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I wrote this morning that the worst decision Eddie Murphy could make would be to step back from hosting the Oscars now that Brett Ratner is out as producer; turns out, he's done it anyway. The Academy has announced in a press release that Murphy ha withdrawn as the host of next year's awards, giving out this gracious but deliberately vague statement:
"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."
It's not hard to predict why Murphy withdrew-- a notoriously press-shy actor who's done essentially nothing but vanity projects for the last decade or so ( save Dreamgirls), Murphy was likely resistant to hosting the show in the first place, and agreed to do it only thanks to his working relationship with Ratner. With Ratner gone, the respect and visibility Murphy would get from hosting the show probably isn't enough to keep him on board. Eddie Murphy earned the power long ago to work only with those he chooses, and it seemed unlikely the Academy would be able to choose another producer with the sway to keep Murphy in the fold.
So now, with a little more than three months to go until showtime, next year's Oscar ceremony is back at square one. All bets are off! Anybody could host! Anything is possible! We can hope that sense of possibility inspires the Academy to think smart and stick to what they do well, but as we all know, their desire to attract younger and newer viewers can lead to some dumb, dumb decisions (like hiring Brett Ratner in the first place, you might say). Its hard to imagine they'll find someone funnier than Murphy to find his place, but here's hoping their next picks for producer and host are at least a little less volatile.