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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What do you think of Eddie Murphy as an Oscar host?

Eddie Murphy

As you may have heard, Eddie Murphy has been announced as the host of next year’s Academy Awards ceremony, to be held on February 26. As 24 Frames notes:

In some ways, it’s no surprise, since Murphy is starring in the upcoming film “Tower Heist,” which was directed by Brett Ratner — who is also producing the Academy Awards show with Don Mischer. “Tower Heist” is set to open in November.

By selecting Murphy, the academy is returning to its comedic host roots. The academy attempted to court younger viewers, hiring James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the 83rd Academy Awards in February. Franco, who in addition to hosting was nominated for a lead actor Oscar for “127 Hours,” was roundly trounced by critics for his lackluster performance; reviews were kinder toward Hathaway.

Over the years, comics including Bob Burns, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson, Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Chris Rock, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Stewart have hosted the awards. Crystal even admitted recently that he was available to host if the academy wanted him.

So, long tradition of comedians and comic actors hosting the Oscars. But as Kent Youngblood at The Wrap points out:

The question is what does Eddie Murphy bring to the table?

The answer depends on which Eddie Murphy we’ll be getting.

Is it the over-the-hill comedian who’s been relegated to such millstones as “Imagine That,” “Meet Dave” and “The Haunted Mansion”? Or is it the expletive-loving stand up comic channeling his greatest hits from “48 Hours” and “Beverly Hills Cop”? Both exist in some form in Murphy today, although many would say that Eddie’s best days have long passed.

For any host to succeed, the Academy finally needs to decide what type of person it wants running the show. Does it want a host that will play it safe like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres did? Or does it want one that will spice things up, for better or worse, as Chris Rock, David Letterman and Jon Stewart did with varying levels of success?

If there was a host who had the gravitas of a Bob Hope or Johnny Carson, I’d be content to go the “play it safe” route. But with the possible exception of Billy Crystal I don’t think such a host exists. To put Eddie Murphy in such a position is a recipe for a ratings disaster.

That sounds about right: Murphy can’t play it safe, because that’s just not his persona. But to play it unsafe could be a disaster, too.

What do you think of Eddie Murphy as an Oscar host? Which Murphy do you think we’ll get?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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