And just like that, he’s gone. Not even 24 hours after director Brett Ratner resigned as producer of next Feburary’s Academy Awards amid controversy, host Eddie Murphy has stepped down as Oscars host. Whether Murphy would soldier on without Ratner became part of the discussion soon after the producer parted from the ceremony, and now the world has its answer.
No matter how you look at it, this is a disappointment. Whether Murphy had succeeded or failed, the comedy icon needed to answer the question once and for all: “Does Eddie still have it?”
After Ratner decided to step down as producer, the void held promise for the ceremony. Hiring Ratner in the first place was an attempt to rejuvenate the dead, sometimes literally, award show. (They resurrected Bob Hope last year. The kids love Bob Hope.) Ratner has never represented the Academy’s long-desired missing demographics, and having to replace him posed an opportunity to start with a clean slate and give it another go.
What did hang on from Ratner’s Oscarcast, Murphy as host, was certainly more than enough for any new talent to work with. Murphy was in a unique position to span a generational gap and reach a large audience. Granted his recent films have drawn a fair amount of criticism, a funny, edgy Murphy is not someone so far gone that people have forgotten him.
Murphy is not someone to ever forget. He is a legend, too funny to ever really go away.
With a new producer, the Oscars could have set the perfect stage for Murphy to prove that he never did lose it and that “Meet Dave” and “Norbit” weren’t really what Murphy had become. Even before Ratner had left, that’s what the Murphy-hosted Oscars were supposed to be.
But during interviews in recent weeks, Murphy commented on the job, specifically what he wouldn’t do. He wasn’t going to do the same song and dance routine that hosts had done in recent years. This could have been read two ways: either he was going to phone it in or he was going to do the Oscars his way and not let formula rule.
The biggest disappointment here is that we will never know. Instead of giving a comedy legend one of the world’s largest stages to make his own and prove his chops once again, we lost the opportunity because of some strange loyalty between Ratner and Murphy. Why was Ratner so essential to the Oscars that Murphy couldn’t go on without him? Maybe, Murphy also objects to rehearsals.
Who knows? At least now, we can all get behind a “Muppets as Oscar Hosts” campaign.
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