Eddie Murphy quits as Oscars host after collaborator sparks 'homophobia' row


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The Independent Culture

And the award for most spectacular gaffe goes to... Brett Ratner.

Plans for February's Oscars have been thrown into sudden disarray after the host, Eddie Murphy, bowed out of the ceremony yesterday, following the decision by his long-time collaborator, Brett Ratner, to quit as producer in a spiralling controversy over his use of the derogatory term "fag".

Murphy, who worked with the producer on the upcoming comedy Tower Heist, announced his departure yesterday evening, a day after Mr Ratner quit.

He said in a statement that he had looked forward to playing host at the Oscars but that he understands and supports "each party's decision with regard to a change of producers".

The Academy President, Tom Sherak, bid Murphy farewell graciously. "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," Mr Sherak said.

Mr Ratner, the film and television director best known for action franchises such as Rush Hour and Prison Break, fell on his sword on Tuesday afternoon, issuing a written public apology for his "thoughtless" and "foolish" use of what he described as an "ugly and bigoted" anti-gay slur.

The resignation came after Mr Ratner was asked about preparations for February's ceremony at a Q&A session last Friday to promote Tower Heist. In what he later called a "hurtful" and "stupid" gesture, he turned to the microphone and declared: "Rehearsals are for fags".

His off-the-cuff remark sparked immediate outrage in the gay community, which not only represents one of Hollywood's most powerful lobbies, but is also a key demographic for broadcasters of the Academy Awards, who have suffered from declining ratings.

Controversy then morphed into a full-blown PR crisis when Mr Ratner repeated his use of the "f-word" on DJ Howard Stern's radio show. There, the conversation swiftly morphed into an explicit discussion of Mr Ratner's colourful sexual history and preferred bedroom techniques. At one point during the show, Mr Ratner discussed his ex-girlfriend Lindsay Lohan, revealing that he once forced the actress to visit her doctor to take an STD test when she was "very young".

Fans of Mr Ratner described the controversial comments as "Brett being Brett". But the storm of criticism over homophobia and misogyny was too much for the Academy. "He did the right thing, for the Academy and for himself," Mr Sherak said. "Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable."