Frankly speaking, the news that Eddie Murphy has pulled out of hosting this year’s Academy Awards following Brett Ratner’s resignation as the show’s producer sucks.
It wasn’t surprising when Ratner stepped down from his post earlier this week. Using an anti-gay slur (something Ratner did not once, but twice while promoting his film Tower Heist) has lost others significantly lower profile gigs, and rightfully so.
But Murphy has counted himself out, apparently, because he wouldn’t be working with Ratner, who directed him in Heist, as planned. “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,” said Murphy in a statement. “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.”
Those niceties are, well, nice enough, and every hired hand has the right to quit—but we’re talking about hosting the Oscars here, and when it comes to the Most Glamorous Night in Showbiz, we’d like to think our entertainers are in it for the love of entertaining. That the phrase “the show must go on!” still means something, even to highly paid actors who don’t need the work. Because if it doesn’t, why should we spend three long hours watching a room full of famous people give themselves awards?
I, for one, was looking forward to seeing Murphy return to live comedy, something he used to do better than most. Unfortunately, being blown off just isn’t that funny.
UPDATE, 11/10/11: It has been announced that Billy Crystal will be hosting the Oscars for a ninth time this year. Will it be edgy? Highly unlikely. But at least we'll chuckle and Crystal is sure to show up looking thrilled to be there. That'll do for now.