Eddie Murphy Quits as Oscar Host

Here’s what will hopefully be the last strain of the Oscar fallout from Brett Ratner‘s comments over the past week: Eddie Murphy has quit as host of the 84th Academy Awards. Brett Ratner called Murphy his first and only choice to host, and there was something appealing about the idea of blatant showman Ratner working with Murphy for the Oscars. I think some of us had images of Murphy emerging from a comedy cocoon that enshrouded him around the time of Beverly Hills Cop II. When Ratner quit as Oscar producer yesterday evening, we didn’t know if Murphy would go with him.

Evidently Murphy didn’t want to do the show without Ratner, so he’s out. A statement from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak is below. Read More »

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Brett Ratner Steps Down as Producer of Oscar Telecast

When we ran a review of Brett Ratner‘s Tower Heist at the end of last week, a section of the comments that followed were dominated by discussion of Ratner’s perceived character, and the fact that many /Film staffers aren’t exactly fond of the guy. Some readers even expressed sympathy for the fact that Ratner gets so little love. This sort of conversation seems to crop up every time Ratner is in the news, whether he is making headlines for a film project, or for something more personal.

Lately the headlines have been very personal, and they point to stories that illustrate with pristine clarity why Ratner gets little love. Over the past week Ratner’s public comments have included some pathetic douchebag bravado — which Ratner later recanted and even admitted was false — as well as a statement that could be his epitaph: “rehearsing is for fags.”

That statement called into question Ratner’s suitability as producer of the Oscars, as that job makes him a de facto ambassador from Hollywood to the rest of the world. Some called for Ratner to be replaced as Oscar telecast producer, despite his apology for the rehearsal comment.. (Andrew O’Heir published an impassioned piece at Salon just hours ago calling for Ratner’s dismissal.)

Now Ratner is stepping down as Oscar producer — or being allowed to say that he is stepping down. Whether Eddie Murphy, his high profile choice to host, will remain on board, is not yet clear. Read More »

With very few exceptions (like Dreamgirls), the career of Eddie Murphy has been dominated in the last fifteen years by broad family comedies and sequels to same. Murphy is still making broad comedies, such as Tower Heist, but one thing he evidently won’t be doing is a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film. Instead, he wants to make a Beverly Hills Cop spin-off TV show. Read More »

The first trailer released for Brett Ratner‘s new film Tower Heist was very obviously a trailer for a Ratner film, complete with pumping music, flying shots of the tower in which the action takes place, and a jokey introduction to the story and cast. (Which features Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Michael Peña, and Alan Alda.)

This second trailer is much more focused on the crazy stuff the cast gets up to as they try to rob a Wall St. power broker who has defrauded the staff of his high-rise building. Check out the wacky action — which is also very recognizably Ratner — after the break. Read More »

This spring we heard that the long-shelved Eddie Murphy dramedy A Thousand Words would finally see release in January 2012. Shot in 2008 under the direction of Brian Robbins (Norbit, Meet Dave), the film has Eddie Murphy playing a guy with only 1000 words left to speak before he dies.

When the release window was announced in April I asked, “will that stick?” Turns out it won’t, but there’s a pretty good reason. Eddie Murphy will now host the Oscars in February, and Paramount has realized that could be a better free publicity bump than A Thousand Words could ever hope for. So the studio has moved the film to March 2012. Read More »

Eddie Murphy Agrees to Host 84th Academy Awards

Briefly: The big Oscar news over the weekend was that telecast producer Brett Ratner wants his Tower Heist co-star Eddie Murphy to host the 84th Academy Awards ceremony when it takes place on Sunday February 26, 2012. There may be some small deal points to work out, but this is now looking like a done deal, as Murphy has agreed to host.

It could be a good deal, at that. I’ve been hoping that the dormant Eddie Murphy of old — the funny one — might be revived. While the trailer for Tower Heist didn’t convince me that we’re in for a prime Murphy performance, that film seems like a watchable one compared to his other live-action comedies of the past decade. (That’s not saying much, I realize, when considering the watchability of Norbit or Meet Dave.) Murphy is a natural on the stage, and anything that pushes him toward his stand-up roots is a positive force as far as I’m concerned.

Deadline also says that Billy Crystal, one of the most popular hosts of past Oscar ceremonies, “will almost certainly be incorporated into the show in some marquee way.”

I’ll admit to feeling some degree of surprise when I first heard that director Brett Ratner would be co-producing the upcoming 84th Academy Awards, but at the same time, Ratner’s career has always been one of surprising success. For instance, using only a modicum of skill, Ratner was able to turn out three Rush Hour films, which went on to gross almost $1 billion worldwide. And the huge returns of Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand only ensured that this guy would not be going away anytime soon.

So maybe Ratner’s Oscar gig will be similarly successful to mass-market audiences. Turns out the director has an ace up his sleeve for the upcoming ceremony: he wants Tower Heist star Eddie Murphy to host it. Read More »

Eddie Murphy to Voice ‘Hong Kong Phooey’

In the ’70s, the animated fighting kung-fu dog Hong Kong Phooey was a minor television favorite, in part thanks to the work Scatman Crothers did voicing the character. Now the mutt is set for a hybrid live-action/animated big-screen revival, in which the late Scatman will be replaced by Eddie Murphy. Read More »

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