Old hand Crystal to host Oscars after Murphy drops out


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The Independent Culture

Comedian Billy Crystal put the Oscars ceremony back on track yesterday when he agreed to host next year's show instead of Eddie Murphy, who quit the role this week.

"Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions," the When Harry Met Sally star joked on Twitter yesterday.

Murphy bowed out on Wednesday in support of director Brett Ratner, who was forced to resign as the Oscars producer after controversy over his use of the term "fag" at the launch of his latest film, Tower Heist, which stars Murphy.

"I'm thrilled to welcome Billy back," Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said. "He's a comic legend and Oscar icon, and it feels good to have him back where he belongs."

The 84th Academy Awards ceremony, due to be broadcast next February, will be Crystal's ninth turn as presenter. Most Hollywood commentators expressed their support for Crystal's return to the post after a seven-year absence, though some said the appointment was an example of Hollywood relying on established favourites to boost ratings (audience figures for the ceremony fell by 9.1 per cent last year) instead of taking risks on new talent.

However, this time Crystal has a co-host – Kermit the Frog, who stars in the new Muppets film released next year.