Is Eddie Murphy going to host the 2012 Academy Awards? No decision has officially been made, but sources close to the show say the comedian has emerged as the top candidate to do the honors for the February broadcast. A decision could come as early as this week when producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer meet with Academy of Motion Pictures President Tom Sherak. Representatives from the Academy declined to comment on Sunday.
While nothing is set in stone, the thinking behind Murphy as host is a return to the basics of what has worked on shows past. (Reports about Murphy's potential hosting first surfaced over the weekend on a website covering black comedians and entertainment.)
Recent attempts at changing up the hosting duties from the popular single-comedian format -- two actors (James Franco and Anne Hathaway), two comedians (Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin) -- haven't been as successful. Murphy would represent the kind of talent that has historically worked best: An energetic comedian who is quick to improv -- he's a "Saturday Night Live" veteran and his very R-rated live show "Raw" was turned into a popular film in 1987. Still, his live-on-stage talent hasn't been in use in about a quarter-century, so going with Murphy is a risky decision. Plus, aside from his voice work in the "Shrek" series, Murphy's movie career hasn't exactly been on fire recently. (He was, however, nominated for an Oscar for 2006's "Dreamgirls.")
While the producers may believe that putting this famous actor in this role is something of an exciting choice, that could prove to be a big mistake should Murphy's upcoming two movies fail to connect at the box office. His next effort, "Tower Heist" (directed by Ratner) will debut in early November, while the long-shelved, and likely more problematic "A Thousand Words" won't open until January, one month before the Oscars.
Besides Murphy, other names being bandied about for hosting duties include Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld. If Murphy is selected, the choice will likely disappoint anyone in Britain who's already laid down money with bookies -- one popular site came out this week with their odds on various possible Oscar hosts, giving the best shot (at 6-1) to Oprah Winfrey, followed by Steve Martin (8-1), Bradley Cooper and Crystal (9-1 each). Murphy wasn't even listed.
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: Eddie Murphy. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images