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Eddie Murphy the Next Oscar Host?

Last year, the Oscars took another step out of their old playbook by bringing back the dynamic of two Oscar hosts. They also made an attempt to fetch a youthful energy to the show with a couple of attractive thirty-year olds, playfully trying to gear the show towards…I don’t know…teenagers, I guess. As it has gone down in the history books, both of these choices failed, miserably. The Academy needs to re-evaluate where it stands in terms of presentation. It now appears that they may have taken a smart stroke towards rehabilitating themselves.

For a while it was rumored that the Board of Governors was ready to crawl on their hands and knees back to Billy Crystal and beg him to return. It appeared for a time that Crystal was actually ready to accept. He even issued a list of demands. Said list, in my opinion, would have ruined the show for those viewers who are actually watching for the sake of the movies, rather than the presentation. One stipulation was to create another non-televised event for all technical categories, including Best Editing and Cinematography, saving more time for the actors’ limelight and a bunch of song and dance.

However, this week, it was announced that the show’s producer, Brett Ratner, has issued Eddie Murphy as his preference as a host. Ratner, a Hollywood director (who’s a studio favorite because his films usually bring in a crowd, though not thoroughly talented or classy) is helming one of Murphy’s films, “Tower Heist,” slated for release this year. Not only does Murphy have extensive experience as a stand-up comedian, and therefore not under-qualified as a primetime emcee, but was recently inducted into the Academy, following his nomination in the film “Dreamgirls.”

Speaking as a person who has never been a big fan of Murphy’s stand-up routine, his stint on Saturday Night Live, or his acting career (outside of “The Nutty Professor,” which people forget actually netted him the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Actor), I believe that Eddie Murphy would be a fantastic choice for a host. He’s vibrant, nostalgic and a little bit edgy. And despite the popular belief, due to many of his recent flops, he actually can by quite funny. He also might be the key to the wider audience that the Governors are searching for.

While Billy Crystal definitely does know what he’s doing and could probably pull off a pretty decent show, he is not going to bring in any new viewers who weren’t already watching the show a decade or so ago. Eddie Murphy has the ability to reach across a far range of viewer blocks. Grown adults will remember him from “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop.” My own generation is reminiscent of his work from “The Nutty Professor” and “Dr. Doolittle.” Finally, younger audiences will recognize his work in the “Shrek” movies and “Dreamgirls.” Even when his career is a on a downturn or he’s pissing people off, he still has an element of fulfillment to a viewer, sort of like comfort food.

Granted, Murphy is not a lock for the job yet. But as producer, Brett Ratner will have a lot of pull with the decision. If it be true, he has my endorsement. If anyone remembers, I had my disdain for the Hathaway/Franco decision from the very beginning. Therefore, I have faith that my outlook will hold true again.

In my real opinion, the absolute best choice, who would both put on a great show and bring in younger viewers in droves, is Conan O’Brien. I mean, honestly, who could do better? One day the Academy will realize this.

In the meantime, I’m satisfied with Murphy. Thank goodness, too, because I don’t believe we’ve had even a decent host since Jon Stewart. Calling him decent is an insult, however. In my opinion, he’s maybe the best host of the last decade, and then some:

UPDATE: It is official. Eddie Murphy will host the Oscars, and I’m actually feeling pretty pumped about it. Check out the official AMPAS press release. Here is an excerpt of Murphy’s remarks:

“I am enormously honored to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts from Hope and Carson to Crystal, Martin and Goldberg, among others,” said Murphy.  “I’m looking forward to working with Brett and Don on creating a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre as we all come together to celebrate and recognize the great film contributions and collaborations from the past year.”

More on this, later.

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