After leaking over the Labor Day weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formally announced Eddie Murphy has signed on as Oscar host for the 84th Academy Awards.
In a statement from the Academy, this year’s co-producer Brett Ratner remarked, “Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever. With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February.”
Added the show’s other co-producer DonMischer, “Eddie is a truly ground-breaking performer, whose amazingly diverse array of roles has won him a devoted audience of all ages. His quick wit and charisma will serve him very well as Oscar host.”
“I am enormously honored to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts from Hope and Carson to Crystal, Martin and Goldberg, among others,” said Murphy. “I’m looking forward to working with Brett and Don on creating a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre as we all come together to celebrate and recognize the great film contributions and collaborations from the past year.”
Murphy will appear in Ratner’s action comedy “Tower Heist” in November.
The notoriously press shy Murphy hosted the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, but has never appeared to have any interest in the Oscar gig. In fact, Murphy’s decision to leave the 79th Academy Awards after he was a surprising loser in the best supporting actor race during the first third of the show soured much of the goodwill he’d generated in his “Dreamgirls” turn. Murphy has not had much luck since with the bombs “Meet Dave” and “Imagine That.” The incredibly long delayed “A Thousand Words” is finally being released on Jan. 12. “Heist,” which also features Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick and Casey Affleck is seen as another potential comeback for the former box office champ.
After throwing it out in public and some interest on Ratner’s part, many thought audience favorite Billy Crystal would return to host one more time. It’s been reported that Crystal would be offered a “marquee” moment during the broadcast, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
While no one doubts that Murphy has the comedic chops to be an intriguing host and he’s have many rooting for him to succeed, he’s hardly known for being self-deprecating, topical or even chummy with his acting peers (usually a requirement or two or the job). If Murphy succeeds (no pressure Eddie), it could amount to one of the biggest comebacks in Hollywood history.
The 84th Academy Awards take place Sunday, Feb. 26 on ABC.
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For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.