Eddie Murphy out as Oscars host

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Eddie Murphy has withdrawn as host of the upcoming Oscars ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday.

The development comes a day after his friend, director Brett Ratner, resigned as the producer of next year's Academy Awards telecast after coming under fire for using a gay slur after a Los Angeles screening of his film "Tower Heist," starring Murphy and Ben Stiller. Brian Grazer stepped up to replace Ratner on Wednesday afternoon.

Alex Ben Block, editor-at-large for the Hollywood Reporter, said on the Patt Morrison show that people should have known the risk that accompanied appointing Ratner.

"I don't think we should have been completely surprised, and the funny thing is he might have survived that if he apologized and moved on. But going on the Howard Stern show and then discussing his sex life – it showed that this wasn't a guy that we could put anywhere near a microphone and trust," Block said Wednesday.

Block went on to say that Murphy's personality was just as unpredictable, and Oscar officials appointed the comedian because they wanted edgier material.

"I think what they wanted was to go younger, they were trying to go hipper, they were trying to move the Oscars in a new direction," he said.

Murphy said in a news release that he had looked forward to playing host at the Oscars but that he understands and supports "each party's decision with regard to a change of producers."

The New York Times reports that Tom Sherak, the president of the Academy, understands Murphy's decision. "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," Sherak said.

Sherak also said he hopes Ratner's comment, although offensive, may in the end raise some awareness about the inappropriateness of anti-gay slurs, according to the Times.

The Academy is now scrambling, the L.A. Times reports, to find a new host and producer for the show. It takes place in four months.

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