Eddie Murphy as Oscar Host: Good Choice/Bad Choice?

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Will you watch the Oscars? Will you tune in now that you knowEddie Murphy’s been tapped to host the February 26th broadcast? It’s official – he’s going to headline Hollywood’s most prestigious film awards show (notice I didn’t say Most Fun, Most Exciting, or Most Reflective of What Moviegoers Actually Think).

Eddie Murphy got the job that was once Billy’s, Whoopi’s, Steve & Alec’s, Hugh’s, Jon’s, Bob’s etc …and he’s got his work cut out for him. Not to mention the inevitable what’s-he-done-lately-kinds of remarks he’ll invariably face. However, in my opinion there’s absolutely nothing foolhardy or outlandish in this selection. The Oscars have simply opted for one of perhaps fifteen funny guys who have stood the test of time and continue to be bankable. Consider the process:

After last year’s show – which I honestly didn’t think was quite as bad as others thought – where they tried something new with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, Oscar needed to go in a completely different direction.

But before we get into specifics behind Mr. Murphy’s selection, let’s take a peek at said men behind the Oscar curtain: the producers. These are the guys with the power. The ones who pick and choose who gets up there to present things and who doesn’t. And, unfortunately, when things don’t go well, or when your broadcast sees steadily declining numbers, these are the guys in trouble. Last year, with seemingly nothing to lose, they opted for Franco and Hathaway. Which looked, given the issues facing the antiquated academy, like a great idea. Two hot actors who appeared free of addiction or romance dramarama who rarely got anything but huge plusses for their acting work. It seemed like an inspired move – and the young and good-looking part didn’t hurt one bit either.

Unfortunately, what the producers didn’t realize was that the Young Guy host would become nearly immobilized by fear/concentration/predatory lighting and seem listless and almost unresponsively passive. Nor could they have known that the Young Girl host would, in turn, suddenly become a Mouseketeer to overcompensate for her friend’s scary reaction to the spotlight. Thus, creatively speaking, suddenly now there was really nowhere to go but up – or, back. As in retro – remember how everyone loved it when Billy Crystal appeared?

So this year we have two guys producing the Oscars, and one of them is a very popular director. Perhaps you’ve seen some of his movies: Rush Hour 1, 2, and 3. Red Dragon. X Men-The Last Stand. See where I’m going with this? Brett Ratner is an action film guy and he knows how to create spectacles that people like. Which is really what Oscar would love to be, right? Particularly with its waning popularity. Now…consider this…Ratner’s latest big budget extravaganza is called Tower Heist. Have you seen the trailers? They’re out there. And guess who’s Tower Heist’s star?

That would be one Eddie Murphy.

So clearly that’s one of the primary reasons Murphy got the job. But that’s not the only reason. If you have nowhere to go but up, and you know what worked years ago, and you also know that indie kids and their edgy ways don’t cut it, what do you do? You cut your losses and tap someone very well known with the capacity to make millions upon millions of people laugh. Maybe dressed up as a portly old woman. Maybe voicing an irascible animated donkey. But it works every time.

And sure his standup was raunchy.  But it’s not like he’ll be doing any of it. Honestly –  how many other people get to star on SNL when they’re teenagers? (Sorry, Taylor). Murphy, it’s also worth noting, has brought in some $7 billion dollars in receipts for movies. So is he bankable? I’ll say. That’s why they’re going with him (and here’s betting that Tower Heist makes some hefty box office numbers in the process).

Will you tune in to catch Eddie host? I’d watch it no matter who hosted. But somehow I think this year the Oscars will please more of a crowd.

Today’s poll:

Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these Eddie Murphy movies is your favorite (& feel free to add others):

1)   Beverly Hills Cop

2)   Norbit

3)   The Nutty Professor

4)   Shrek

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