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Eddie Murphy to star in biopic on Washington ex-mayor

WASHINGTON (AFP) ― Eddie Murphy is to star in a television film under development by HBO about Washington’s colorful and controversial former mayor Marion Barry, the U.S. cable channel said Tuesday.

In an email to AFP, it confirmed a report in The Washington Post that Spike Lee will direct Murphy ― seen most recently in the comedy caper “Tower Heist” ― in the still-untitled project.

Barry was well into his third term as mayor when, in an FBI sting operation caught on video, he was busted in January 1990 for use and possession of crack cocaine ― just as the U.S. capital was in the grips of a crack epidemic.

Sentenced to six months behind bars, the Mississippi-born sharecropper’s son recaptured the mayoralty in 1994, sealing his reputation as a political survivor. Today at age 75 he still sits on the city council.

HBO’s biopic is likely to be based on a 1994 book about the Barry years at city hall, “Dream City,” after it bought an option to use it from its authors, journalists Harry Jaffee and Tom Sherwood.

HBO previously featured the former mayor in a 2009 documentary titled “The Nine Lives of Marion Barry.”