This will be Murphy's first time as Oscar host. Predecessors include Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
A couple of months ago, it was rumored that the Academy and/or Ratner and Mischer were after Oprah Winfrey as Oscar hostess. Instead, Winfrey turned out to be a highly controversial pick for this year's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
“Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever,” Brett Ratner is quoted as saying in the Academy's press release. “With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances - especially on stage - I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February.”
Just don't expect anything along the lines of Eddie Murphy Raw. This is the Oscars, after all. Ratner, by the way, also happens to be the director of Tower Heist, Murphy's upcoming star vehicle that opens next November. Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Téa Leoni, Alan Alda, Gabourey Sidibe, and Michael Peña co-star in the action comedy.
Best known for his series of low-brow/kiddie-oriented comedies, Eddie Murphy's movies include 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, The Nutty Professor, Doctor Dolittle, and Norbit. Murphy also provided the Donkey voice in the Shrek movies, and received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Bill Condon's Dreamgirls. Murphy's two most recent comedies, Imagine That and Meet Dave, turned out to be gigantic flops in the United States; overseas, Meet Dave was merely a disappointment, while Imagine That was a total disaster.
The information below is from the Academy's release:
Murphy began his career at the age of 15 as a stand-up comedian. In 1980, at the age of 19, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, becoming the show's youngest cast member to that point, and bringing to life many of the show's most memorable characters. His 1983 album “Eddie Murphy: Comedian” won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording. It included portions of his groundbreaking HBO special Eddie Murphy Delirious.
In 1987, Eddie Murphy Raw was theatrically released and went on to gross over $50 million. Murphy made his feature film debut in 1982 with the classic 48 Hrs. and would go on to star in such box office hits as Beverly Hills Cop and the The Nutty Professor and Shrek franchises. All told, movies in which he has performed have earned in excess of $7 billion worldwide during their theatrical releases.
The Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the United States, the telecast will be broadcast live on ABC. The Oscarcast will also be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Photo: DreamWorks Studios