perfectly awful. She added that if your idea of humor is seeing a fat man's pants split in back when he bends over, then you will find Coming to America screamingly funny.

In 2015, Molly Fitzpatrick of Splinter said[18] that Tommy Davidson's Tariq lacks Eddie Murphy's Akeem's irresistible Pollyannaish charm from the film, and the pilot mostly functions as a disjointed vehicle for Davidson's Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson impressions.

Coming to America (TV pilot) Critical response articles: 5


  1. ^ Haithman, Diane (March 24, 1989). "TV Pilots Ready for an Air War". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Jay, Robert. "UNSOLD PILOTS ON TELEVISION, 1967-1989". TV Obscurities.
  3. ^ Smith, Ernie (January 23, 2017). "When Networks Aired Their Failed TV Pilots in the Middle of the Summer". Atlas Obscura.
  4. ^ Brennan, Patricia (July 2, 1989). "E.G. MARSHALL HOSTS 'NATIONAL BAND CONCERT'". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "'Outtakes' - 'Coming To America' The TV Series". Deseret News. Deseret News Publishing Company. December 8, 1988. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010, 2d ed. p. 1817.
  7. ^ Evans, Bradford (October 16, 2016). "Here Are a Bunch of Rare TV Pilots Starring Bob Odenkirk". Vulture.
  8. ^ "Coming to America (1989)". Turner Classic Movies.
  9. ^ Jude, Tamara (May 20, 2017). "15 Things You Never Knew About Coming To America". ScreenRant.
  10. ^ Aquino, Tara (June 29, 2018). "10 Fun Facts About Coming to America". Mental Floss.
  11. ^ Wiese, Jason (February 23, 2021). "Coming To America: 9 Behind-The-Scenes Stories About The Eddie Murphy Classic". Cinema Blend.
  12. ^ "Eddie Murphy Signs Pact With Paramount". The New York Times. August 27, 1987.
  13. ^ Thompson, Bonsu (August 20, 2020). "An Oral History of the 'Coming to America' TV Show You Never Knew About". LEVEL.
  14. ^ Baxter, Joseph (March 4, 2021). "Why the Coming to America TV Series Was Made to Fail". Den of Geek.
  15. ^ Jones, Monique (August 25, 2020). "Here's Why A 'Coming To America' TV Show, Starring Tommy Davidson, Never Got Picked Up". Shadow and Cat.
  16. ^ Davidson, Tommy. Living in Color: What's Funny About Me: Stories from In Living Color, Pop ... p. 58.
  17. ^ Hanauer, Joan (July 3, 1989). "'Coming to America' going nowhere". UPI.
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Molly (April 11, 2015). "Reminder: A terrible 'Coming to America' TV pilot happened in 1989". Splinter News. Retrieved August 31, 2019.

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