Posts Tagged ‘brett ratner’

Billy Crystal Takes the Reins…Again

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, I have just got to stop inflicting these terrible omens on myself and the rest of the world with these posts. In my most recent article, I had remarked that I hope Don Mischer does not simply “regurgitate Billy Crystal for the umpteenth time.” Well, perhaps this is not the worst way to resurrect this year’s Oscars from the Ratner debacle, but it is certainly not the best.

I should start off by stating what has already been widely reported: Brian Grazer has stepped up to fill Brett Ratner’s shoes. This is not at all a bad choice. It’s hard not to like, if not at least respect, Grazer as a class-act producer. An Academy Award winner, himself, Grazer has been a major part of such Hollywood films as “A Beautiful Mind,” “American Gangster,” “The Nutty Professor” and “Apollo 13.” To add on to his film career, and beef up his resume as a television producer, he was also behind the helm of such popular hits as “Friday Night Lights” and “Arrested Development.” The decision to hire the man was a great step forward in terms of damage control for this year’s telecast.

So, there’s the good. Let’s move on to the Academy’s less inspired decisions. Billy Crystal is taking Eddie Murphy’s place and making his ninth appearance hosting the Oscars. NINTH. The only person to perform that gig more times was Bob Hope, and many of his turns were as a co-host. The fact that Crystal has been here nine times automatically speaks to the notion that the Academy didn’t care to put any genuine creativity into their decision, but instead have simply gone back to their comfort zone of what worked for them back in a time when the Oscars were still popular with the general public.

One important thing to get across here is that I really don’t have that much against Crystal as a host. In fact, I think he’s done a great job with the show in the past. I recall that the 1997 season, in which “Titanic” took home virtually everything, was maybe the first full telecast I ever watched (I was eleven, so give me a break) and it was his hosting, if nothing else, that really got me hooked.

What I am pissed about, and may never be able to fully forgive Crystal for, are his remarks made to the Associated Press in March of this year when Crystal entertained the notion of hosting again, upon compliance with a personal condition:

“I think the show needs to change. There’s too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great.”

Let’s put aside for a moment that the Academy Awards and its selection of those awards are a long-standing and important tradition that has been a staple practically since Hollywood came into being. I’m sorry if Mr. Crystal thinks that it gets a little boring for primetime television. Let’s instead focus on the fact that the Oscars are the only time and place left in America in which all the elements that go into a film are brought together and honored. It’s the only opportunity for a cinematographer or an editor or a sound designer or a makeup artist to stand in front of a worldwide audience and be given the respect of being the best at their craft. You take that away, and the show becomes a second-rate Golden Globes: a star-fucking extravaganza that reassures that audience that all you really need to make a movie is Johnny Depp.

If any of Crystal’s notions were actually taken into effect, it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and induces me to finally change the channel. I’ve endured a lot as an Oscar prognosticator. I can deal with the campaigning, the politics, the poor-taste decisions, and even Harvey Weinstein bribing and felating voters under the table. But when you take the backbone of the film industry and shut them out in the cold because you think it will improve your ratings, you have crossed a line. For that, I say shame on you, Mr. Crystal. At long last, have you no decency?

One can only hope that our host does not get his way, and the Academy’s tradition of honoring all aspects of filmmaking remains intact. We shall find out in three months’ time.

First Ratner, Now Murphy…

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, as I predicted in the update to my last post, Eddie Murphy has left his position as this year’s Oscar host, following the resignation of producer Brett Ratner. Ratner chose (or was forced, more likely) to leave the job after his insensitive and uninspired comment about rehearsing in film production being for “fags.” After twenty-four hours of apologies, bad press and journalistic backlash, Ratner and the Academy found that stepping down was the only viable option.

As far as Murphy’s exit is concerned, he had the following comments, as reported by Nikki Finke’s Deadline:

“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.”

While Murphy’s quittage is disappointing, I can’t say that it comes as a surprise. The comedian was hand-picked by Ratner after the two shared a close relationship which was both business and personal. Murphy staying would be like remaining at a house party even after the only friend you have there checks out early. It just wouldn’t have been the same experience for him as a host. It’s really too bad for both him and the viewer, because I strongly believe that he was a fantastic choice for the night’s emcee. Now, we’ll never know.

On the other hand, after a good forty-eight hours of thought since the original incident, I believe that Ratner’s exit, be it by choice or otherwise, was the right course of action. While I still do not think like so many others that the producer’s remarks were in any way meant to be hateful or discriminating. The truth is, ignorance of that kind cannot be tolerated. In a civilization that by all rights should be miles beyond the levels of bigotry that we find ourselves still bogged down in, the use of the term “fag” or anything like it must be reprimanded. It’s the same term used by murderers who torture people for being gay and high schoolers who drive their fellow students to suicide with ridicule. For anyone to use that kind of remark, let alone the frontman for Hollywood’s most biggest and most prestigious night, it’s unacceptable, and Ratner simply should not have been that stupid.

As far as the Oscars go, who knows what’s in store? Quite frankly, it’s a mess. Hopefully, veteran co-producer Don Mischer can find the right people to fill all the vacant shoes and pull this telecast back up by its bootstraps. I can only pray that they don’t decide to just regurgitate Billy Crystal for the umpteenth time and instead actually use some inspiration in their decision-making process.

We shall see. Stay tuned to The Edge of the Frame to find out.

Brett Ratner, the Gaffe and the Academy…What a Mess

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I was originally going to let this story slide, but since the rest of the Oscar community is staring down this incident with mouths agape, I suppose I’ll throw my two cents in.

For those of you who are not aware of said spiel, it took place at a forum for the director’s new film, “Tower Heist.” When asked by a reporter if Ratner likes to run though a scene and rehearse with his actors, Ratner nonchalantly replied that “rehearsing is for fags.” The slur immediately reverberated a vicious outcry across both news outlets and the blogosphere. Certain journalists including Mark Harris from Grantland and Sasha Stone of Awardsdaily immediately called for Ratner’s head served up on a platter. It is the opinion of many that Academy should be firing the director without a second’s notice, or at least push a forced resignation.

Ratner immediately followed up his remarks with a hastily worded apology:

 “I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.”

Now, from my posts in the past, I shouldn’t have to clarify myself as a fervently liberal individual, and not many issues are more important or close to me than gay rights. In this day and age of intelligence and enlightenment, prejudice in any form is completely intolerable. This goes double for an industry where art is the primary focus and freedom of expression is everything.

However, when it comes to calling for Ratner’s instant firing over this incident, I cannot jump on the bandwagon. The man’s remarks were stupid, ignorant and of poor judgment. Yet, society has created a weird and idiotic lexical pairing of the term “fag” to “loser” or “dork.” Ratner seems to have fallen victim to this failure of language and is in need of a severe crash course in proper english rhetoric. However, I have to concur that the man’s remark did not seem inherently prejudicial or hateful. Ratner is guilty of being a moron, not a bigot. This does not mean that I believe his apology, wholeheartedly. Maybe the man is a homophobe and another huge slip-up is on the horizon. However, I don’t think with this gaffe he has yet to the entire foot into his mouth and he cannot YET be burned at the stake.

Should he be reprimanded? Yes. Should his work and life be brought under strict observation and scrutiny. Absolutely. However, I cannot agree with the notion of his firing. We’ll have to wait and see if anything else comes to light that will fuel the fire. Should any more substantial evidence of hate or bigotry come forward, I’ll be calling for his pink slip as fast as the next self-respecting human being.

UPDATE: Well it looks like Brett Ratner faced the music and quit his post as Oscar producer. In all likelihood, this was an influenced, if not forced, resignation under the guidance of the Board of Governors. Personally, I think this is a shame. Not because he didn’t act like a complete idiot or because the Academy couldn’t do better, because he did and they can. It’s a shame because he probably was planning a killer show. One can only hope that Eddie Murphy will stay on as host. However, I can’t say I expect it since he was hand-picked by Ratner. If anything, the two were practically a partnership on the deal. A real shame.

Eddie Murphy the Next Oscar Host?

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

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.