Update: It’s official.
Groucho Marx once famously remarked that he wouldn’t want to belong to any organization that would accept him as a member. It appears Eddie Murphy agrees with him, as the notoriously sore loser is in talks to host the upcoming 84th Academy Awards. Just four years after being denied entry to the exclusive, gold-statuette-having club he should have joined on the back of this scene alone, Murphy might return to the very same theater he angrily decamped after losing the Supporting Actor Oscar to an equally unsmiling Alan Arkin.
Even though we may have doubted new Oscar producer Brett Ratner’s bona fides in the past, we have to give him credit for this one: Despite recent evidence to the contrary, Murphy remains an incandescent performer, capable of outshining even outfits like this. Our only disappointment is the way his potential hosting gig — which is far from a lock; Murphy has dropped out of more things than a skydiving instructor — is being pre-spun. One of Nikki Finke’s “insiders” is already on record as saying Murphy deserves the gig because he’s the world’s biggest cinephile: “Eddie can quote scenes from every movie word for word” — as if fealty to the dialogue from Brief Encounter is all that’s required for hosting the world’s most self-congratulatory cocktail party! No, Eddie shouldn’t host the Oscars because he’s part of the Hollywood machine but because he’s spent the last two decades building up a Klump-sized brick of resentful rage against it. In his comedic prime, nobody could make his victims laugh as hard as Eddie Murphy; with his impressionistic brilliance and otherworldly timing he was the stand-up scene’s most effective frontstabber. It was no secret, even long before his Dreamgirls loss caused him to quit the Kodak in a huff, that Murphy was ferociously bitter about his lot, furious that his unmatched talent had been reduced to voicing a donkey in cartoons. (Multi-billion-dollar cartoons, but still.) The hosting gig would give him the perfect chance for uproarious, score-settling revenge.
The Eddie we’d like to see prowling the stage next February wouldn’t fling genial stroke-jobs at Jabba the Nicholson in the front row or recite toothless Vilanch-isms G-rated enough to make even Jim Caviezel crack a smile. What excites us is the possibility of Eddie Murphy at his Delirious best, eyeing the assembled fat and happy celebrity masses the same way a hungry coyote would consider an unattended rotisserie grill. Only Murphy could conjure up the perfect cocktail of wit, danger, and anger that would make the show unmissable. With him at the helm, the Oscars would be both hilarious and unpredictable — which are two things Murphy himself hasn’t been since he hung up his old Jewish man costume. Hollywood: Taste the soup and make this happen!