Eddie Murphy may play former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry

Eddie Murphy

WASHINGTON -- Eddie Murphy might soon star in a more serious role, playing former Washington Mayor Marion Barry in a new HBO film project.

Washington journalists Tom Sherwood and Harry Jaffe have optioned the rights for their 1994 book "Dream City: Race, Power and the Decline of Washington, D.C." Sherwood said Friday that they have a separate contract with HBO to consult on a project if their book is adapted.

An HBO spokeswoman said Friday that the network is working with Spike Lee and Murphy on the project, though she said it's in the early stages of development. Lee would direct the project, and Murphy would play Barry. Lee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.