Who Should Host the Oscars Now That Eddie Murphy’s Out?

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Now that Eddie Murphy has followed producer Brett Ratner in dropping out of hosting the 2012 Oscar ceremony, the Academy is looking for a new host.

As most of the world knows by now, Ratner tendered his resignation Tuesday amid the backlash that he’d used an anti-gay slur. A day later, his “Tower Heist” star Eddie Murphy, whom he had handpicked to host the Oscars, also stepped down.

Hours after Murphy’s exit, Academy organizers drafted Brian Grazer, the Oscar-winning producer of “A Beautiful Mind,” to fill the slot vacated by Ratner.

But as Anne Hathaway and James Franco, who hosted last year’s ceremony, know all too well, it’s the person or persons out front who carry the weight of the show. So here are a few suggestions for a new Oscar host:

Billy Crystal: Bring back Billy! Crystal, who hosted the show eight times — only Bob Hope can top that — is the obvious safe choice. But at 63, the “When Harry Met Sally” star is not exactly a fresh face likely to lure the young viewers the Academy so desperately covets. Still, Crystal, who is equally liked by audiences and Academy members, could rescue the show by returning for the first time since 2004. And according to Moviefone, he’s interested.

Ricky Gervais: British comedian and “The Office” creator Ricky Gervais is the opposite of  safe, after offending virtually everyone at the 2011 Golden Globes. But he certainly got a lot of attention, something the Academy needs. Plus, he told Access Hollywood, he’d offer the Academy a deal if the Globes have him back: “Exactly, two for one offer. I can knock off 20 percent.”

Oprah Winfrey: Oprah Winfrey’s likability quotient runs high, and the woman has proved she knows how to host a show. With no daily talk show and her network flailing, Winfrey could also use the visibility.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler: While we’re thinking woman, why not consider two? Fey and Poehler have already proved they have great comic timing together. This is a no-brainer.

Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy: Another great comic duo, “Bridesmaids” co-stars Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy reunited recently on “Saturday Night Live.” Sasha Stone, editor of AwardsDaily.com, calls them the new Hope and Crosby, as in Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. “They could definitely have the ability to draw the higher ratings,” she said.

Jimmy Kimmel: Late-night hosts haven’t always been the best choice. Johnny Carson’s easygoing personality translated well the five times he hosted the Oscars. But David Letterman’s acerbic wit was a disaster. Jimmy Kimmel, who has by now proved himself as a top-tier late-night host, falls somewhere in the middleand with his post-Oscar specials considered a success, it could be Kimmel’s time.

Stephen Colbert: He has lent a comic hand to fellow Comedy Central fake news host Jon Stewart when Stewart hosted the Academy Awards, but perhaps it’s Stephen Colbert’s time to shine. In an election year, he’ll certainly have plenty of fodder.

Hugh Jackman: The most obvious heir apparent to Crystal, Hugh Jackman did a bang-up job when he hosted the show in 2009. There’s already a Facebook fan page promoting him as potential replacement.

Neil Patrick Harris: Another song-and-dance man, Neil Patrick Harris has already proved he has the chops to carry not one but two awards shows, the Emmys and the Tonys. Why not go for the trifecta, the Oscars? Also, as an openly gay celebrity, Harris could cleanse the Academy of the Ratner stain.

Who would you like to see host the Oscars?