A friend sent me an article from the New York Times reporting that Eddie Murphy is to be the next host of the annual presentation of awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This is bad news.

I do enjoy Eddie Murphy.  He is talented, attractive and funny.  I even enjoy his dirty mouth when role appropriate/persona appropriate.  But this annoucement signals the usual.  The awards presentation will again be a show, subjecting itself to ratings and reviews.  No one, not even a review mag. as intelligent as Entertainment Weekly and least of all Academy officials, seems to wonder WHY it need be a variety show with actresses who have never been on a stage before hobbling out in gowns and shoes they had not realized until this live moment were impossible for making that long walk to center stage.  (Kristin Scott Thomas is on a for a minute and a half and knocks them all out of the auditorium.)

Have you watched President Obama presenting the Medals of Freedom?  Taste, significance, class  —  and suspense.  The Oscars?  Wny not a tasteful awards presentation rather than a half-assed vaudeville show, featuring among other annual mistakes what A.O. Scott memorably called “the overproduced underwhelming renditions of the nominated songs” (NYT 2/24/08).

The current article about Eddie Murphy’s hosting ( by Michael Ciepley and Brooks Barnes, NYT 9/7/11) naively wonders if the ratings will decrease because Eddie’s recent films haven’t been all that successful.  Historically challenged, the authors also wonder about a comic host for a year of serious-minded movies.  When last was there anyone but a comic host making fun of the year’s best work, then expecting us to be admiring of same when the awards are finally gotten round to.

In 1959 Laurence Olivier was one of several hosts for the 1958 awards.  He was suave, gently amusing, respectful  —  and charming.  No one planning or working on the awards presentation seems to have learned anything from him.

He was not asked back.

NEXT POST October 13.

See you then.

Filmically yours, Rick


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