[UPDATE: Murphy has withdrawn as host of the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, following the departure of the show's (former) producer, Brett Ratner.]
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was clearly aiming to mix things up a bit (for better or for worse) when it assigned Brett Ratner with the task of producing the 84th Academy Awards ceremony. Sure enough, the story broke over the Labor Day weekend that Ratner wanted Eddie Murphy to handle hosting duties for the 2012 Oscars.
Reports are now in that Murphy has indeed accepted the job - one that many fans were hoping that the likes of Billy Crystal (who has hosted the Oscars multiple times, in the past) or Kevin Spacey would land instead.
Deadline's scoop on Murphy agreeing to lend his talents to next year's Oscar ceremony has been officially confirmed by the AMPAS. He will follow in the footsteps of fellow comedians like the aforementioned Billy Crystal, Steven Martin, Alec Baldwin, Ellen De Generes, and John Stewart, among many others who have hosted Hollywood's most famous awards show over the years.
Here is an official statement from Murphy, on the matter:
“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.”
Murphy is clearly aiming to inject some life into his career, between his Oscar duties and starring in Ratner's upcoming action-comedy, Tower Heist. Outside of lending his vocals to the third and fourth Shrek movies, the man hasn't been involved with a hit since he gave a Golden-Globe winning (and Oscar-nominated) performance in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls. Okay, technically Norbit was financially successful, but really - if you were Murphy - would you want people to even remember that movie exists, right now?
It's an... interesting move, having Murphy host the Oscars. The man has appeared in a whole slew of either lame or terrible movies over the past fifteen years (Holy Man, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Daddy Day Care, Meet Dave, etc.). However, there's no denying that Murphy is still a comedic legend. The days when he was known for his foul-mouthed comedy and provocative humor are pretty much gone; now, Murphy is still beloved for being a fast-talker, but he has created a much more family-friendly and refined public image of himself in recent years.
Whether Murphy will make for an excellent, average, or rather uninspired host at the Oscars is kind of hard to say. Some people will undoubtedly be quick to dismiss him - and understandably so, since it's hard to remember a time when liking Murphy was considered "cool," so to speak. On the other hand, perhaps the actor's absence from the limelight over the last few years will result in his particular comedic shtick feeling new and energizing when he pulls it out for the Oscars ceremony (the shtick, that is...).
Given the negative reactions to last year's "younger, hipper" Academy Awards show, it's hard to imagine that Murphy will end up being as harshly criticized - regardless of whether he sinks or sails, as a host.
You can catch Murphy on the big screen this fall in Tower Heist, which hits theaters on November 4th, 2011.
Source: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (via Deadline)