Thursday we brought you the surprising news that Brett Ratner, of Rush Hour fame, would be producing the 84th Academy Awards alongside veteran Don Mischer. Ratner swiftly got on the phone with various outlets to spin the news. But first, the award for best Twitter reaction to Ratner’s new gig (and there were plenty to choose from) goes to MadisonMathews: “Sponsors include Axe, Ed Hardy and Four Loko.”
Did the Academy anticipate the widespread ridicule that met their announcement? Truth is, Ratner is more respected inside the industry that outside of it. Still, the Academy’s quest for wider acceptance–shown by its pursuit of younger members, changes in best picture voting procedures to encourage more populist nominees, awarding the Hersholt to TV mogul Oprah Winfrey, and hiring of entertainers Ratner and Mischer–bespeaks a troubling trend in the post-Bruce Davis universe. They should not throw their highbrow Tiffany value out with the bath water. Their choice of Oscar hosts will be the next bellwether. Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, or Steve Carell, please?
Ratner was as surprised as anyone when Academy president Tom Sherak and CEO Dawn Hudson first asked him to do the awards show: “I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone.” (He had lobbied hard and pitched it, so it wasn’t out of the blue.) The comedy director certainly seems to know that he’s coming at the Oscars with outsider status—he jokes that he isn’t even invited to the awards show, and instead watches it at home with his friends.
But he also sees his knack for comedy as his greatest asset, and hints in a THR interview that he thinks previous years’ telecasts have been somewhat lacking in that department.
Of course, there is the question of scheduling. While Ratner has said that he belongs to the Oscars “for the next six months,” he is finishing up his movie Tower Heist and has two other projects in pre-production.
In a small example of cosmic humor, Ratner actually lives in Hillhaven Lodge, the former home of Allen Carr, who was ridiculed for the Oscars he produced in the mid-80s. Hopefully, the laughs at next year’s Academy Awards will be because of Ratner, not on him.