Oscar producers on new host Eddie Murphy: 'You cannot twist anybody's arm to do it.'

Oscar-producers

Image Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

We usually have to wait until around the end of the year to discover who’s hosting the Oscars, but today — more than five months before the Feb. 26 ceremony — we learned that Eddie Murphy would emcee the awards show. To figure out how Murphy got the prominent gig and how the comic actor will fit into the telecast, EW talked to the show’s two producers: film director Brett Ratner and TV events veteran Don Mischer.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How quickly did this all come together with Eddie hosting?
BRETT RATNER: I got the job a few weeks ago, and I just started thinking about who would be great to host. I was told that 20 people would say “no” to me before I would get a “yes.” I mentioned it to Eddie, and he said, “That’s a great idea!” So for those who think I was planning this, it was not something that was planned. It just happened that I’m making a movie [November’s Tower Heist] with him. We had a great time working together. We have a great relationship — he probably wouldn’t have done [the Oscars] if we didn’t have that relationship. From what I understand from Don, who does a lot of these live event shows, Eddie is constantly saying “no.” He’s very elusive, but I think he thought it was a great idea to do it together.

You’re announcing the host earlier than normal. Was it a deliberate decision to find a host so early?
BR: No, it just happened that I had the conversation with him over the [Labor Day] holiday. He said “yes” and nowadays, with Nikki Finke in our world, there are no secrets anymore.
DON MISCHER: This all happened in like three days over the weekend.

When did you first call Eddie?
BR: I didn’t call. I was with him on Saturday [doing publicity for Tower Heist], and I talked about it with him. Then I called Don and said, “I think this is going to happen.” Don wasn’t very encouraging…
DM: Because many times people who do what I do have tried to book Eddie Murphy. It’s tough to get him to agree to do a show. He seldom says yes, so I said to Brett, “Don’t count on it.”
BR: Then I called [Academy president] Tom Sherak and said, “Look, I’m not going to keep talking to [Eddie] about hosting. I think it has to become official and the Academy has to do it the right way.” They called Paul Bloch, [Eddie’s] publicist. And then the next thing you know, on Sunday, I get a press release emailed to me on my BlackBerry. I’m like, “Wow, I guess this is happening!” And then today we announced it.

Sounds like Eddie didn’t need much convincing.
DM: When it comes to hosting the Oscars, you cannot twist anybody’s arm to do it. The first thing we as producers know is that if somebody steps out on that stage at the top of the show, they have to be completely comfortable. They have to want to be there. They got to be committed, and they got to feel good about it.
BR: And this is Eddie’s world — performing not only in front of a live audience as he did on SNL, but in front of a crowd like he did with Raw and Delirious. No one’s better at this than him.

Raw had 223 f-words in it. Can Eddie do stand-up comedy and keep it PG-rated?
BR: I just did Tower Heist with him, and he was funny as hell and didn’t say one bad word. Yes, he’s a surprising talent, and he’s going to surprise people and be irreverent. But he also knows how to not only entertain the crowd, but how to move people. He’s a storyteller — that’s what makes him so special as a comedian. It’s a different type of comedy. If you watch his [stand-up] shows, regardless of the curse words, he told great stories.

Don, how does having a single host like Eddie Murphy affect the way you’ll approach directing the show?
DM: It’s doesn’t affect that a whole lot. I think having Eddie as a single host makes the most sense. He’s such a comedic genius, and it’s hard to imagine him paired with somebody. Brett and I want to really keep the show moving, keep the banter down to a minimum, and keep it very quickly paced. With someone who’s got the wit, charm, and comedic ability that Eddie’s got, it can be funny but really move quickly.

Did you guys even consider having two hosts?
BR: No, we were talking mostly about having one, single comedian. Our goal is make a show that’s much quicker paced and ends within a reasonable amount of time. When there are two hosts, the opening gets longer because they got to share the material.

Billy Crystal had indicated that he’d like to host again. Will he still be involved?
BR: I would be honored to have him be a part of this. He was great last year. I was home, and I got excited when I saw him [on the show].
DM: Hopefully we’ll come up with something that would interest him.

In 2007, Eddie walked out of the Kodak Theatre after losing [to Alan Arkin for Best Supporting Actor], and some may wonder whether that makes him the right person to host the Oscars. Was that a concern?
BR: Well, he had to go to the bathroom really bad [laughs]. But he has such love and admiration for the Academy. I think it’s one of his dreams to win an Oscar. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but maybe it’ll be a part of the opening monologue. Who knows?

Brett, in the press release, you said that Eddie is going to bring “tremendous heart to the show.” Can you elaborate?
BR: The heart comes from having a host who really has such love for not only their job, but for what they’re there honoring. All [Eddie and I] talk about is movies. All we talk about is great moments in film. Eddie probably watches a few movies every single day. That makes it poignant when you have somebody who has such love and respect for something, instead of someone who’s just going up to tell jokes. He was at my house for my birthday, and I had Al Pacino and Warren Beatty there, and he was so in awe of them. And I was like, “But you’re Eddie Murphy!”

Read more:
It’s official: Eddie Murphy to host 2012 Oscars
Eddie Murphy, Oscar host: Can he bring the funny?
How Brett Ratner will change the Oscars: ‘It entails comedy’

Comments (52 total) Add your comment
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  • Clarke

    Yuck

    • doug

      Yuck is right. Billy Crystal or I’m going to skip it this year.

      • Sina

        Yuck??? Eddie’s hosting the Oscars next year……”How U doin?”

      • wsugar

        Why 2 pictures of old white guys, what about eddie. This article is so racist, it even implied he would not be a good host because he did not win the oscar. All of hollywood knows he deserved, he was Gumby damm it!

      • Squishmar

        Um, wsugar, the pictures of the two “white guys” is because they were the two people being interviewed.

    • Mac

      I’m looking forward to it, but not expecting a whole lot. It’s the Oscars, afterall.

      • Jethro

        Worst choice yet with Eddie as host, didn’t learn anything from last year’s duo debacle!

        There goes the bleeping and racial comments!

    • harry

      Yuck??? are you kidding me?

    • Puck

      Awesome! I’m there!

    • Alex F

      This would’ve been great news in 1984, when Eddie was still funny.

  • joe luck

    Are we still hating on Eddie Murphy because it’s the cool thing to do these days?

    • Tad

      No, it’s because he’s an irrelevant washed-up has-been.

      • Piers

        In fact he’s so insignificant that you felt compelled to post about how little he matters? LOL

      • harry

        godd one “Piers”

      • mar

        he is not as irrelevant as billy crystal.

  • KWise

    Is it 1985? If so, having Eddie Murphy as the host is a really great idea.

    • Kvivik

      I swear it must be. This guy was relevant then, but is soooo irrelevant now.
      I didn’t watch last year’s debacle…now I know I won’t watch this year either,

      • Piers

        You must be with Tad. ROFL

      • larry

        OK so wait, Anne Hathaway and James Franco are pretty relevant right? But how did last year’s Oscars go? Exactly. Now no disrespect to Billy Crystal but is he really relevant? I think you just don’t like Eddie Murphy and that’s cool. Just admit that, don’t watch the Oscars, and miss out.

      • goober

        LARRY IS COMPLETELY RIGHT!!!

  • hmmm…

    He will be brilliant. Can’t wait.

    • LOL

      I bet he kills. People will be surprised. Mark it down.

  • Lincoln

    It sucks when journalists and interviewers don’t know all the facts. The interviewer here makes it seem like Eddie Murphy left because he lost. They’re insinuating that Eddie was a saw loser and he doesn’t deserve to host because he walked out. Eddie Murphy discussed why he left. He had to leave early. He said it in interviews during the pre shows. He wasn’t going to stay the whole night because he had to leave early. He wasn’t mad. He said so himself!

    • cg

      That would be sore loser you ignno

      • wsugar

        No, he SAW that he lost and then he left.

  • RAW

    Thank you to the Tea Party members for commenting. Eddie Murphy is a classic American comedian. His Saturday Night Live sketches are legendary, his stand ups were etched into our brains, and many of his movies served as commentary about our culture, from politics, to our class system, go back and check… Don’t forget, he has been the boice of Donkey in the Shrek movies, one of the most successful series of the last decade.
    I’m looking forward to it.

  • jason

    Why is everyone hating on this guy…jus because he was in some real bad movies…he was also very talented at one time and had a lot of good movies..Give the man a chance, im SURe it will be much better than last year…I think hes going to do great..hopefully help his career…stop hating

  • Rebecca Honey

    I wish Eddie Murphy would do movies for adults again like he used to and ceases doing children’s films. It would be sad and disappointing if he doesn’t.

    Everyone is ready to give up on him. He has alienated his fanbase for years and has seemingly gone out of his way to make lousy children’s movies, with only the occasional film for adults once in a while.

  • MysterWright

    Hey all you haters its not any more fair to say that all you’d want as host are Donnie and Marie than it would be to say Eddie can’t do it so y’all hush up. What do you want to see, someone whose just made a movie last year or choices that although still riotously funny had chosen to stay low-key throughout the GW Bush regime? I’m sure if it came right down to it then even Billy Crystal would give you guys a Harpo Marx googie. ( )*( )

  • Callie

    Just because he might be able to go 3 hours without cursing, I cannot trust the fact that he isn’t going to be raunchy. Even though I LOVE to watch the Oscar’s; I won’t be able to with Eddie as the host.

  • Xena

    Eddie Murphy has extreme talent and could be a GREAT host. The only thing that could tank him would be reliance on the verbal bombs that pepper his standup. It’s totally unnecessary and he’s way funnier without them. P.S. if you haven’t seen it, check out his “Party All the Time” video. That’s classic MTV stuff.

  • serisiouly

    I think he will do good, he changed his style of movies cause he wanted his kids to be able to watch the movies he was making, so I think that the show he will control himself so his kids that are much older and younger can watch the show without him thinking that he is being a bad parent or something. He has said in many interveiws thats why he made the movies that he has made in recent years.

  • lindsey

    Finally. Someone who I can look forward to watching the Oscars for.

  • Natalie

    Look, he can’t be any worse than Hathaway and Franco last year. They needed to go in a completely different direction after that disaster and they did. When Eddie Murphy has good material, he kills…the problem is that he hasn’t had good writing or production behind him lately. Let’s just wait and see.

  • (.)

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    • wsugar

      that’s right.

      • Piers

        I had one, too, but the wheels fell off.

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