It came as such a pleasant surprise a few months ago when Eddie Murphy was announced as the host of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. I figured after the nightmare that was James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year, the producers would opt for a safer and familial bet like Billy Crystal. But, they didn’t and I was excited that another former stand-up comedian was returning to the emcee duties. I grew up on the comedian/actor’s films and used to be able to repeat “Delirious” and classic SNL skits verbatim. I was hopeful he’d bring a fresh, “Raw” quality to a telecast that had been uber lame in recent years.
Like most Murphy fans, I’d been waiting for years for him to return to his comedic roots and ditch the family comedies. I figured the Oscars would be a great platform to run wild as he did in the 1980s. Excitement continued just last week, when I read Rolling Stone‘s terrific cover story on him and was still psyched to see him return to old school form in “Tower Heist” despite what I’d heard. Now that Murphy has dropped out as Oscar host, it negates any positive feelings I’ve had for the reclusive star. This is such a cop out.
For months, Murphy has hyped up his own performance on Oscar night — especially in the recent press he’s done for “Heist,” but the first chance he gets to drop out, he does. His “Heist” director and friend Brett Ratner rightfully bowed out of producing the telecast after letting his mouth wander way too much. To his credit, the filmmaker owned up, apologized for the anti-gay slur he made as well as other comments he made while promoting “Heist.” The case should’ve been closed yesterday when Ratner bolted. I find it very hard to believe that Murphy couldn’t host with a different producer. I wonder if he’d still host if “Heist” didn’t tank in the box office. Clearly he’s only looking out for himself here. He can’t risk bombing as host after his new movie unexpectedly bombed. His career may not be able to handle that. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just a deep loyalty thing Murphy has with Ratner, but I feel if the Oscars were as meaningful to him as he’s been saying, he would’ve trucked on.