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Disorder in the court: Lights, camera, action and Eddie Murphy


The young actor strode confidently into the courtroom-turned-movie set to take his place and wait for a cue. The setting was Courtroom 600 in the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse.

It was a bit of Hollywood comes to Baltimore as the filming of Eddie Murphy's new movie, "Distinguished Gentleman," began yesterday. Mr. Murphy plays a con man elected to Congress. It also stars Baltimorean Charles Dutton, who appears on the Fox network TV show "Roc."

The bright lights that were set up overhead made the courtroom abysmally hot. But none of the dozens of crew members swirling around the room or extras who stood around seemed to notice.

Neither did the young actor who was outfitted in a very expensive looking gray suit. He of the boyish friendly face, the close cropped Afro haircut and the neat mustache joked around with another actor as crew members fussed around them.

Could that actor be Eddie, as in mega-star Eddie Murphy, whose movie is being filmed for three days in that very courtroom?

Well, actually, this particular young actor was Eddie Murphy's stand-in. But, hey! Don't knock it, said Houston, the actor who goes by that name only.

"It's great!" he said about life as a stand-in. To underscore his delight at being an Eddie Murphy stand-in, Houston gave his rendition of that famous Eddie Murphy "uh uh uh" laugh.

The filming at the courthouse began at 7 a.m. yesterday and lasted for more than 12 hours. Michael T. Evans was one of the extras who had arrived at the courthouse at 7 a.m., but by 2 p.m. he hadn't actually been in a scene. "It's a lot of standing around," said Mr. Evans, who usually spends his working hours as part of a ground maintenance crew for United Airlines at Dulles Airport.

Still, there was no escaping the excitement of being a part -- no matter now small -- of a major motion picture.

Crew members yelled out "Quiet! Quiet! Rolling!" Then everyone froze in their spots as an actor sat in the seat usually reserved for the judge and read his line: "There's no further business, our caucus stands adjourned."

Eventually, the real Eddie Murphy did walk on the set to read his lines. He plays a character who eventually changes from his evil ways and tries to expose corruption in Congress.

Most of the movie, which is a production of Hollywood Pictures, is being shot in Washington and Los Angeles, although filming will continue at the courthouse through the weekend.

However, do not rush to see the filming. The set is closed, a publicist for the movie said.

But one never knows where Mr. Murphy might show up in town.

On Thursday night, he stopped by the Sanctuary nightclub in Fells Point. General manager Debbie Nieves said Mr. Murphy came in about 11 p.m. with a couple of friends and some obvious bodyguards, socialized a bit, had a soda and then left after about an hour.

"Too bad it was a Thursday," Ms. Nieves said. "I wished he'd come back. Saturday night is the night to party in Fells Point."

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