More Oscars Fallout: Academy President Feels "Very Badly" for Brett Ratner; Billy Crystal Decision Explained
11.14.11 by Ryan
Earlier this month, the 84th Academy Awards telecast was set to be produced by movie director Brett Ratner and hosted by Ratner's Tower Heist star Eddie Murphy. Then, after Ratner committed two public gaffes while out promoting Tower Heist (Ratner once used a homophobic slur while discussing rehearsals and also offered a rather candid summation about his sex life with actress Olivia Munn, which he later recanted), Ratner dropped out as the show's producer, with Murphy following shortly thereafter.
Academy Award–winning producer Brian Grazer stepped in and replaced Ratner and eventually named eight-time Oscars host Billy Crystal to replace Murphy. With the dust settled, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak told EW that he felt "very badly" for Ratner.
I felt badly for Brett. Very badly. I think he did the right thing by stepping down which he did but I think everything has been a process. I think it was good that it happened quickly. And good that it happened early. God forbid this happened in January when we were in the thick of planning and writing.
While some online opinion has offered that Crystal hosting the Oscars is a "safer" choice, Sherak disagreed. "He is a great host, but when you go live on ABC at 5:30 for movie’s biggest night, safety is thrown out the door," said Sherak. "Anything can happen and some people will love it and some will hate it. And the writers will drive you crazy because one year they call us irrelevant and say we need to tap into a younger crowd and then we get young hosts [James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted this year's Oscars to less-than-thrilling results] and book younger talent and then they say we are pandering to young people too much."
Grazer clearly likes Crystal as the host as well, since, as Grazer recently explained to EW, he was the one who convinced Crystal to return as the Oscar host shortly after getting the job as the producer.
we had probably 20 different candidates. But I did tell Billy Crystal a year ago, when I was at Graydon Carter’s Oscar party, I said to him at the bar, "If I do ever [produce] the Oscars, I’d like you to do it." So I didn’t have to think about it very much. I think he’s awesome. He does it really well. He has the same goal as the audience, which is to have a good time. I reflected about a half a day about it, and then I called Billy. I just said, "Look, I’d be thrilled if you would do this. You’ll be great at it." He said, "Let me think about it for a day." So he did, and he called and said, "I’m doing it, and I’m going to tweet it out to the world." I said, "Go ahead!"
As for whether Crystal is the "safe" choice to host the Oscars, Grazer agreed with Sherak.
Where I come down is that I think Billy is awesome and I want audiences to be entertained but still maintain the glamour of Hollywood. Billy is the host, which is centrally the most important component, but there are many components to the Oscars and there are ways to artistically counterpoint Billy that can create a fabric that’s seamless and is different tonally than what we’ve seen before but still guarantees the audience a good time. If I put great artists in the show and pay attention to other demographics — there’s an equation in all art forms that counterpoint is probably the best thing to do, so I think I’m going to try to adhere to that.
We'll see if they're right when Crystal hosts the Oscars on February 26, 2012.