The Conversation: Is Eddie Murphy a Good Choice to Host the Oscars? (UPDATED)

The Conversation: Is Eddie Murphy a Good Choice to Host the Oscars? (UPDATED)

Sep 06, 2011

Eddie yUPDATE: Eddie Murphy is now the confirmed host for the 84th Academy Awards, according to Deadline.

The rumor mill has dropped a big one this long weekend, and while it may not be true that Eddie Murphy is the top choice to host the 2012 Oscars, it's an interesting enough idea to consider and discuss. This is what The Conversation is best suited for, I believe, sending a message to Hollywood regarding the opinion of something or other best voted for by the people. Brett Ratner may believe his Tower Heist star is a good pick, and the Academy could agree, but we're the ones who will provide the Oscar telecast its ratings, so why not listen to us first?

Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood has reportedly confirmed Murphy is a contender but not yet a done deal. The actor is "showing interest," and now Don Mischer, who is co-producing the ceremony with Ratner, and the Oscar overlords (like AMPAS President Tom Sherak) will have to do the same. Some people are thinking the Academy heads will not favor Murphy due to his infamous walkout after losing his single Oscar nomination (for Dreamgirls) back in 2007. Ah, but let's not forget he's been back to the show already. In 2009 he presented the Jean Hersholt Award to original Nutty Professor Jerry Lewis. 

Of course, he wasn't too memorable then, but it wasn't exactly his moment either. Maybe he was also on his best behavior due to both the walkout four years ago and his unexpected speech before presenting the Best Picture Oscar at the 1988 awards, when he awkwardly admitted he didn't want to be there due to the Academy's lack of proper recognition of African American performers -- he even predicted he'd never win one due to this criticism (most of the speech can be found in a May '88 issue of Jet magazine). Then-President Robert Wise supposedly promised he'd never be welcome back as long as he was in charge. Will he be rolling in his grave come February?

Regardless, the desires for a comeback and just plain centerpiece for Murphy are worth honoring. Just because most of his movies aren't that great lately doesn't mean he can't be a terrific and funny host. Billy Crysal -- whose itch to return to the Oscars may have resulted in some other sort of role in next year's ceremony -- was emcee for years while his film career was less than stellar. Crystal is still my preference for the lead, but I'm now too curious about Murphy as host to not wish to see the result. 

What are others saying about the possibility around the web? Check out The Conversation from the blogs and Twitter below:

Now that Murphy’s name is out there, I want Murphy, and I will settle for nothing less.  Maybe I’m missing something, but Murphy—even in this dull latter stage of his career—is the perfect Oscar host, right? - Brendand Bettinger, Collider

Reportedly [Murphy] wants to return to live performing and stand-up, though confessed last year to believing that his “cool and edge are gone.” Oscars would be arguably the biggest stage possible to mount that comeback — but the last thing the Academy needs or wants after its Franco/Hathaway experiment is to provide Eddie Murphy’s testing ground. Also left the bitter taste of walking out of the 2007 Oscars ceremony after losing to Alan Arkin. If he gave off the impression that he was above it all then, what could possibly have changed in five years? [...] If Murphy gets the job and flourishes, he’s a hero. (And the chances of that Beverly Hills Cop 4 payday just skyrocketed.) If he bombs, he still hosted the Oscars and can just go off and make Nutty Professor 3. - S.T. VanAirsdale, Movieline

It sounds like Ratner and a lot of other people think this is Murphy's chance to come back and do something great-- and as much as I worry we'll get the Meet Dave Murphy instead of the Coming to America one, I think Ratner might be right. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

I, for one, think Murphy would provide the telecast a breath of fresh air. It’s been a long time since Murphy has been anything approaching what I would describe as “edgy,” but maybe a high-profile hosting job will show us the charisma and style of Murphy’s that we all fell in love with, so long ago. - David Chen, /Film

Murphy would represent the kind of talent that has historically worked best: An energetic comedian who is quick to improv -- he's a "Saturday Night Live" veteran and his very R-rated live show "Raw" was turned into a popular film in 1987. Still, his live-on-stage talent hasn't been in use in about a quarter-century, so going with Murphy is a risky decision. Plus, aside from his voice work in the "Shrek" series, Murphy's movie career hasn't exactly been on fire recently. - Nicole Sperling, 24 Frames

Ratner’s suggestion of Murphy is actually a good one as we all know he is an extremely funny ad-lib guy, is a natural and charismatic showman, and his time on Saturday Night Live and his old stand-up gigs has shown his ability to entertain live crowds. But then the post-Shrek and fat-suit/multiple characters family friendly Eddie Murphy goofball has not been the 80′s and early 90′s energetic genius for decades now and it’s been way too long since the days when you know he would make the ceremony edgy and alive, like Chris Rock did. - Matt Holmes, What Culture!

In a move that astounds me as to his actual relevance in Hollywood, Eddie Murphy is in talks to host the Oscars next year.  They'll have to bleep o ut the entire show. - Ed Kennedy, After Elton

This just seems like a very odd choice to me, mostly because I don't think Murphy is really that loved at the moment, yet that's the kind of person they need to host again (like, *ahem* Billy Crystal) [...] I have to admit it would dampen my excitement for the big Oscar show next year if it's Murphy, but you never know, he could make quite the comeback. Only time will tell! - Alex Billington, First Showing

Unless he's turned into the new Mort Sahl I wonder where he could take his monologue within a straight-jacketed network TV broadcast. Plus Murphy has never been a social-cultural commentator type -- he riffs about his own realm. Plus I don't feel Murphy is really part of the 21st Century zeitgeist -- he's basically a rich '80s and '90s guy who's hung in there. - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere


@MyBrewTube: I'd like to put my vote in now for Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars. Brett Ratner... you have my respect. It's a great idea. A great idea.

@ThePlaylist: Eddie Murphy is a great Oscar host choice. He can still bring the funny, he just makes horrible choices. But Bowfinger? Aces.

@tnyfrontrow: Great idea; one of the true funny people, deserves spotlight.

@kenjfuj: I think he'll do a fine job. It doesn't make me any more excited to watch the Oscars at all, but I'm sure he'll be good.

@WAxelFoley: Murphy is a strange choice. But might liven it up. Host doesn't really matter that much at Oscars.

@MattGoldberg: Brett Ratner wants Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars. In a related story, Oscars to become 220% more unwatchable.

@AwardsDaily: My first thought, re: Eddie Murphy was: there is no way they'd put a black guy on TV for the Oscars (again). But who knows? Great if true.

@whatcameoutofme: I hope it will be like Beverly Hills Cop and RAW. I've never seen "nutty" or NORBIT so I have high expectations.

@Pajiba: You know who is an even better choice to host the Oscars than Eddie Murphy? EVERYONE. #SayNoToNorbit

@AntwanLyon: Let's just hope Dan Aykroyd doesn't trade places with him. #SayNoToYogiBear

@ADuralde: If Eddie Murphy hosts the Oscars, his first joke has to be about when he left the show early the year he didn't win.

@droidguy1119: How many fat suits will Eddie Murphy host the Oscars in?

@denofgeek: Today's rumour: Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars. No doubt either in a fat suit, or dressed as a woman.

@JBFlint: Is it 1986 because otherwise I'm not sure what the appeal is of having Eddie Murphy hosting the Oscars. Who is his fan base these days?

@lougodfrey: Is it Eddie Murphy circa 1987? If so, I am frickin' thrilled!

@pjbyrne: Eddie Murphy favorite for Oscar host? Google him. 4th entry is story about his death. That's how relevant he is today. 

@SteeleSaunders: Can't wait for his "Oscar is swimming through the water" bit. 

And finally, from my non-blogging, non-tweeting mom, via email: "In my opinion, Oscar's last good host was Ellen DeG. I think Eddie Murphy will be very entertaining. I love the Oscars, but more so when there's a good comedian on."

Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to take part in The Conversation. 

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