“There is a lack of desire for true creativity now” – Cop and a Half star Norman Golden II (The VH Interview)

In the spring of 1993 the world fell in love with Norman Golden II as he starred alongside the legendary Burt Reynolds in a “buddy cop” movie entitled Cop and a Half; the tale of a young boy who witnesses a murder and parlays the promise of a testimony in exchange for spending time as a police officer.

At the time, Golden was a young child who displayed a natural charisma and the acting chops to hang alongside a Hollywood veteran like Reynolds, taking his instant stardom in stride. During that period of Golden’s life, even in his single digit years, he was well known for his friendly nature, big heart and of course, his charity work. He visited children’s hospitals, did public service announcements, and even made it to the couch of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno thanks to his personality.

The “buddy cop” family classic is one to remember and is highly revered by many adults who grew up in the nineties alongside a plethora of other children’s classics we still enjoy watching as adults. With this thought in mind, movie production companies are scrambling to pick up any piece of property affiliated with bits of nostalgia; turning them into updated, straight to TV/DVD sequels hoping they will amuse audiences both new and old.

Earlier this year it was announced that Universal is set to release a straight to TV sequel to Cop and a Half; this time starring Lou Diamond Phillips and features a young female lead in the “Devon Butler” role.  I recently caught up with Norman Golden II to get his thoughts and insights on the matter.

How did you find out about the Cop and a Half sequel and what was your initial reaction?

I actually found out via Facebook. A friendly fan tagged me on a poster for the sequel and asked if I knew about it or if I was involved. My reaction was a bit indifferent meaning it didn’t really make a difference to me and I wasn’t surprised. There has been a number of early 90’s films horribly remade so “Cop and a Half” has fallen victim to that (Laughs). Keeping it real!

Awhile back we spoke about a script  you had written for a Cop and a Half sequel called “The Half is Back” can you elaborate on that whole situation and what happened with it?  I know there is a great story involving Nick Cannon.

Yeah, in 2000, I wrote a sequel to Cop and a Half entitled: “The Half is Back”.

When I completed the script, my mom sent a copy to some individuals over at Universal who said they were excited to take a look at it. Two weeks later, we get a “cease and desist” letter. The script had been requested so it wasn’t unsolicited and the person requesting the material said not to worry about copyrights, as they were interested in the read so we found it ironic we’d get the “cease and desist” with no follow up from those that requested the script. On another note, there was a film that was made not too long after that ordeal entitled “Underclassmen” that featured a similar premise of “The Half is Back” though it performed horribly at the box office…my screenplay was better though…just sayin’.

What was the plot for your version of a second “Cop and a Half” movie?

Basically, it took place 8 years after the original. Devon Butler was in high school and participating in a Junior Police Program (similar to Junior ROTC). When he suspects that the principal of his school is up to some shenanigans, he decides to investigate. He finds his suspicions are valid as he learns his best friend was involved after he witnesses his murder at the hands of the principle’s henchmen. Devon’s JPP training kicks in, as he must expose the principle and save his own ass too.

How do you feel about straight to DVD sequels of 90’s classics? We have seen it a lot lately with movies like Kindergarten Cop 2 and a Jingle All The Way sequel starring “Larry the Cable Guy”. I would just like to get your thoughts on this.

I feel like there is a lack of desire for true creativity now, which the entire entertainment industry has been suffering from for a while. As a result, you get shitty movies and true talent can never really shine because the powers-that-be would rather release feces then take a chance and give someone an opportunity to create some great works of art. Great artistic expression in the business of show is often stifled by “deal making” and owed favors.

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Would you have participated in this project if they had contacted you?

Provided that my part was significant to the sequel (in that it made sense), and the story was interesting to me, sure.

 Personally I would have preferred a movie where you are now an adult police officer and the “Half” was a new child…what child star could pull off being the new “Devon Butler?”

Interesting you would say that because that is what all “Cop and a Half” fans say. It would make sense…well…to most (Laughs).

As far as a current child actor that could pull off the new Devon Butler…hmmm well there could only be one me (Laughs) but for the sake of this interview I honestly couldn’t think of anyone but Benjamin Flores Jr. the kid from the Nickelodeon show “Game Shakers”. I’ve seen his work and he’s pretty solid.

Do you have any projects in the works? What has Norman Golden II been working on?

I am in postproduction on a short film that I’ve produced and starred in entitled “Misperception”. The film is about a teen that has gotten into trouble and instead of jail time he is sentenced to a police aid ride along program. It is during the program he sees firsthand the complexities of law enforcement as well as the community. The objective of the film is to illuminate another side of the police brutality conversation as well as race relations in this country. I’ve completed a one-hour pilot script for this project as well so the goal is that it’ll get to a TV or Computer near you.

I’m also writing a memoir about my experiences as a former child actor. I’ve also written a short “ebook” to inspire artists to stay true to their creativity in the midst of the rat race, an inspirational “how-to” so to speak. The “ebook” should be released last quarter of 2017.

I’m also working with the non-profit “Pencils of Promise” to build a school in Ghana, West Africa. Arts and education are very important to me so I spend a lot of time trying to create better spaces for both!

I speak professionally about my experiences as a former child actor as well as the importance of being media literate. I also instruct filmmaking programs at high school level and I’m developing a media literacy program in conjunction with the film programs I teach.  So…I stay busy!

Close this interview with your favorite “Cop and a Half” line.

“Dang Marie, I could’ve wasted you!”

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures and Norman Golden II