Today you could hear sighs of relief all across Hollywood when the news became official that Eddie Murphy will host the next Oscars.
Relief because this means that the Academy Awards are back on track. Last year the Oscars looked like a runaway train pursuing tweens, trendoids and other annoying folk who say “awesome” and “dude” a lot when academy leaders picked James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host. Blatantly, Oscar chiefs suddenly cared more about TV Nielsens than the historic reason for their award’s existence.
The Oscar kudofest is supposed to be Hollywood’s holy of holies, an annual family reunion held to honor the best work done by members of the clan over the past year – reigning stars, celluloid survivors, sexy hotshots. Who usually presides over family reunions? Beloved family veterans.
Granted, Eddie Murphy isn’t universally beloved in Hollywood, not by those who remember his cocky diva antics on movie sets, in public (“faggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m on stage,” he once famously fumed while doing stand-up that included insensitive AIDS jokes too) and even at the Oscars where he stormed out after losing best supporting actor for “Dreamgirls” (2006) and interrupted the presentation of the 1987 award for best picture for a tirade about racism.
But Murphy is now 50 years. He’s been humbled by bombs like “Daddy Day Care” and “Dr. Doolittle 2” throughout a career that’s been in decline in recent years. Today most tweens and trendoids don’t even know who he is. However, Murphy may be back on the upswing soon with the release of “Tower Heist” and “A Thousand Words.” He’s still a player and obviously he’s a survivor. And – unlike James Franco and Anne Hathaway – he’s funny. At least when he’s not bashing gays and AIDs victims.
Personally, I think that combination – humor and being a Hollywood icon – are two strong attributes of the best Oscar hosts. Like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal. Let’s hope we can soon add Eddie Murphy to that list. Meantime, he’s a worthy choice to try.
RELATED LINK: All Is forgiven as Eddie Murphy picked to host Oscars
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Photo: Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks)