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He's been a Beverly Hills cop, a nutty professo, and a talking donkey; now will Eddie Murphy become an Oscar host? According to Deadline, the 50-year-old comedian (an Oscar nominee for 2006's Dreamgirls) is high on the short list to host next year's Academy Awards ceremony. It's a name that would seem to have come out of nowhere -- so why is the Shrek Forever After star a top contender?
Answer: This year's Oscars are being produced by Rush Hour 3 director Brett Ratner, who also directed Murphy in the upcoming action comedy Tower Heist. Ratner was reportedly impressed with Murphy's performance in the film, as well as his extensive knowledge of cinema. Other producers feel that Murphy's live comedy experience would give him an edge. Plus, he's got two films coming out in the next six months -- Tower Heist and the drama A Thousand Words -- which could turn into something of a comeback for the actor. Deadline also points out that the Oscars have been striving for more diversity lately (which could be behind this year's puzzling decision to honor Oprah Winfrey).
The decision about Murphy could be made as early as this week, although there's one other name being batted around: good old reliable Oscar host Billy Crystal. The question is: after last year's Anne Hathaway/James Franco debacle, will the Academy choose to play it safe (eight-time host Crystal), or take a chance on Murphy? Franco and Hathaway proved that popularity does not equal good hosting -- so we say, give Murphy a shot! If he's half as funny as he was back in his SNL days, the show will be in good hands.