Six years ago, Eddie Murphy proposed taking Ocean’s Eleven and inverting it. An all-black cast would play Trump Tower servants who join forces to steal tens of millions from their overbearing boss. And rather than be ace criminals, they’d be bumbling, law-abiding citizens who have to learn their new craft on the fly.
Producer Brian Grazer and widely despised director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) immediately started kicking around names such as Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Jamie Foxx to team with Murphy in Tower Heist. Over the years, they paid a dozen or so top screenwriters to take a whack at this story. But Hollywood’s finest were repeatedly stumped.
Read the whole thing there.
By the way, Tower Heist features some good casting and/or rewriting to fit the cast. For example, I've long wondered why Matthew Broderick is considered a star. He seems lazy, puffy, and unenergetic to me. I guess it's because Ferris Beuller was a hit 25 years ago and he's been coasting on that every since. So, here he's cast as resident of Trump Tower, a former Merrill Lynch trader, who has gotten foreclosed upon. He's introduced with lines something like these:
Ben Stiller as manager: "Sir, the bank insists that you vacate today."
Matthew Broderick (looking puffy, probably from heavy duty anti-depressants): "The market went up 106 points today. Do you know why?"
Ben Stiller: "No, sir."
Matthew Broderick (mournful and slightly hysterical): "Neither do I. I used to know, or I thought I did. But now I don't."
In other words, Matthew Broderick's character, a stock trader who got lucky early in his career, is pretty similar to Matthew Broderick, an actor who got lucky early in his career. And guess what? Broderick is good at playing a passive, self-pitying has-been.