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Billy Crystal returns as Oscar host after Murphy wimps out

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Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers) is taking over as host for the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in February after Eddie Murphy (Trading Places, Shrek) “bailed out” on Wednesday.

WENN reports that the former “Soap” star tweeted followers in typical Crystal-form saying, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.”

Academy President Tom Sherak heralded Crystal’s decision to emcee by describing the 8-time Oscar Awards host as “a comic legend and Oscar icon,” adding, “I’m thrilled to welcome Billy back to the Oscar stage.”

CBC reports that in early September, Academy Award show producer Brett Ratner also extolled Eddie Murphy’s virtues as the perfect frontman, saying, "Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever."

However, when Ratner became embroiled in controversy after making the statement “rehearsing is for fags” at a public screening, Ratner resigned as producer of the show – with Murphy announcing his own decision to quit the production as show host 1 day later.

In view of Murphy’s decision to leave, the Academy’s Sherak released a statement to the press saying, “I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well.

Meanwhile, there is a sense that Murphy's decision to quit goes against the actors/Hollywood credo of "the show must go on" -- especially now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has selected Oscar winning producer Brian Grazer (Frost/Nixon, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) to replace Ratner.

Did you know? USA Today reported that official ratings for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were down 10% from the previous year, bringing in a mere 37.6 million viewers.

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