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Eddie Murphy quits as Oscars host

2011-11-10 09:00
 

Los Angeles - Veteran Hollywood star Eddie Murphy quit as host of this year's Oscars on Wednesday, one day after the show's producer resigned for making an anti-gay comment, organisers said.

Within hours of Murray's departure the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a replacement for Brett Ratner, who stepped down on Tuesday as producer of Hollywood's annual awards.

There was no immediate announcement of who will take Murray's place at the February 26 Oscars show.

"I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," said Academy President Tom Sherak, scrambling to deal with the double change of personnel barely three months before the awards season climax.

Murphy said: "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," he added in the Oscars statement.

Anti-gay comment

Murphy, named in September to Tinsel Town's top hosting job, was seen as a safe pair of hands after last year's Oscars co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco. The latter was notably criticised for a wooden performance.

At the time he was chosen, Murphy, who gained fame on TV show Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s before breaking onto the big screen, said he was looking forward to the gig.

"I am enormously honoured to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts, from (Bob) Hope and (Johnny) Carson to (Billy) Crystal, (Steve) Martin and (Whoopi) Goldberg, among others," he said.

But his withdrawal was not unexpected following that of Ratner - director of current box office hit Tower Heist, in which Murphy stars - who has made a series of close-to-the-bone comments in recent days.

Ratner, a prolific director and producer whose work also includes 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, made the offending anti-gay comment at a discussion about Tower Heist last week, in response to a question about how he works.

"Rehearsal is for fags," he replied.

Replacement

Then on Monday, he went on shock jock Howard Stern's show and made a series of remarks about his sex life and relationships with Hollywood actresses, including Lindsay Lohan and Olivia Munn.

"Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career," Ratner said in his resignation letter on Tuesday.

"But as painful as this may be for me, it would be worse if my association with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents."

On Wednesday the Academy, in its third Oscars personnel change in 24 hours, named his replacement as Brian Grazer - coincidentally producer on Tower Heist - to join veteran producer Don Mischer in putting on the 84th Academy Awards.

"Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work," said Sherak. "He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars."

- AFP

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