Will Eddie Murphy do unspeakable things to Oscar?
The Academy clearly wanted to stir up some buzz by hiring Eddie Murphy as the host of the 2012 Oscar telecast and they were almost instantly gratified with a flurry of commentary all over the internet once this past weekend’s rumors became official.
The general opinion seems to be surprisingly positive. Personally I think if they let Eddie be Eddie, and if Eddie still actually as an interest in being Eddie, then we might have ourselves a reason to tune into the show. I know I’m in the tiny minority of opinion when I say this is preferable to having that smug prick Billy Crystal doing the Billy Crystal Show again.
Here’s a sampling of opinions from some of the places I surf:
New Yorker film guy Richard Brody weighed in positively with an unexpected defense of 2007′s much derided Norbit: “This is great news. The prerequisite for any host should be being funny, and Murphy is one of the world’s most talented and audacious comedians. His art has been in the shadows lately; in Norbit, he turned in one of the wildest and most visceral comic turns of recent years, and instead of being widely praised for it, he became an object of derision.”
IFC’s Matt Singer: “A lot of his current film work is so forgettable that it’s easy to forget that in the 1980s, Murphy was one of the most dynamic and charismatic live performers on the planet. He was a cutting edge stand-up comedian who released two specials into movie theaters (1983′s Delirious and 1987′s Raw) and he almost single-handedly kept Saturday Night Live on the air after the original cast departed at the end of the 1970s. True, Murphy has shunned a lot of his own history — he never contributes to SNL retrospectives or reunions and he hasn’t done stand-up in decades — but guys as naturally talented as he is don’t just forget how to be a live performer. That’s why I think he’s the perfect choice as Oscars host.”
Nikki Finke: “TOLDJA!”
Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood: “Murphy rocked the 1988 Oscars when he presented the Best Picture Oscar, pissing off then-Academy president Robert Wise when he criticized the Academy’s neglect of African American performers… He’s an exciting, unpredictable choice who might actually pull in some much-needed viewers.”
Gregory Ellwood, HitFix: “While no one doubts that Murphy has the comedic chops to be an intriguing host and he’s have many rooting for him to succeed, he’s hardly known for being self-deprecating, topical or even chummy with his acting peers (usually a requirement or two or the job). If Murphy succeeds (no pressure Eddie), it could amount to one of the biggest comebacks in Hollywood history.”
In the NY Times, Cieply/Barnes sticks stuffily to something resembling facts and suggests a racial component for the decision: “For the Academy, Mr. Murphy’s appearance should bring a shot at improved ratings. In the past, according to figures provided by the Nielsen company, African-American viewers flocked to the show when it had a black host, like Mr. Rock, in 2005, or a strong run of black nominees, as in 2007, when Will Smith, Jennifer Hudson and Mr. Murphy were nominated.
S.T. Van Airsdale, MovieLine: “Oscars would be arguably the biggest stage possible to mount [a live performance] comeback — but the last thing the Academy needs or wants after its Franco/Hathaway experiment is to provide Eddie Murphy’s testing ground. Also left the bitter taste of walking out of the 2007 Oscars ceremony after losing to Alan Arkin. If he gave off the impression that he was above it all then, what could possibly have changed in five years?”
Sasha Stone, Awards Daily: “Well, the good: the “Kids are all white” Oscars decides to do something right and have a black person host once again… The bad: It’s a weird precedent to have people pushing their own movies involved in the Oscars… The ugly: it doesn’t change the real demographics of how the Oscars go down — five white male director nominees, writers, actors, etc. But hey, hats off to them for this, I think. What the hell. How much worse could it get than last year’s horror show?”
Kristopher Tapley, In Contention: “I actually want to see this. It’s fresh (in that Academy way, mind you — Murphy hasn’t done variety show work since Saturday Night Live 25 years ago). It’s unexpected. And, assuming [Tower Heist] is a hit this fall, it could do something for ratings (though probably not much — that has mostly to do with what films are nominated). So color me optimistic.”
Filed under: Opinion