HAMMOND: Eddie's Exit Throws Oscars Into Further Chaos; So Who Should Host Now?

OSCARS: Eddie Murphy Pulls Out As Host
HAMMOND: Oscars Post-Ratner – What Now?

SHOCKER! Brett Ratner Out As Oscar Producer

I received an email this morning from a longtime Academy member who wrote, “Brett’s a brat … but really!!! Next one to go would be Eddie… No loss.” Well, Academy member, you got your wish. In this swiftly moving story, host Eddie Murphy has followed Brett Ratner out the door of this year’s Oscars. I wrote last night that I would be surprised if he did this, thinking his professionalism would trump any perceived loyalty to Ratner, who directed him in Tower Heist and tapped him for his first hosting gig for the Academy Awards. Apparently not. We can now add this to the ever-growing list of unfortunate incidents in Murphy’s checkered history with Oscar. He made waves when he presented Best Picture in 1988 saying he almost turned down the invititation to do it and then chastized the Academy for their poor track record in nominating African Americans. In 2007, he bolted from the Kodak Theatre after losing Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls to Alan Arkin, giving the impression whether true or not that he was a sore loser. And now he’s left again before even setting foot onstage, this time leaving the Academy in the lurch. One person with intimate knowledge of how production schedules and Oscar shows work tells me this morning, “It’s a sh*t show right now. They are incredibly behind.” To use the word “scrambling” might be an understatement. Suggestions to the Academy for a host to get out of this mess, anyone? I am sure they are listening right now.

Eddie made a round of talk-show appearances in the last two weeks telling every host how he was genuinely looking forward to doing the show — but apparently not without Ratner at the helm. I’m not sure he was fully aware of what he was expected to do, but he told reporters recently he “was not nervous,” On one talker, he was asked about doing an Oscar monologue but downplayed it, indicating he would do his own style of comedy, and maybe a couple of sketch-type things. I have the feeling Ratner was really hand-holding Eddie through this, and with Brett gone, Eddie’s confidence level also took a powder.

It appears that the reality of being adrift in the gig just wasn’t a career move Murphy wanted to make right now, particularly with his film Tower Heist — which was supposed to represent a comeback of the “old Eddie” audiences once loved — underperforming at the box office against expectations and embarrassingly trounced by the second weekend of Puss In Boots. It’s a fact that the combination of a hit movie with Eddie back in form and the Oscar-hosting gig would have put his career back on course to the top. Now you can throw that “win-win” scenario out the window. It’s probably an understatement to say events this week have not resulted in the kind of success which Murphy and his reps were hoping for.

As a result of first Ratner’s and now Murphy’s exits, this is turning into complete chaos for the normally cool-as-a-cucumber Academy. It’s like the whole show is publicly imploding. It’s not the kind of attention the Academy wants, clearly evident by the terse nature of Academy president Tom Sherak’s official statement this morning: “I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well.” Right. The Academy, its board, new CEO Dawn Hudson, and Sherak just two weeks before Thanksgiving are virtually back to square one. As I pointed out in my previous piece, the sudden death last week of 14-time show producer Gil Cates is really being felt now. He’s the one person who could have come in, immediately righted the ship, called Billy Crystal (Cates gave Crystal his first hosting shot on the 1990 Oscars) and made this whole ugly incident disappear from the headlines quickly. Gil had the relationships and diplomacy to do that. But who will want to come in to host as a perceived second choice to Eddie Murphy? The Academy really needs to act very fast in getting a new producer to join Don Mischer because the producers choose a host. [UPDATE: See OSCARS: Brian Grazer Will Step Into Breach And Produce 84th Academy Awards.]

    1. Malcolm X said, “If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything” and his exit is about more than Ratner leaving.

      Mr. Eddie Murphy is taking a moral professional stand here. I can not believe what I am reading that Murphys leaving the Oscars is, “NO LOSS.” Wth? NO LOSS? Mr. Eddie Murphy? Well, I applaud Eddie Murphy for leaving b/c obviously he did it for a reason – this PC b.s. is getting out of hand. If the Oscars wanted Eddie Murphy to host this year and they should be honored that he accepted, they then should not have proceeded to tell him what he can and can’t say while he is doing his job.

      I’ll tell you who else would’ve done the same exact thing, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Robin Williams. I can’t believe what I have read in the article here and the Oscars disrespect for one of our greatest comedians.

      The show has imploded and they deserve it.

  1. Nice, smart column Pete. You asked for suggestions and the more I think about it the more I think that the academy’s perfect solution, from a capable talent/ PR perspective is this: Ellen Degeneres.

    Ellen is funny, quick-witted, personable, likable & wildly popular, judging by the success of her daytime talk show. Plus, hiring Ellen — who is openly gay — would do wonders for the Academy in extending an olive branch to a gay and lesbian community rightly offended by Ratner’s idiocy and immaturity.

    Beyond Ellen as a sole choice, I think that the Academy should consider a co-host pairing because there are not a lot of folks — outside of maybe a Billy Crystal — who could carry this show alone, especially in light of the added scrutiny it will now get as a result of the slur heard round the world…

    My thoughts for pairings as possible co-hosts:

    Justin Timberlake and Tina Fey?

    Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey?

    Billy Crystal and Aisha Tyler?

    Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey?

    Alec Baldwin and Julia Roberts?

    Betty White and George Clooney?

    Billy Crystal and Justin Timberlake?

    Jerry Seinfeld and Tina Fey?

    Ricky Gervais and Justin Timberlake?

    George Clooney and Ricky Gervais?

    Jimmy Fallon and Betty White?

    1. bobby, stop spamming the message boards. And instead of writing down every possible combination of hosts, why not just list their names? We get the idea.

  2. I can’t throw a rock at a tv without hitting an award show. And out of that huge pool of hosts there’s no one who can step up?

    1. NO BILLY CRYSTAL!!! Seriously people get over it. Why not just dig up Bob Hope while youre at it? Billy has been neither funny nor relevant for like 15 years now. And only the geriatric people who hate modern films anyway want to see him host again.
      I enjoyed Billy’s hosting gigs in the 90’s, but his time has passed. Let’s not beat a dead horse.

  3. There’s always …. Oprah, and last i heard the reigning queen of daytime TV has time on her hands. Plus, she has instant credibility and is beyond reproach. Also, Ellen Degeneres isn’t a bad choice either. George Clooney, too.

  4. If you want to open up the show’s viewing count and were going with Eddie Murphy? I don’t think it’s a bad idea to think about Adam Sandler.

    (Done laughing?)

    I’m serious.

    The guy’s got proven dramatic chops and is loved the world over by “blue-collar” types. And God knows the guy’s good on stage.

    Let it brew.

    I think it’d be a great addition.

  5. Ironically, a producer/host tandem is what’s needed now, even if it was a mistake before.

    Let Susan Downey produce, and Robert Downey Jr. host. He’s a genuine movie star, and funny to boot. He’ll be coming off a major hit in “Sherlock,” with “Avengers” ahead. It’s a slam dunk.

  6. Billy Crystal would have to be the safest option, and he’s well liked within and without the industry.

    I have to commend Eddie Murphy for sticking to his guns by doing his own thing. He earlier said in an interview that he ‘Does what he wants, when he wants.’ And he has stuck to his word.

    Good call, Eddie, for showing some balls in a town where you’re no longer allowed to have any. Everyone has gotten so NICE that it’s just plain boring.

    1. I have a feeling Eddie dropped out because he didn’t want to do it in the first place, not because he was making any sort of statement.

    2. Tally ho.

      The article is slanted. “1988 saying he almost turned down the invititation to do it and then chastized the Academy for their poor track record in nominating African Americans. In 2007, he bolted from the Kodak Theatreafter losing Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls to Alan Arkin, giving the impression whether true or not that he was a sore loser.”

      1. I can count on one hand the number of black actors who were nominated and won a piece of plated gold.

      2. Tag team watch the movie ” What Just Happened”
      If one member of the team goes, as so often happens in La La land the other quickly follows or is fired.

      3. They didn’t like Whoopi, they didn’t like Rock, so he knew what was coming.

      4. If they want a black host( toasted) no pun intended.
      Maybe they should have Denzel and Halle. :)

      Oops rewind that flush that thought down the toilet. They should go for the biggest demographic Hispanics. Pick George Lopez ( he he he he ) :)

  7. Didn’t Paramount also make the decision to release the “Thousand Words” movie Eddie did a few years ago trying to ride the momentum leading up to the Oscars? If so, so much for that. Might as well go straight to DVD and sink the cost because theatrical might make it worse.

  8. I’m with those that want Billy Crystal back. As soon as I read this morning that Eddie Murphy dropped out, not only was I glad but I thought of Crystal. Hopefully they’ll call him up for the job.

  9. If it does indeed turn out to be Grazer as overseer, then why not just jump on the Tower Heist cast again and give Ben Stiller a crack at hosting. His skit work is usually solid and would seem to be a safe, if not entirely exciting, choice.

    1. Ben Stiller looked like he was phoning it in when he hosted SNL a few weeks ago…

      that said, it seems like he’s the only one willing to go all-out for a laugh every year during the Oscars. Some of the few Oscar moments I remember from recent years are Stiller coming out dressed in a green screen suit one year and dressed as an Avatar character another year.

  10. Why not recreate one of the earliest Oscar telecasts? When it was simple and all about the awards, not singing/dancing/joke telling? And shorten it, so you don’t need those 3 things to fill time.

  11. They should get Judd Apatow to produce with a handful of his regular cast members to co-host. His brand of humor and wit works for todays audience. Eddie Murphy has seen his day and Ratner really has nothing to offer as a director let alone producing an Awards show.

  12. It’s the Oscars not life and death. Unfortunately, Gil isn’t around to right the ship.
    This will solve the problem. Hollywood needs to make some films people want to see instead of all these retreads, meaning retread hosts, too.
    Hire Gervais and his crew give em’ free reign and let em’ have some wicked fun and LaLa Land needs to stop taking itself so seriously.
    Have some fun, take a chance, and stop the PC police.

  13. They actually can turn this to their advantage with an opening sketch of hunting for an Oscar host at the last minute, and constantly passing up Billy Crystal who is doing nothing, and finally just pulling him out of the audience.

    1. You don’t need new or fresh to lure an audience in; you need talent and name recognitiion. I don’t care how old they are: if it was announced the Monty Python crew was hosting, you would see the younger audience tune in. And the older audience, and everyone in-inbetween. Let the five of them walk on stage, rolling a casket so Graham Chapman can still be there, and you’d see the best Oscar show ever.

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