"Beverly Hills Cop," as everyone knows, began as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone and was inherited and substantially changed by Eddie Murphy after Stallone exited the project because of those stubborn "creative differences." Now it looks as if lightning might get the chance to strike twice. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount Pictures is planning to produce "The Golden Child," starring Murphy, for release next summer -- once again, it's a film originally planned for a far different actor.

This time Mel Gibson was reportedly the first choice for the lead role of a Los Angeles detective hired to find a special child taken from India to L.A. by terrorists. Producer Edward S. Feldman was apparently close to making a deal with Gibson when Eddie Murphy Productions said it was interested. That put a quick stop to negotiations with Gibson, since Paramount is paying Murphy lots of money to make movies for it, and what Eddie wants, Eddie gets. The studio's big problem so far, in fact, has been getting him to decide what he does want. He's taking his time choosing projects, and a Murphy concert film scheduled for this summer was tabled not long ago . . .

If Murphy goes ahead with "The Golden Child," Paramount will probably breathe a sigh of relief and put 1985 behind. For now, there's a good chance this will be the studio's first hitless summer in years. "Explorers," its latest entry, opened to disappointing business last week. A few critics have complained that the grade school bullies in the film don't get the comeuppance they ought to from the nerds-turned-astronauts, but folks who had an early peek at the script say it wasn't always thus. In the original script, it seems, the outer space amulet Ethan Hawke brings home from his travels makes the bad guys' clothes fall off at school. Guess they really wanted that PG rating . . .

Paramount has one more shot at a summer hit -- John Candy's "Summer Rental." Candy, meanwhile, is ready to join Steve Martin in "Three Amigos," a comedy written by Martin and singer/songwriter Randy Newman, who's penned scores for the likes of "Ragtime" and "The Natural" but has never tried his hand at a screenplay. "It's a period picture about a Mexican town that gets into trouble and calls Steve and John for help," says Newman of the Orion Pictures project. And how about Newman's lack of screenwriting experience? "It shows," he deadpans, and then giggles. "Nah, it's going all right . . . "

When producer Billy Thornberg and director Anthony Spinelli were shooting "It's Called Murder, Baby," they had high hopes that the low-budget, independently made 1940s detective film would find an audience. It didn't, disappearing quickly when put into general release. But Thornberg and Spinelli are veterans who know how to cover their bets. The film, under the new title "Dixie Ray" and complete with hard-core sex footage that its makers shot just in case, last week won seven awards -- including Best Picture -- at the ninth annual Erotic Awards given by the Adult Film Association of America . . .

Actors traditionally get a big raise the second time around when their films are successful enough to warrant a sequel, and the African bushman who starred in Jamie Uys' left field success "The Gods Must Be Crazy" is no exception. N!Xau received $300 and a dozen cows for his performance in the first film, but, Uys told the L.A. Times, the money was blown away and lions ate eight of the cows. This time his salary is going into a trust account.

While "The Gods Must Be Crazy" dealt with the bushman's attempts to return a Coke bottle thrown out of a passing airplane (and therefore, he believes, from the gods), the sequel will not follow the path a few Hollywood wise guys have been suggesting lately -- it won't find N!Xau discovering a bottle of New Coke and deciding he preferred the original. Instead, he'll meet up with a stranded Beverly Hills society girl . . .

McDonalds isn't thrilled about the idea of a film comedy taking on fast-food restaurants. The burger mavens have reportedly contacted the producers of "Hamburger . . . the Motion Picture" and told them to avoid the use of golden arches or anything else that might point to the Big Mac folks.