Eddie Murphy quits as Oscars host after gay row

LOS ANGELES, Michael Thurston- Eddie Murphy quit Wednesday as host of this year's Oscars, a day after the producer resigned over anti-gay comments, leaving organizers scrambling three months before the awards season climax.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak announced Murphy's departure a day after producer Brett Ratner -- director of current box office hit "Tower Heist," in which Murphy stars -- quit as producer of the February show.

Eddie Murphy quits as Oscars host after gay row
"I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," Sherak said in a statement.
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.
No immediate replacements were announced, but the twin departures will leave the widely-respected Academy scrambling to find replacements for the annual extravaganza, planning for which starts almost as soon as the last year's show is over.
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 criticized 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 honored 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, 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.
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 Linday 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 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."
The Los Angeles Times commented in a blog: "Ratner not only embarrassed the academy by insulting legions of gay people (who are perhaps the Oscars' last remaining loyal demographic).
"He also made himself look like even more of an artistic featherweight by making it clear that he views the hard work and preparation that most filmmakers put into their craft -- i.e. rehearsal time -- as being for chumps, not fast-talking smoothies like himself."
Next year's Oscars show -- the 84th Academy Awards, at which Hollywood's most coveted prizes, the famous golden statuettes, are handed out -- is scheduled for February 26.

Thursday, November 10th 2011
Michael Thurston

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