The news dropped this morning that Eddie Murphy will host next February’s Academy Awards ceremony, and the entire Twitternetinterwebversethingy lit up. Great pick, says NextMovie. Exciting and unpredictable, says Anne Thompson. Guaranteed laughs, says The Root. Some people make Gumby references. Almost everyone slags last year’s show.
Why do people fall for the same hype every year? They said the same stuff last year about James Franco and Anne Hathaway. And in 2006 about Ellen DeGeneres. And in 2005 about Jon Stewart. And in 2004 about Chris Rock. And in 1994 about David Letterman.
Here’s the thing: The host of the Academy Awards doesn’t actually do all that much. Beyond the opening monologue (and satirical musical number, if the host has the chops or is named Billy Crystal), the host mostly cracks a few jokes while introducing the awards presenters. Those jokes are usually written by a staff of writers. The telecast could easily go on without a host, as it did for a few years in the 1960s, with each presenter bestowing an award and then introducing the next presenter. The last time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences let the host reshape the Oscars in his own image was when Letterman tried to make the ceremony into an episode of his late-night talk show. Ever since, they’ve made the host conform to the occasion. As for the results, well, do you remember anything that Stewart or DeGeneres did in their hosting gigs?
I don’t think Eddie Murphy is necessarily a bad pick to host. He may very well mine a few laughs out of the ceremony that others might not. I just don’t expect him to make much of a difference, and I’m more excited to see him in Tower Heist this November. The trailer actually looks halfway decent.