EXCLUSIVE: This Tuesday, a confab is scheduled for Oscar producer Brett Ratner to tell the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences whom he wants to host the Oscars. I’ve learned that Ratner will offer one name to Academy President Tom Sherak: Eddie Murphy. This is by no means a done deal yet, but this is a first step — though a lot more steps have to happen before this becomes a reality. I’m told that a lot of big names have approached the other 84th Academy Awards producer Don Mischer saying they are interested in hosting, and Don is fielding those calls. But insiders tell me that Ratner since getting the Academy Awards producing gig has only been talking to one person: Eddie. It’s been along the lines of, “If the Academy asked you to host, would you accept?” I learned that Eddie is “showing interest”. I do know that Murphy’s Hollywood agency WME thinks it’d be a real coup for Murphy’s dormant career which is about to get a kick-start. That’s because the veteran comedian is starring in the Brett Ratner-directed and Imagine/Universal-produced Tower Heist action laugher with Ben Stiller that opens on November 4th and is receiving great buzz. So Murphy and Ratner already have a close relationship, and this would be a way for Brett to put his personal stamp on 2012’s broadcast. Plus Murphy is starring in the DreamWorks dramedy film A Thousand Words scheduled for release on January 12th.
Eddie, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2006’s Dreamgirls but lost, is said to worship the Oscars. “Nobody knows movies better or is a bigger cinephile than Eddie. Not Brett. Not even Quentin Tarantino. Eddie can quote scenes from every single movie word for word,” an insider tells me. “He can bring all that experience to hosting. Plus he has Saturday Night Live experience before a live crowd. And worldwide the biggest crossover comedians are Will Smith and Eddie Murphy.” That’s important because a huge part of the Academy Awards telecast audience is global. And with two movies opening before the Oscars, Murphy could benefit from the publicity bonanza especially overseas where international releases usually follow U.S. openings by several months. Besides, the Academy has been after more diversity which is why this October it’s honoring James Earl Jones and Oprah Winfrey (even though she’s much more of a TV personality than a movie star or filmmaker).
Today the comedy and urban entertainment website Humor Mill posted first an exclusive (sourced from several close friends of Eddie’s) that it’s a done deal. But I’ve confirmed it’s not — yet. Meanwhile, I hear that Billy Crystal, who recently expressed interest in hosting again, will almost certainly be incorporated into the show in some marquee way.