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Eddie Murphy Bails as Oscars Host

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On the still-cooling heels of producer Brett Ratner's exit from the 84th Academy Awards, host Eddie Murphy is bailing, too. It seems the producer and actor were a salt-and-pepper set that could not be delivered apart.

The Academy has accepted Murphy's withdrawal from the gig. Says Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak: "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well."

From Murphy:

"First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."
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Cinema Blend theorizes on Murphy's sudden departure: "Murphy was likely resistant to hosting the show in the first place, and agreed to do it only thanks to his working relationship with Ratner."

After Ratner's controversial inclusion of the term "fag" at a recent screening of "Tower Heist," the film in which he collaborates with Murphy, and his raunchy chatter on a recent broadcast of the Howard Stern show, Ratner opted to exit his role as producer of the venerable show and telecast. "With Ratner gone, the respect and visibility Murphy would get from hosting the show probably isn't enough to keep him on board," remarks Cinema Blend.

This raises a very pressing issue of course: Who will host the show on February 26, 2012? The ghosts of hosts past still haunt Hollywood, some that could entertain, and some (hi Anne Hathaway and James Franco) we hope won't darken the dais again anytime soon. Does anyone know if Neil Patrick Harris is available?