HAMMOND: Eddie Murphy Oscar Host Choice Could Be A Win-Win For Academy AND Eddie

Eddie Murphy Agrees To Host Oscars; Producers Tell Film Academy It’s Official

When you are an Oscar producer I guess it pays to have a film coming out co-starring someone who just might be the perfect Oscar host. That’s the enviable position Brett Ratner found himself in as he landed the Oscar gig just as he was editing his new film Tower Heist, which features Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy among others and is generating good inside buzz in advance of its November release. I hear test scores for Eddie were so high they talked about enhancing his part in the film. Sight unseen, it sounds — on the surface at least — like a return to the old Eddie that made him a movie superstar. So Eddie and Brett will continue the collaboration for another few months at least, and it would seem to be a win-win all around now that Murphy has officially been named host.

For the Academy, it gives them the opportunity to return to the tradition of having a stand-up comic host the show, which has always worked best, and in Murphy they have one who is a movie star, an Oscar-nominated actor (for Dreamgirls in 2006), and a guy whose past experience on Saturday Night Live and his stage gigs gives him the chops to pull this off — and a reason for the audience to tune in.

In fact, when I was in Telluride over the weekend and Nikki first broke the news of Murphy’s possible Oscar-hosting gig, I ran into Academy COO Ric Robertson and former Academy president Sid Ganis and showed them the story. Although both had not heard the report and seemed surprised, they immediately seemed to like the idea. At least that’s the impression I got. At another party I ran into producer Michael De Luca, who told me he had been offering free advice to Ratner and said he told him the key thing was to hire a comedian as host. In Murphy they obviously have one, with the added plus that he’s fresh Oscar-host meat, lending to the curiosity factor over just how well he might do in front of that notoriously nervous and fidgety Kodak Theatre audience. It’s not an easy job, even though the best comics who have done it (Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin) make it look that way.

One of those previous hosts — Crystal, who did it eight times — seemed to be putting word out recently that he might be open to hosting again this year, but when I asked Ratner about it he said he hadn’t seen what Billy had said and that he had until mid-September to decide anyway. Obviously he went with his own guy, a sign that Ratner has definite ideas about what he wants to do and will be a strong partner for Don Mischer, who directs and co-produces as he did last year.

For Murphy, the hosting gig comes at a good time as it will be a one-two punch following Tower Heist that gives him the opportunity to remind audiences why they fell in love with him in the first place. What better way than with a potential hit movie and a hosting gig on what is traditionally the most-watched entertainment broadcast of the year?

For me, it’s a little surprising, though, since Eddie and Oscar seemed to have had a bit of a rocky relationship.

His most recent appearance, handing the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Jerry Lewis in 2009 (from one Nutty Professor to another) went off without a hitch, but in 2007, when he lost the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Dreamgirls to veteran Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), there were blog reports that he “stormed out” of the Kodak. He did leave the theater  shortly after losing, but it wasn’t in the dramatic way gossipers presented it: He just didn’t hang around for the rest of the show. No doubt he was disappointed in losing since he came in to the Oscars that night having won most of the precursor awards including SAG, Golden Globe and Critics Choice trophies.

The biggest controversy between Eddie and Oscar occurred on the 1988 telecast, when he presented Best Picture to The Last Emperor. He began by saying he had originally turned down the Academy’s offer to present Best Pic because “they haven’t recognized black people in the motion picture industry,” and then proceeded to point out that only three African-American actors had ever won an Oscar (up until then). “I’ll  probably never win an Oscar for saying this. Actually, I might not get in any trouble because the way it’s been going, it’s about every 20 years we get one, so we ain’t due until about 2004,” he said, adding more fuel to the fire. He then almost forgot to name the nominees before audience murmurs tipped him off.

That bit of audacity in presenting the Academy’s most prestigious award might have been inappropriate, but it’s indicative of the edgy kind of guy Murphy could be on live TV, and we can only hope he has retained some of that edge when he gets the chance to finally host Feb. 27.

  1. I wish Eddie Murphy would do movies for adults again like he used to and ceases doing children’s films. It would be sad and disappointing if he doesn’t.

    Everyone is ready to give up on him. He has alienated his fanbase for years and has seemingly gone out of his way to make lousy children’s movies, with only the occasional film for adults once in a while.

  2. Eddie Murphy Delirious was and still is the funniest stand up comedy show ever!! Murphy was in his young 20?s and REALLY funny. It seemed the older he got then the less funny he got. Watch his movies in order from Best Defense to his last funny movie which was Beverly Hills Cop 2. Eddie did what a comedian should never do which is grow up and become mature. Comedians are funny when immature. I think it was around the time his first kid was born when he really stopped being funny.

    It would be awesome if we for once in decades since his prime could see the old Eddie Murphy that everyone reminisces about. He’s done family films which I will never waste my time with.

    EDDIE MURPHY IS AT HIS FUNNIEST WHEN HE’S RAUNCHY AND IMMATURE. How can he do it for television that is pg-13? History lesson: He was the funniest on Saturday Night Live. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood and the condom scetch was and still is funnier than all the Saturday Night Live Alumni.

    Remember that Eddie Murphy used to be the biggest star in the mid 80?s. He was up there higher than all the other stars by a mile. Everyone talks about the young/immature and fun Eddie Murphy and yet he has not tried to lighten up to bring it all back.

    I cringed when he started to not be funny. I first noticed it in Another 48 Hours when he was “trying” to hard. Then he tried to play cool in Boomerang which bombed. OH, AND THE NUTTY PROFESSOR SUCKS. IT IS SECOND RATE EDDIE MURPHY IN A GREAT PRODUCTION. He was already way to grown up and lost his mojo by then.

    His best movie was Beverly Hills Cop. The strip club scene when he makes fun of Billy for getting turned on is priceless!! lol Today he calls the role in Beverly Hills Cop a “character” he played. When it’s quite clear that he was being his young/funny self back then. If he can only tap into his IMMATURE YOUNG EMOTIONS THAT MADE HIM THE GREATEST COMEDIAN OF ALL TIME… If we get an Oscars Eddie Murphy Delirious then it will be better than anything that Billy Crystal could do. We all want to see the immature Eddie Murphy again. It would also be funny if he showed up wearing his Raw outfit. I read that someone mentioned it and that would just be awesome.

    1. Rewatch these movies and see how unfunny and tired they have become, then watch any Richard Pryor concert film and laugh your ass of at his perception and poignancy. Eddie Murphy hosting the Academy Awards will be a disaster.

  3. What a joke!…Where’s Murphy’s credability??? His last hit movie?? years ago…plus he’s an asshole and everyone knows it! Ratner is just promoting his next movie…he’s using you academy…are you that stupid?

  4. If Tower Heist turns out to be a dog [well testing films have bombed before, and the trailer really loses its pep when Murphy appears], this could be a bad idea – unless, of course, Murphy gets some great material and is on his game [which he hasn’t been for quite a while – Dreamgirls notwithstandin].

    1. …And we all know there can be only one black comedian at a time. Give it a rest with all the Richard Pryor comparisons. If it were Will Ferrell, there wouldn’t be a million “I miss Lenny Bruce” we would get that they are too totally different comedians. Eddie Murphy does not equal Richard Pryor, but it doesn’t mean he’s less talented. Eddie’s dope. Richard Pryor is dope. And it just so happens that one of Eddie’s biggest fans was, you guessed it, Richard Pryor.

      1. who are you to say Eddie isn’t equal to Pryor? that’s so arbitrary. they aren’t equal, they’re different. Richard has had me rollin’ just as much as Eddie has. and if you really want to break it down, Eddie has way more hits than Richard did, he’s had a much more fruitful career and he’s one of the biggest box office stars… EVER. Eddie is gonna turn the Oscars out…

  5. I, for one, am not pleased with Eddie Murphy being the host of the Oscars this year. Does this mean the Oscars will be used as advertisement for their new movie? A comeback? Maybe Eddie can do Dancing With The Stars. They get lots of air time.

    1. Uh, does anyone remember Billy Crystal promoted City Slickers when hosting in ’91???

      The Oscars are ALL ABOUT PROMOTION!! Give it a rest!!!

  6. Getting Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars, 25 yrs past his prime, sounds just about right for the Oscars. How come they never go after the comedian of the moment? Chris Rock hosted 10 yrs after the time when HE was the hottest comedian on the planet, when Dave Chappelle was the King of Comedy. I’m surprised they didn’t ask Andrew Dice Clay.

      1. Ditto.

        Last year they tried to capture the youth audience with the two youngsters as co-hosts. This year they’re trying to capture all the people who haven’t been funny since the mid-1980s.

  7. Geez Relax people. Its not like Ann Hathaway and James Franco knocked one out of the park. And you guys are probably the same people that were happy to see to Grumpy Old men (Baldwin and Martin) or Hugh Jackman (Twinkle Toes) stink up the show.

    Here’s the silver lining – he might be funny! And heck, what happens if all the movies are boring (last year’s films were boring as hell), it might be good to have a funny dude have something funny to say about boring movies. And honestly, can any of you remember the last time the awards were good and/or funny? Crystal, Rock, Whoppi, etc…

    Stop being haters, haters!

  8. You all sound ridiculous. If you are a fan of movies, duh!, how can you not be excited to see Eddie Murphy back on stage?

    I don’t care who or what age you are, I guarantee this man has made you laugh a minimum of hundred times in your life, more than likely thousands.

    How long has the world been asking Eddie to switch it up and do something different, go back to the “old” Eddie, get back on stage, tell dirty jokes, do something controversial other than fat & fart jokes?

    He’s FINALLY ready and all I read is backlash. I for one can’t wait, am certain he will kill it and dummy’s….Tower Heist comes out way before the Oscars.


  9. I’m not sure if finding a perfect host is the key to boosting ratings. When I first started watching the Oscars it was because movies that I cared about (Lord of the Rings) were being taken seriously as a contender for the big awards. It had nothing to do with who was hosting. After that I started watching out of habit, but I think larger audiences are more likely to be interested in the Oscars if movies that they are interested in and care about have big nominations.

    I’m not saying films like The King’s Speech don’t deserve best director/picture awards, but many people don’t go to see those movies and therefore don’t care enough about the race between The King’s Speech and The Social Network to actually watch a 2 1/2 hour ceremony. Just something to think about…

    1. Yeah…in 1998, you could have had comedian Steven Wright hosting. Wouldn’t have mattered, Titanic was the big draw.

      Hell, does anyone here even remember who hosted in ’98, without looking it up???

  10. Not sure what to think of this. Murphy risks officially crossing over into the “old comic” zone with this gig. Billy crystal, Whoopi Golberg, Steve Martin, the late Hope and Carson, all are of older generations, and this could put him in the same category unless his sense of humor is still as sharp as it was in the 80’s.

  11. Remember, Eddie… “You cannot show it to the Laker Girls. I know you want to show it to the Laker Girls but you can never show it to the Laker Girls. Keep Mr Weenie in the pants. Always in the pants.”

  12. Yeah and remember how everyone were exited last year when they announced than Anne Hathaway and James Franco will be hosting and how they will add fresh young fuel to Oscars. And how it turned out?

    Nothing will save Oscars from boringness. They just should give up like they did at MTV VMA this year and go with no host at all. VMA were much more interesting when we didn’t have to sit and listen to some boring comedian who thinks that he gives funny speech when in reality he is not. Ricky Jervais destroyed any Oscars credibility when he mocked Oscar hosts in that fake speech he wrote for Hathaway and Franco.

  13. people in the film industry already watch the oscars, so we’re not their target audience. eddie murphy is a good choice for getting a wider audience. critics might have hated norbit and the like, but the guy gets a ton of fan support *most* of the time, despite the quality of the films. and many youngish people grew up loving dr. doolittle, shrek and the klumps. isn’t that what the oscars need? people to watch, even though it’s crappy television?

    moreover, older people might also watch for nostalgic reasons (48 hours, delirious SNL… )

    seems like a good pick to me, and i bet he’ll rise to the occasion.

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