Academy President Tom Sherak wasted no time in announcing the replacement for Brett Ratner at this year’s Oscars. It will be super-producer Brian Grazer. This is a very polite solution to the problem that is Ratner. Grazer has a similar taste for mainstream fare (producing “The Nutty Professor,” “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” that dreadful live-action 'Grinch' movie), but unlike Ratner, Grazer is actually of Oscar-caliber (at least some of the time), having won Best Picture in 2002 for “A Beautiful Mind.” This writer can say with certainly that Ratner never would have won an Oscar before his string of controversial statements last week (even with his dream “Wicked” project, he would have been Rob Marshall-status), but now that he is persona non grata with the Academy, he's got an even steeper hill to climb.
The inside job aspects of Grazer replacing Ratner is clear, as both men just finished producing “Tower Heist” together. It’s a shame that Eddie Murphy already stepped down as host, as he certainly has a great working relationship with Grazer. It’s unclear if Murphy resigned out of loyalty to Ratner or fear that he would tarnish Murphy’s reputation. While being interviewed on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last week, Murphy finished explaining how he would not be returning to stand-up comedy anytime soon because he is too lazy. When Fallon pointed out that hosting the Oscars is essentially doing stand-up, Murphy seemed to realize right at that moment how much work he’d signed on for (it would surely be harder than acting in “Imagine That”). Murphy also admitted that he pitched the idea of hosting to Ratner as a way to promote "Tower Heist." After a #2 opening this past week, perhaps Murphy’s enthusiasm was for all things "Tower Heist"-related has diminished.
There was no mention of Brett Ratner or Eddie Murphy in Grazer’s announcement. What was heavily emphasized is that Grazer will be co-producing along with Olympics and Super Bowl halftime show specialist Don Mischer. Grazer showed his appreciation for the appointment, saying, “It’s very gratifying to be part of a show that honors excellence in the medium to which I have devoted so much of my career.” Grazer added, “Don is a legend, and I am excited to work with him.”
It is unclear if the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Saturday Night Live” writers hired by Ratner will stay on through Grazer’s regime. Perhaps Grazer will want to shake things up to prove that Ratner is not the puppetmaster, shadow-hosting the Oscars from behind Grazer’s foot-high haircut. Still lots to come, including formal announcements of the creative team and oh yeah, just who the hell is going to host this damn thing. There is an online drive circling for the Muppets to do it, and we could get behind that, but only if Animal performs alongside every Best Song nominee. [Deadline]