Comedian Eddie Murphy, whose movies range from Beverly Hills Cop to voicing the smart-mouthed donkey in Shrek, has been picked to host the Academy Awards in February for the first time in his career.
Oscars organisers are aiming for laughs in 2012, after this year’s performance by co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco fell flat with critics and many viewers.
The hosting job pairs Murphy – who began performing stand-up comedy at age 15 before joining TV’s Saturday Night Live – with director Brett Ratner, another Oscar first-timer best known for action movies and comedies.
In a statement, Murphy said he was honoured to be joining the likes of Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg among the many hosts of the show that next year will see its 84th edition.
“Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever,” Ratner said in a statement.
“With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February,” he said.
The move is a distinct departure from recent years in which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has focused on variety and elaborate song-and-dance numbers by hosts or co-hosts including Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.
Murphy, 50, made his feature film debut in 1982 with the buddy comedy 48 Hrs and went on to star in the Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor and Shrek franchises.
All told, movies in which he has performed have earned more than $7 billion at global box offices, according to the Academy.
The Oscars will air live Feb 27th on Foxtel and probably Nine.