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Oscars 2012: Billy Crystal to the rescue!

The Academy broke out the Crystal after Oscar host Eddie Murphy and producer Brett Ratner stepped aside amid controversy

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When it was announced in September that Eddie Murphy would be hosting the 84th Academy Awards, many were excited to see if the man who once unleashed some of the best and most blistering stand-up comedy in history could still perform with a mic in hand. But sadly, like a sequel to The Adventures of Pluto Nash, it was not to be. While promoting his and Murphy’s action comedy Tower Heist, director Brett Ratner — who had been slated to produce the awards ceremony — made a series of ill-advised remarks, including one using an antigay slur during a Q&A, and explicitly discussed his sex life on Howard Stern’s radio show. Succumbing to public pressure, Ratner pulled out of his role as producer, and Murphy quickly followed suit, announcing that he was relinquishing his hosting duties. So with the Oscars less than four months away — and with the dull thud of last year’s attempt to attract younger viewers with cohosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway still reverberating — the Academy decided to throw in their chips with a known (and proven) quantity. Perennial favorite Billy Crystal swooped in on Nov. 10 after Murphy’s departure, agreeing to host his ninth Academy Awards ceremony, with megaproducer Brian Grazer filling Ratner’s shoes. A safe choice? Maybe. A good choice? Quite possibly. We’ll all see come Feb. 26 when Crystal takes the stage to do his (now pretty much expected) song-and-dance opener. Until then, he’s probably locked in a room somewhere trying to come up with words that rhyme with ”dragon tattoo.”