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Collection Title: Sheffield (David) Papers

Press Release:

MISSISSIPPI SCREENWRITER DONATES MANUSCRIPTS TO USM
August 18, 1997

Prominent Hollywood screenwriter and Gulf Coast native David Sheffield has donated to the Department of Manuscripts and Archives in the McCain Library and Archives of the USM University Libraries twenty manuscripts of screenplays and television shows which he wrote between 1983 and 1995.

Mr. Sheffield's gift includes the screenplays of Police Academy II and the Eddie Murphy films Coming to America and The Nutty Professor, which he wrote with Barry Blaustein, his co-author of many film and television scripts since they were writers for NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1980's. Mr. Sheffield donated several drafts of some of the screenplays as well as final shooting scripts which had been annotated in the margins by studio executives, stars, and directors. He commented, "Some young screenwriters might find in this marginalia a tale that is cautionary if not downright horrifying."

One of the manuscripts is described by Sheffield as his personal favorite. It is a comedy about Louisiana politics which he wrote with his brother Buddy in 1986 entitled "Kings of the South." Another manuscript is the final script of a 1983 "Saturday Night Live" show which featured New York City Mayor Ed Koch as guest host. The script reflects pencilled changes and cuts made by Sheffield and Blaustein up until the show went on the air live. Mr. Sheffield describes the resulting script as "a hieroglyphic guide to the terrors of live television."

Sheffield and Blaustein, working with Eddie Murphy, were responsible for some of Murphy's most memorable characters on "Saturday Night Live," including Buckwheat, Gumby, and Mr. Robinson. The Eddie Murphy movies for which they wrote the screenplays, Coming to America, The Nutty Professor, and Boomerang, have grossed world-wide more than a half-billion dollars.

Their teleplay "What's Alan Watching?," written as the pilot of a television series, received the National TV Critics Award in 1989. For their work on Coming to America, they were awarded the NAACP's Image Award and approval for writing for African American characters, although both Sheffield and Blaustein are white. Buddy Sheffield received the same award for his work as head writer of the television show "In Living Color." In 1995 David Sheffield was invited by USM to address the Fall Commencement graduating class.

Sheffield grew up in Biloxi and graduated from USM in 1972. While attending USM, he worked for WDAM-TV as a reporter and co-anchored the week-end news program. After graduation, one of his writing projects with his brother Buddy was the Sheffield Ensemble Theatre, which toured the country performing the brothers' original plays for children.

He joined the writing staff of "Saturday Night Live" in 1980 and became head writer and supervising producer in 1983. In 1984 he and his partner Blaustein moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing for films full-time.

Sheffield is married to Cynthia Walker of Laurel, who is also a screenwriter. Together they have edited since 1985 the literary journal Saturday Afternoon, which has published the poetry and short fiction of other USM graduates such as Joseph Bosco and Dave Berry, a member of USM's Center for Writers. The Sheffields generously donated to USM copies of all of the issues of Saturday Afternoon published to date. The Sheffields reside in Los Angeles but return frequently to Biloxi, where they keep their 48-foot boat, the Skipjack.


Accession Number: AM 97-6

Inclusive Dates: 1983-1995

Volume: 1.3 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mr. David Sheffield.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Screenplays and television scripts written by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein or by David Sheffield and his brother Buddy Sheffield:

  1. "Saturday Night Live" (May 14, 1983), hosted by New York Mayor Ed Koch; including colored re-write sheets and annotations.
  2. "Police Academy [Two]" [by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield], Final Shooting Script (May 27, 1983).
  3. "The Butterscotch Kid" by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, First Draft (May 17, 1985).
  4. "Sweet Inspiration" (The Butterscotch Kid) by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Second Draft (August 30, 1985).
  5. "The Butterscotch Kid" (Working Title) by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Second Draft (September 1, 1985). Paramount Pictures/Eddie Murphy Productions.
  6. "The Last Holiday" by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, Second Draft (March 14, 1986).
  7. "My Brother's Keeper" by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Second Draft (January 6, 1987).
  8. ["Kings of the South" by David Sheffield and Buddy Sheffield, First Draft, undated]. No title page; no cover; annotated.
  9. "Kings of the South" by David Sheffield and Buddy Sheffield, First Draft (April 10, 1987). In red cover.
  10. "The Quest" (working title) [final title "Coming to America", screenplay by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, story by Eddie Murphy, Second Draft Revised (October 5, 1987), as per Landis.
  11. "Zamunda Project" [final title "Coming to America"], screenplay by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, story by Eddie Murphy, Final Shooting Script (October 21, 1987).
  12. "The Alan Hoffman Variety Hour" (working title) Pilot, by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Bob Tischler; First Draft (August 19, 1988). Eddie Murphy Television Enterprises in association with Paramount Network Television.
  13. "What's Alan Watching?" (working title) Pilot, by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Bob Tischler; Fifth Draft (February 9, 1989). Eddie Murphy Television Enterprises in association with Paramount Network Television.
  14. "What's Alan Watching?" Storyboards, Created by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Bob Tischler; storyboards by Jeff Balsmeyer (undated).
  15. "The Gelfin" by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, Sixth Draft (January 20, 1994). Copyright 1994 Imagine Films Entertainment. Dave Sheffield's annotations from meeting with studio executives.
  16. "The Nutty Professor" by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, (based on the Jerry Lewis film), Second Draft (April 15, 1994).
  17. "Sleeping with Twins" by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Third Draft (January 6, 1995). Dave Sheffield's annotations. With Warner Bros. inter-office memo to Witt-Thomas Productions (Nov. 4, 1994) suggesting changes in script; annotated by Dave Sheffield.
  18. "The Nutty Professor" by Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield, Rewrite by Tom Shadyac and Steve Oedekerk, Second Draft (March 27, 1995). Copyright 1995 Imagine Entertainment. Annotated.
  19. "The Gelfin" by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, Seventh Draft (June 6, 1995).
  20. "Future Newspaper Idea" (working title) by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, First Draft (November 9, 1995).

NOTE: The materials in this collection are copyrighted.


Accession Number: AM 97-14

Inclusive Dates: 1985-1997

Volume: 12 vols.

Given By: Donated by Ms. Cynthia Walker.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Numbers 1-12 (1985-1997) of the literary journal Saturday Afternoon, published annually by David Sheffield and his wife Cynthia Walker.


Accession Number: AM 97-18

Inclusive Dates: 1996

Volume: 1 item

Given By: Acquired by purchase.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Video cassette of The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy, with screenplay by David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein.

Publications:

Copies of the following are available in the Cook Library:

The Nutty Professor, video recording (Universal City, CA: MCA Universal Home Video, 1996), call number PN1997 .N9889 1996.

Hill, Doug, Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live (New York: Vintage Books, 1987, c1986), call number PN1992.77.S273 H5 1987.


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