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Brett Ratner Gay Slur Forces Him Out of Oscar Ceremony

Brett Ratner may be stepping down as Oscar producer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. THR mentions “a source close to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” for this story. The Academy is supposed to “make an announcement shortly.”

On Friday, during a q&a for Tower Heist in Hollywood, Ratner said that “rehearsal is for fags.” He later apologized for his remark. Also a few days ago, on a cable TV show he claimed he had “banged” actress Olivia Munn a few years ago in response to Munn's ridiculing him in her book. On Howard Stern's Monday radio show, Ratner said he had lied about having banged Munn, but then went on to assert that he had made Lindsay Lohan take an STD test before they had sex.

Brett RatnerYesterday, Academy president Tom Sherak said Ratner would remain involved in the show, while adding that the filmmaker would have to toe the line:

The bottom line is, this won't and can't happen again. … I've known this man for a very long time. He has many friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. The apology he gave I truly believe comes from his heart. If it didn't believe it, I would do something about it. This is about integrity and honoring the Academy Awards, but we all make mistakes and I believe he didn't mean it.

Ratner is the one who brought in his Tower Heist star, Eddie Murphy, as Oscar host. It's unclear if Murphy will remain in that position. Don Mischer is the Academy Awards ceremony co-producer.

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Brett RatnerDear Colleagues,

Over the last few days, I've gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances.

To them, and to everyone I've hurt and offended, I'd like to apologize publicly and unreservedly. As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments.

And they pale in comparison to what any gay, lesbian, or transgender individual must deal with as they confront the many inequalities that continue to plague our world.

So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter.

Having love in your heart doesn't count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I've so foolishly perpetuated.

As a first step, I called Tom Sherak this morning and resigned as a producer of the 84th Academy Awards telecast. Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career. 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.

I am grateful to GLAAD for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised and I look forward to working with them.

I am incredibly lucky to have a career in this business that I love with all of my heart and to be able to work alongside so many of my heroes. I deeply regret my actions and I am determined to learn from this experience.

Sincerely, Brett Ratner

Brett Ratner's open letter via The Insneider

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Lindsay LohanBrett Ratner – filmmaker (X-Men: The Last Stand, Rush Hour) and 2012 Oscar telecast producer (with Don Mischer) – appeared on the Howard Stern radio show today. In addition to telling Stern and his listeners that he had never actually “banged” Olivia Munn (who had claimed in a book that she had seen him masturbating with shrimp-greasy hands), Ratner bragged that he made Lindsay Lohan (photo) take an STD test before having sex with her.

“I'm like a cootie freak. I'm a germaphobe. I'm a hypochondriac. Before I go all the way, I send the girl to the doctor and check them for everything. My doctor has a test to tell if you're going to catch something in the future even.”

Earlier today, Ratner apologized for saying that “rehearsal is for fags” during a Tower Heist q&a at Arclight Hollywood on Friday. Later today, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak, who believes Ratner's gay-slur apology was genuine, said that Ratner will remain as Oscar show co-producer.

Sherak added that Ratner could not – would not – make another such public faux pas. It's unclear whether Sherak was aware of the Olivia Munn banging tale or about Lindsay Lohan's STD test, though, really, Ratner's sex life is his own. If only he'd remember that himself.

Twitter has been abuzz with suggestions for Brett Ratner Oscar ceremony replacements, ranging from Julie Taymor and James Cameron to Albert Brooks and Baz Luhrmann (“Anything that gets him off 'Gatsby'”). Ah, Béla Tarr and Lars von Trier, too.

Ratner quote via The Vulture

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Brett RatnerThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hasn't released an official statement about the Brett Ratner/gay slur fiasco. Yet, according to Deadline.com, Ratner will keep his job as Oscar telecast co-producer. Academy president Tom Sherak has told Deadline the following [read full text at Deadline]:

The bottom line is, this won't and can't happen again. … I've known this man for a very long time. He has many friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. The apology he gave I truly believe comes from his heart. If it didn't believe it, I would do something about it. This is about integrity and honoring the Academy Awards, but we all make mistakes and I believe he didn't mean it.

Sherak made no mention of Brett Ratner banging – and then not banging – Olivia Munn, but perhaps that was a good thing. But Sherak is dead wrong when he says that Ratner apologized as quickly as any human being could. The “rehearsal is for fags” remark was uttered at a Tower Heist q&a on Friday; Ratner's public apology was published in TheWrap on Monday, after his remarks created a stir online.

Also, can you have gay friends and be an anti-gay bigot, or have Jewish friends and be an anti-Semitic bigot, and so on? This is a rhetorical question. Only someone very naive would believe that you can't.

It's unclear whether Sherak and the Academy would have been as forgiving had the slur been directed at Jews, blacks, Asians, Mexicans, women or some other group.

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Brett RatnerThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has issued a terse statement regarding the official resignation of Oscar telecast co-producer and Rush Hour director Brett Ratner. See below:

This morning, Brett Ratner submitted his resignation as a producer of the 84th annual Academy Awards to Academy President Tom Sherak. Ratner then issued an open letter to the entertainment industry in which he explained his decision.

“He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself,” Sherak said. “Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent.”

The gist of the open letter signed by Ratner has to do with his use of a gay slur while at a q&a for his recently released action comedy Tower Heist. But his recent public comments about Olivia Munn and Lindsay Lohan surely haven't endeared him to anyone.

On Monday, pressure mounted that Ratner either resign or be fired after the website The Vulture published the filmmaker's remark “rehearsal is for gays.” That was followed by recordings of Ratner discussing his alleged sexual misadventures with Munn and Lohan. Officially, Ratner resigned from his position as Oscarcast co-producer (Don Mischer remains on board); whether he was forced to resign – or else – is unclear. (The Academy, which was accused of being homophobic after odds-on Best Picture favorite Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash in early 2006, was considerably more lenient following a similar gay slur controversy involving Jerry Lewis three years ago.)

It' is also unclear if the Academy will find a replacement for Ratner, as the Oscar ceremony is only about three months down the road. Last night, Twitter was abuzz with suggestions for Ratner replacements; those ranged from James Cameron to Lars von Trier.

So far, no word on whether Tower Heist star Eddie Murphy will want to keep his hosting duties. If Murphy stays, don't expect any Brett Ratner jokes.

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Brett RatnerWhen the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Brett Ratner, best known for action flicks such as Rush Hour 3, After the Sunset, and X-Men: The Last Stand, would co-produce with Don Mischer the Oscar ceremony telecast, eyebrows were raised so high they reached some people's lower backs. Now they have gone round and are probably up to their belly button.

A few days ago, on the cable station G4's Attack of the Show Ratner claimed he “banged” actress Olivia Munn (I Don't Know How She Does It) “a few times … but I forgot her,” partly because “she wasn't Asian” at the time. Ratner's classy remarks were a response to Munn's equally classy remarks in her book Suck It, Wonder Woman: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, in which the author claims she caught Ratner jerking off his tiny dick while stuffing his face with bits of greasy shrimp. (Munn's actual, high-literature words were: “a grown man in an oversized shirt holding his undersized manhood in hands glistening with shrimp fat.”)

Now comes the news (initially reported in The Vulture) that while taking part in a Tower Heist q&a at the Arclight Hollywood last Friday, Ratner answered a question about rehearsing his cast with the following:

Rehearsal? What's that? Rehearsal's for fags. Rehearsal. Not much. A lot of prep, preparation, complex action sequences, visual effects. Storyboards, animatics. The process was I made the actors stick to the script. And they wanted to, because the script was great.

Is using the word “fag” any less offensive than using any other vicious slur directed at any other group? Where does the Academy draw the line when it comes to what is acceptable for an Academy representative – as the Oscarcast co-producer, Ratner is an Academy representative – to say and do in public?

Back in September, the movie director had apologized for including a joke about epilepsy in the TV trailer for Tower Heist. Today, he has apologized (via TheWrap) for saying in public what people like him should only say among like-minded buddies:

I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.

It could be that the Academy's Board of Governors were impressed by Ratner's New York Film Academy commercials, or perhaps they were overstuffed on shrimp cocktails when they picked Ratner for the job. Either way, maybe there's still time for them to go looking for another Oscar show producer.

Brett Ratner director

This is what Mark Harris quite eloquently has to say at Grantland:

I've had to listen to versions of every one of these mea-not-quite-culpas over the years and seriously, I'm no longer interested in patiently witnessing the slow arc of a public figure's learning curve. What I do care about is what the Academy does, which should be either to ask for and receive his resignation from the show or to drop him as the producer of a show that is supposed to represent the best the industry has to offer. There's not really a long, nuanced debate to be had about this. If he had used an equivalent racial or religious slur, the discussion would go something like, “You're fired.” Apology or not. The same rule applies here. You don't get a mulligan on homophobia. Not in 2011.

Well, maybe not in 2011. But back in 2008, Jerry Lewis was named the next recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award despite having said on Australian television “Oh, cricket? It's a fag game. What are you, nuts?” a mere two months prior to the Academy's announcement.

Sharon Stone hasn't come to Brett Ratner's defense yet, though there's still time. The year before the Jerry Lewis furore, Stone claimed she called all her gay friends “big fags” in response to a big to-do following Isaiah Washington's use of the word “faggot” at a Golden Globes press conference. Washington had previously used the word in reference to fellow Grey's Anatomy player – and openly gay man – T.R. Knight.

And the previous year, Michael Arndt won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, which features a crowd-pleasing joke about a “fag rag.” Alan Arkin's grouchy gramps delivers that pointed jab to Steve Carell's gay character, who doesn't respond.

As for Ratner-picked Oscar ceremony host Eddie Murphy, well, he's supposed to go back to his stand-up days and liven up the usually drab Oscar show. Well, if so, check out this YouTube video. Warning: Murphy's stand-up routine is very, very, very offensive – not necessarily because of the anti-gay slurs and stereotypes he uses, but because of its – and his – sheer nastiness and imbecility. But the crowd loved it all, and that's what matters if you want ratings. (Ironically, in 1997 Murphy was stopped by police with a transvestite sex worker in his car. The actor said he was being a good samaritan, having merely offered the man a ride.)

Now, if Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy were to go – something I don't believe will happen – who'd would be my picks for Oscar ceremony producer/host?

Well, Vanessa Redgrave is appearing on stage in the West End, but maybe Michael Moore and/or Susan Sarandon and/or Barbara Kopple is/are available. Would two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer fly out from London? George Clooney, anyone? And where are Hattie McDaniel and Cary Grant when you need them?

James Cameron wouldn't be my personal choice at all, but thinking just in terms of ratings, how about having the Avatar/3D-converted Titanic guy producing the 2012 Oscarcast in 3D?

Come to think of it … Does the Academy want ratings? (Do cats want fish?) Then have Cameron produce the 3D show and get Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner as hosts. Ratings will go not just through the roof – they'll go through the Himalayas' mountain tops. As a plus, Pattinson is much funnier than Murphy ever was, while Stewart and Lautner are much more pleasant to look at.


         
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1 Comment to Brett Ratner Gay Slur Forces Him Out of Oscar Ceremony

  1. Caroline

    I think it's a good thing Brett Ratner left. The Oscar show wouldn't have been the same with Ratner as one of the producers.