The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were applauded last year for at least attempting to take a risk by selecting actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts of the 83rd Oscars. However, many of us reached the same conclusion after the telecast: Never, ever hire them (particularly Franco) again. Ever.
As we inch closer to the 84th Academy Awards, word leaked that the show’s producer — director Brett Ratner — already had a new host in mind: Longtime friend and star of his latest movie, Tower Heist, Eddie Murphy. The first site to report this was news was the black comedy themed website, Humor Mill. They quoted sources claiming that it was all but confirmed that the legendary comic would be tap to host on the show set to air February 26, 2012.
As of today, The Hollywood Reporter and numerous other media outlets are revealing that the 50-year-old star officially has the gig.
WATCH ‘TODAY SHOW’ COVERAGE OF THE NEWS REGARDING MURPHY:
Of course, there are detractors who would site several reasons why Murphy isn’t a great choice for host. For starters, despite Eddie’s comedic films being beloved by millions, he hasn’t exercised his chops on stage in over 20 years. Secondly, a number of the actor’s films in recent years haven’t been on the same level as his previous work both critically and commercially. And there also seems to be persistent the notion that veteran actor and comedian is somewhat of a loose cannon given his mixed history with the Oscars.
That perception stems in part from Eddie’s actions at the 1988 Academy Awards. At that show, Eddie was a presenter for best picture and went on an unexpected rant about the Hollywood establishment. Murphy angrily chastised the show because “they haven’t recognized black people in motion pictures,” noting only three blacks had won Oscars in over sixty years. Eddie quipped that at this rate “we ain’t due until 2004.”
Still, some have not forgiven the actor-comedian for that or his abruptly leaving the 2007 show and ditching every post-Oscar party after losing out to Alan Arkin for best supporting actor. Team Murphy contends that Eddie — who was a favorite to win the award for his portrayal of James Brown-lite in Dreamgirls — was planning to bow out early regardless of his win or loss as he did at the Golden Globes that same year.Those who take issue with Eddie over these incidents should be encouraged to move past them.
The Academy Awards lacks variety in a myriad of ways and Murphy shouldn’t be faulted for having the nerve to state as much to their faces. I personally wouldn’t be mad if he said so again. And even if the star did throw a tantrum back in 2007, if he’s reportedly “showing interest” in hosting duties, one can assume that he would take the job seriously.
Perhaps that interest is rooted in Eddie’s own realization of what the cushy hosting role could mean for his career. I couldn’t speak of an appreciation for movies like Norbit, even with someone else’s tongue, but I can say Eddie has starred in many of my all-time favorite movies and comedy specials. We may not have seen the man behind Raw and Delirious on stage in a long time, but he’s been hinting at a return to stand up comedy for years now.
During his recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Murphy told fellow comic Ellen, “Within the last six months or so, I started getting an itch to do it again. I started writing stuff…. I was like, ‘I could go and do 15, 20 minutes right now. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll start working out again.”
Eddie dropped similar hints to Extra and various talk show hosts a few years prior, but perhaps hosting the Oscars will give him the push he needs to follow through on past promises of returning to stand up.
As for the idea that his box office muscle weakening, and thus makes him a poor choice to host, name the last $100 million grossing film by Murphy’s rumored competition for the job — Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld…
Eddie has great comedic timing, is extremely personable, and the choice will be exciting. Plus, it would give him the chance to remind people of his talent. Let Murphy host and should he bomb, they still have Crystal’s number.