From James Franco and Anne Hathaway to – officer Axel Foley? Believe it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially confirmed the rumors that Eddie Murphy will be hosting the 84th Annual Academy Awards.
Murphy, the 50-year-old star of the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise and “Saturday Night Live” alum, was rumored to be the top choice of Oscar telecast producer Brett Ratner. Not coincidentally, Murphy stars in Ratner's newest film, "Tower Heist." This will be his first time hosting the show.
"Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever," said Ratner in a statement. "With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February."
Ratner's co-producer Don Mischer added, "Eddie is a truly ground-breaking performer, whose amazingly diverse array of roles has won him a devoted audience of all ages. His quick wit and charisma will serve him very well as Oscar host."
"I am enormously honored to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts from Hope and Carson to Crystal, Martin and Goldberg, among others," said Murphy himself in a separate statement. "I'm looking forward to working with Brett and Don on creating a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre as we all come together to celebrate and recognize the great film contributions and collaborations from the past year."
Deadline.com started the buzz when they claimed Murphy was "in talks" for the spot over the weekend.
Giving Murphy the hosting gig represents a U-turn from last year’s “young and hip Oscars” strategy, as Hathaway self-consciously joked during February’s broadcast.
Franco, 32, and Hathaway, 28, were the youngest Oscars hosts in the show’s history and were supposed to bring freshness and younger viewers to the iconic awards show.
Despite the hype, critics largely panned their performances, while the telecast’s ratings tanked 12 percent in the key 18 to 49-year-old demo.
Franco, in particular, was savaged at the time for appearing to phone in his performance, though the “127 Hours” star later said he felt “trapped” by his writers’ poor material.
Murphy, an '80s comedies king, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Dreamgirls” in 2006.