UPDATE: The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just made it official.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Eddie Murphy has officially agreed to host the 84th Academy Awards. Today, Oscar producer Brett Ratner is formally telling the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences that he’s chosen Murphy to emcee the Oscars and an announcement will be made. I broke the news over Labor Day weekend that Ratner was in talks with Murphy and was going to offer AMPAS President Tom Sherak only the comedian’s name to host. I was told that a lot of big names had approached the other 84th Academy Awards producer Don Mischer saying they are interested in hosting, and Don was fielding those calls. Brett’s talks with Murphy had been along the lines of, “If the Academy asked you to host, would you accept?” I learned that Eddie has now formally said yes. This is coming months earlier than normal because usually the Oscars host isn’t chosen or announced until January. But everyone is eager to get out the news now. 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).
The comedy and urban entertainment website Humor Mill posted first an exclusive (sourced from several close friends of Eddie’s) that Murphy was a done deal. But I’ve confirmed it wasn’t until today. A decision like this to host the Academy Awards is made by committee with a star and his/her reps and pals weighing all the pro and con options. Which is why the Academy has such a tough time finding new hosts every year because it can be such a career-altering decision. Meanwhile, I hear that veteran Billy Crystal, who recently expressed interest in hosting again, will almost certainly be incorporated into the show in some marquee way.
This is now the 4th straight year that Deadline has first reported the host of the Academy Awards (more…)