Can the ''Raw'' comedian keep it on the up-and-up for the 2012 Oscars?

By John Young
Updated September 16, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

After this year’s James Franco and Anne Hathaway debacle, it’s not shocking that the Academy selected a comedian for next year’s ceremony. But who was predicting Eddie Murphy? Oscar telecast producer Brett Ratner recently directed the 50-year-old actor in the upcoming comedy Tower Heist, and casually offered Murphy the hosting gig in person over Labor Day weekend. ”I was told that 20 people would say no to me before I would get a yes,” says Ratner, ”but Eddie thought it was a great idea.” So will Murphy, whose last significant stand-up performance was 1987’s R-rated Raw, keep it clean for network TV? ”He was funny as hell in Tower Heist and didn’t say one bad word,” says Ratner. ”He’s going to surprise people.”