OSCARS 2012: Eddie Out, Billy In!

Credit: david_shankbone Flickr.com, IMDB.com

Longtime funny man Eddie Murphy shocked many in his decision to bow out of hosting the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Wednesday.  Murphy resigned shortly after Brett Ratner – the director behind the Murphy-Stiller comedy [easyazon-link asin=”B004A8ZWWY”]Tower Heist[/easyazon-link] – stepped down due to the uproar over a controversial comment he made during a Q&A.

The comment itself is short in its entirety.  In fact it boiled down to a single word.  When questioned about how much Ratner rehearsed, he unwittingly blurted out, “Rehearsal is for f***.”  While there is no denying Ratner’s comment was in extremely bad taste, vulgar, and downright wrong…it does not necessarily mean the man should be branded a homophobe.  Ratner attempted to offer the following apology when called out for using the slur:

It was a dumb way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.

The mark left by the verbal gaff was too great however and Ratner called up Tom Sherak the following morning to submit his resignation.  Murphy decided to show his vote of confidence in Ratner and followed in his footsteps.  While some cried out this indicated bad blood on Murphy’s part, upon exiting he released this diplomatic statement:

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.

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.

Speculation started to swirl as to who would rise to the occasion in the absence of Murphy.  Ricky Gervais cheekily threw in his hat despite the fact that he is on the hit list of many wounded celebrities thanks to his meanspirited Golden Globe performance.  Twitter users chirped names like Hugh Jackman, Ellen Degeneres, Robin Williams, and Neil Patrick Harris – the latter two publically stated they are not interested.  The loudest of all the social media cries was for the motely crew of puppets known as The Muppets to take the hosting reins.  The Facebook campaign had been so successful that even morning news shows like Good Morning America had given it serious consideration.

One popular name caught the attention of the Oscar production team the most however.  A proven track record of eight successful Oscar shows made veteran host Billy Crystal a truly attractive target.  Crystal at first glance would appear to be going against their 18-35 demographic goal considering that the aging comedian is now 63.  What the folks at the Academy weren’t getting for quite awhile – as evidenced by the tongue and cheek commentary of former hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco – is that good things often improve with age.  Crystal is at the top of his game and the Oscars smartly took advantage of that.

So what do you think?  Does the thought of Crystal returning to the Oscar stage encourage you to tune in for the 2012 Oscars?

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