Okay, the second part is just a daydream I had while brainstorming a list of things that could convince me to watch the Oscars. But the first part is true: at the request of his friend, Oscars producer/Rush Hour director/man about town Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy will pull off whatever latex test prosthetic his in-house makeup artist was applying, and host America's most-watched awards show. (Ratner directed Murphy in the upcoming caper movie Tower Heist.)
Murphy succeeds Anne Hathaway and James Franco, so he may do well by contrast alone. (We ranked "award-show host" as the ninth best of Franco's nine careers; the bar is low.) Mostly, though, this may be interesting just because Murphy's been sort of weirdly out of the conversation for a long time now, while still never exactly going away. He's apparently made around $10 million on each of the four Shrek movies, so he's probably not too worried about his place in the zeitgeist, but he hasn't made a lot of movies overall, and as far as cultural impact, I think I've heard more in the last decade about Charlie Murphy. (At the very least, I've heard more people yell "Charlie Murphy!" in a Dave-Chappelle-as-Rick-James voice.)
So Eddie Murphy in a spotlight for three hours is more Eddie Murphy (raw) than the public's really seen in a while. How will this guy compare to his provocative '80s counterpart? If his Oscars-press-release quote is any indication, he's toned things down a bit:
"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."
Hard to picture that boilerplate coming from a guy in a shiny purple jumpsuit. (Okay, a publicist probably wrote it.) Regardless, will next year bring us a fresh look at a once-beloved performer? Or will this just be (ahem) another too-long, more miss-than-hit Oscar telecast? I'm going to contemplate this question as I listen to "Party All The Time" on repeat. I encourage you to do the same.