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Wednesday
Nov092011

Eddie Murphy Resigns. Academy Voter Tells Us "Told You!"

True story: I just got back from a luncheon celebrating Martha Marcy May Marlene. I happened to be seated between three Academy members. One woman, a documentary filmmaker, brought up the Brett Ratner scandal and she and I co-miserated, jokingly, that if only he hadn't resigned so quickly there probably would have been much more drama to enjoy since he can't control his mouth. 'Who doesn't love juicy drama?' we argued. The wise producer on the left of me, retorted that the Academy doesn't. "They're very conservative and they don't like a scandal," she said emphatically. (Amusing that even Academy members talk about the Academy in monolithic "they" terms just as we do; as if they, too, are outside of it looking in).

The whole Ratner fiasco had happened so fast (gay slurs on Friday, apologies on Monday but also Howard Stern on Monday with more offensive comments, resignation on Tuesday) that we had to fill one of the other voters at our table in on the details. The discussion quickly turned to last year's telecast which was deemed "unwatchable" ("Franco is spread too thin" "Poor Anne Hathaway -- you could just see the panic.") The producer leans in to me and says "I bet Eddie Murphy resigns". 

CUT TO: 20 minutes later. I've just returned from talking to Lizzy Olsen (more on that tomorrow) and the producer says "Told you." She holds up her phone to show me the Breaking News bulletin: EDDIE MURPHY EXITS AS OSCAR HOST. The holy name of "Billy Crystal" is instantly invoked as if he would save them all. 

Murphy's public statement: 

First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job.

Interesting that he makes it sound like a mutual decision (the implication there is that Rattner was asked to resign, isn't it?).

I know I didn't write about the choice of Eddie Murphy much at the time but I actually thought it somewhat inspired as he is a born showman. No matter what you think of Dreamgirls, can't we all agree that Eddie nailed the performative electricity of James 'Thunder' Early?

Ideally in his absence I'd have Hugh Jackman back since I need musical numbers, I just do. (I realize my dream of Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson hosting and just yanking every other hilarious-in-real-life actress on stage to banter with them as if the Kodak is their mutual playground is only going to happen in my own brain.)

Statler & Waldorf are just like the media. They'll hate it whoever does the hosting!I also heartily endorse the Muppets should host the Oscars campaign though that feels only slightly more likely than Streep & Thompson on account of the Academy being too self-serious to become the greatest episode of The Muppet Show ever made for one night.

A more believeable suggestion...

Wouldn't Jim Carrey be two tons o' fun as a host: what do they have against him anyway? Who would you have host the event and are you sad to see Eddie go?

UPDATE 7:27 PM Brian Grazer (famous producer and Ron Howard partner) has stepped in to replace Brett Ratner as producer of the telecast. Since Brian has always kind of reminded us of a Muppet himself, we are quite pleased. Brian, think hard about those felt bundles of joy. CONSIDER... 

UPDATE 11/10/11: Now it's Billy Crystal as Host.

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Reader Comments (39)

That is sad news. Eddie Murphy was a fun choice. I actually would have gone with Jim Carrey back in his heyday, but I'm not sure about him now. Your actress-centric ceremony sounds like an absolute hoot! I would suggest a Jackman/Neil Patrick Harris collaboration. They were so funny together on the Tonys and NPH has proven an excellent awards show host. Or what about Tina Fey? She was good in her presenting gig a while back. Or what about the ladies of Bridesmaids? THAT would be fun! Or hell, why not have Oprah do it? She's getting the Humanitarian Award anyway. That would be a VERY different kind of ceremony, though. She's not known for her comedic skills...

But yeah, I agree with the producer in your story: I think the ideal would be to have Billy Crystal back.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

TRACEY ULLMAN FOR OSCAR HOST!!!

Seriously, they need to ask Ullman. It would be hilarious because she is always hilarious (with or without rehearsals!).

This should be one of her audition tapes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRwFyiF2JEk
And she would provide some brilliant impersonations of the nominees, I'm sure.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercinephile

I've been saying Carrey should host the telecast for YEARS. He is a huge celeb (that's why Jackman worked so well as a host...people in the room and those watching on TV respected him) and he's hysterical.

Carrey is so good at wit/banter and he's game for anything.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

MUPPETS! MUPPETS! MUPPETS! I'm totally on board for this campaign. If they need humans, maybe they could co-host with Jason Segel and Amy Adams. You got your musical numbers covered!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

John Cleese. As funny as Ricky Gervais, but with the extra bit of class to host the Oscars.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Kathy Griffin!!! hahaha yes!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Not that it would happen in a million years, but....Kristen Wiig, plz.

I guess the obvious choice is either Billy Crystal or Hugh Jackman. Neil Patrick Harris hosting would be fun and would continue his fantastic domination of hosting awards shows.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBowen

Actually, just based on her tweets alone, Ellen Barkin should obviously host this.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBowen

For me, the perfect hosts would be Steve Carell and Tina Fey, together or apart.
Failing that in my dream world, Anne Hathway would return, yes she was over excited and blah blah blah but wouldn't you be if you was hosting the Oscars and her love for Hollywood and Oscar was super!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Obviously Neil Patrick Harris. I still don't understand why he hasn't hosted yet. He was TERRIFIC at Tonys and Emmys, he ist hugely popular und likeably and would bring in younger crowd (see HIMYM oder even The Smurfs) and he would be just excellent.
And let the dream continue. NPH with Joss Whedon producing... Dr. Horrible all over again :D :D

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBasti

Idk where my other comment went to...but I'm sad the Eddie isn't doing it! What the heck.


But let's get a female host in there instead of a man. I can get on the Kristen Wiig train.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

I love Steve Martin. Witty, funny, classy - he is perfect for this job.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Wait...can we PLEASE get Ellen back?! Or Whoopi?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

What a sad and silly turn of events. I was kind of looking forward to seeing Eddie Murphy host. I'm no Brett Ratner apologist. His Howard Stern interview made my skin crawl. But at least with Eddie, we would get a real comedian that could serve as a snarky audience surrogate throughout the telecast (something I don't think the actors they get to host do well). And what makes them look so bad is that that putz Tom Sherak was sticking by his guy no matter what. Racist, homophobic, and sexist comments in a span of days, and nothing seemed to be the tipping point for that guy. It's hilarious if it wasn't so demeaning. And that canned statement reeked of PR spin. I don't believe for a second that Ratner wrote that or has any genuine apologies in him for what he's done. Can't wait to see who the Academy ends up getting for Ratner's and Murphy's sloppy seconds.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPiney

I've been saying it for a solid three years running: Robert Downey Jr. anyone?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

MUPPETS! YES! I already produced my own shown in my head with them as hosts!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCristhian

Would love to see them bring back Billy Crystal. It just feels right for them to bring back a veteran host after this controversy and the Franco/Hathaway debacle. As the wise producer said, the academy is conservative. Even with their desperation for ratings, I see them cutting their losses and not take any more risks in this regard.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

They would never allowe Jim Carrey to host. One year he presented and was "literally" talking out of his ass. The Academy was not amused. They take themselves very seriously and it's the same reason Carrey has been snubbed for nominations in the past. He's not in the cards.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Also sad to see Murphy leave, but yes, Gervais, Oscar Muppet Show, or _______. Billy Crystal and Hugh are great, and one of them may ultimately get it, but it's time to let someone else have the chance.

Plus, wildcard for sure, what about RuPaul? Seriously. I'm just saying, I need some drag queen in my life.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

I think i'd like to see a telecast in which Jennifer Beals hosts by donning black leg warmers and simply spinning around and pointing at various audience members/nominees between awards ala the audition scene in Flashdance. Maybe, in keeping with the theme, the winner of best director can be presented by Jennifer Grey and awarded to whomever can successfully pull off the Patrick Swayze moves from Dirty Dancing.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

Emma Thompson would be ideal, but we know that won't happen. Or maybe it will. Depends on the producer. Can we just have Merchant/Ivory produce the Oscars?

Amy Poehler would be a delightful host, though, especially teamed with Tina Fey. I feel like Stephen Colbert will host eventually, right?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I say:

"It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights, it's time to rise the curtain on the Muppet Oscars that night!"

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew R.

Realistically-Hugh Jackman was the best host in recent memory and it would be great to see him back. Otherwise NPH could carry it off but even though Johnny Carson did it for years and was terrific they seem to want only a movie star now.

Wish it would happen-The Divine Miss M!!!! Bette Midler is sassy, comfortable in front of a large audience, quick on her feet when it comes to moving things along and able to be risque without slipping into vulgarity.

As far as Eddie Murphy glad to see him go. His self satisfied smugness grates on me no end. You just know he is his biggest fan and that he thinks everything he says is priceless which is so off putting.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Craig Ferguson for the win.
He's consistently funny and he made the White House correspondant's dinner audience laugh when he hosted which means he can handle the easier crowd of the Oscars.
He should do it with his Robot sidekick.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

So, so sad about Eddie. I really thought it was his gateway into being taken seriously as a comedian again. No more "family" comedies. He would have proved he's still hilarious!

That being said, I'm wholeheartedly behind the Billy Crystal commentary. We had such a good Oscar year guaranteed with Eddie--I want to keep that guarantee.

Though, I could get down with NPH. <3

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

The talk is circling around Tom Hanks as a replacement host. Snooze. They might as well get Billy Crystal again. He was supposed to have a "major role" in Ratner's show with Eddie Murphy.

What is this Muppets campaign all about? Sounds really silly to me. Is this another Facebook campaign?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRene

Meryl really would be awesome. They love her, no matter what she does, and the buzz in the audience makes it or breaks it, IMO. One condition: no rehearsals, they just plop her down there, and she has to go through figuring it out before our eyes. She could sing, she could reminisce, she could get Jack on the stage and hoot 'n' holler. But she has to make it up all on the spot.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I know it's a little bit 1989, but I don't care-Whoopi, Robin, and Billy would be heaven as a dream trio.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

There are so many good options being volleyed around-- (my personal favorite) Wiig and McCarthy, The Muppets, Steve Carrell, Tiny Fey with or without Amy Poehler... I just hope they don't screw up this second chance to make an interesting choice.

Who am I kidding? Of course they will...

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I would get on board in an instant for a Muppets Oscar ceremony. That would be such an inspired choice. I wouldn't be opposed to bringing Billy Crystal back, but come on: it's the MUPPETS.

As for people who haven't been mentioned, I think Kevin Spacey would make a great host. He's a funny, charismatic guy, and the Academy clearly loves him. The only problem would be that I don't think he's a big enough "star" anymore to bring in ratings. So I return again to the Muppets.

Also, as much as I love Mr. W's suggestion of John Cleese, that would NEVER happen. I would, however, ADORE a BAFTA ceremony hosted by him, or better yet, a reunion of Monty Python members. It just wouldn't work in America, though, because how many people outside of the movie geek community and just geeks in general know Monty Python anymore?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn-Paul

"I've just returned from talking to Lizzy Olsen." Oh, is that all? You're taking me to the next party!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Meryl Streep should host it. She's smart and funny and..( add more adjectives). I also would love to see either Ellen or Jon Stewart. Nothing consoles like funny and witty banters and fun pokes to the nominees.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHallucinator

John T -- i love the idea of time travelling. I could think of several 80s and 90s pairs that are fun to imagine as hosts in their heyday

Rene -- i don't think it's a facebook campaign so much as a publicity stunt. but i love the muppets so i'm not complaining

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Does the telecast even really *need* a host? I mean, I understand the desire to retain one for the ceremony, but sometimes I feel as though they make the proceedings more tedious as opposed to moving them briskly along in an entertaining manner.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

On the Vulture article it kills me how AMPAS was so desperate that Ratner "resign" so they didn't have to "fire" him. Of course firing can make a hero out of someone ("I was wronged!") so I get the impulse, but still - they come off like jerks for not having the ovum to fire him, and they come off like jerks for wanting to get rid of him for a comment (free speech, anyone?), AND they come off like jerks for hiring someone who has a history of being patently stupid and offensive to begin with and then acting like it's a complete surprise. Really? If the Academy is so conservative to begin with, then some due diligence was lacking in HR here.

BTW - I think the monolithic use of "they" to refer to AMPAS even by AMPAS members is a bit of a mental dodge, IMHO, as in "I don't have anything to do with this group and it's stupid decisions, not my fault, I'm just an innocent bystander."

No tears from me - not that Murphy can't be funny, but I don't know - how long has it been since he entertained a live audience? (And we forgot how important that use to be, although they did try with Ellen. Lord knows they tried...and tried...and tried...)

First things first - fire Bruce Vilanovich. Ok? New writers.

I love some of the suggestions here; Amy Poehler actually came to mind immediately, especially after the little gag she thought up for the Emmys. Of course she has almost nothing to do with movies right now but she knows how to perform in front of a live audience after years onstage and with SNL, and she's as funny and loveable as hell.

Actually, Amy Poehler may be an honorary Muppet. (As is Amy Adams, of course.)

I can also see a team hosting - Hugh and NPH and Meryl and Emma (or Anne or Amy or Amy...) could be smashing. If you're going to have movie stars you really do need people who have a sense of humor about themselves.

But of course the Academy will **** it up. Please prove me wrong, Mr Glazier.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

What about a director as host? I'll toss Lynch out as one choice. Seems to have a sense of humour about what it is he does. (Remember how he campaigned for Laura Dern?)

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I have never understood the allure of Billy Crystal. I say the Oscars gets with the times. I'm not saying roll out Taylor Lautner, but let us think outside the box a little.

Stephen Colbert? Sarah Silverman? How about Louis CK?

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Billy Crystal said he's hosting on his Twitter. Might be a hoax, but Deadline is confirming the news.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLenny

Volvagia -- Lynch as host? That would be brilliant. especially if Laura Dern was trotted out to present every other award as her Lynch characters.

I would hope that David would hold up a dangly piece of processed cheese during his opening monologue.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R
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