Well. This is a mess.
I honestly hadn’t expected Eddie Murphy to take his leave as Oscarcast host following the Brett Ratner dust-up, mainly because I imagined the Academy would have made sure he was still on board so as not to have two big stories to deal with. But it seems Murphy has indeed followed Ratner out the door after Ratner’s controversial media appearances put him in a position with the Academy that left no choice but resignation.
“First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony,” Murphy said via AMPAS press release. “I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job.”
I’m really bummed out about this. I was looking forward to Murphy’s stab at things and had my fingers crossed for a return to the stage for him. His roots are in stand-up and this could have been a nice circling back to those beginnings.
Alas, he’s out. And maybe it’s for the better, really. The traces of Ratner’s controversy would have been left all over this show with Murphy still on board. Unfortunate but true. “I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well,” Academy president Tom Sherak said in the release.
The question now is, what next? We’re back to square one and the Academy has a shortened window. Mark Harris (who really got the train rolling on the “Fire Ratner” talk) has a few suggestions. But I think his final remarks, which square with things I’ve been saying for a while now, are key:
“Stop worrying so much about protecting and defending; you”re not under attack. You did the right thing (and so did Ratner). Now shake it off and try not to make the same mistake twice. Don”t go looking for someone with the common touch who”ll save what you”ve decided is your flailing enterprise. Stop trying to get yahoos to love your show. Instead, stand up straight, square your shoulders, own your values, and hire a producer who will live up to them.”
Since we all know the Academy will be on the hunt for replacements, here’s your chance to offer up your thoughts. Who would make a good host? As always, I humbly suggest Kevin Spacey. But there are other possibilities. Someone on Twitter mentioned Albert Brooks. That would be brilliant. And there’s always the possibility of a @MuppetOscars. I’d probably get behind that more than anything.
Meanwhile, I really hope this nasty mess fades away as quickly as possible. And if these steps were going to be taken, I’m glad they happened almost immediately rather than being dragged out over a few news cycles.
For year round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.