LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Comedian Eddie Murphy bowed out on Wednesday as host of the upcoming Oscars, one day after producer Brett Ratner who had lured Murphy into the role also exited following an uproar over his use of a gay slur.
“I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well,” Tom Sherak, president of theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, said in a statement.
On Tuesday Ratner resigned from the high-profile job as Oscar producer in the face of an industry firestorm over his answer to a question at a screening this past weekend of his new comedy, “Tower Heist,” which Murphy stars in.
Ratner was asked about using rehearsals ahead of the film shoot, and he replied “rehearsing is for fags.” He later apologized publicly, but gay rights groups and some members of the academy took issue with his use of the slur.
“First and foremost, I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony,” Murphy said in a statement.
“I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job,” Murphy said.
The academy did not name a replacement for either Murphy or Ratner, but speculation has been high in Hollywood since the weekend flap over Ratner’s statement.
Show business newspaper The Hollywood Reporter published a story Wednesday saying “A Beautiful Mind” producer Brian Grazer was in talks to produce the world’s top film honors, which will take place in February 2012. But the report, which was based on sources, could not be immediately confirmed.
Whoever is hired will be working with co-producer Don Mischer, a veteran of the awards show.
(Editing by Chris Michaud)