It was always a slightly odd choice for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to hire director Brett Ratner to produce next year’s Oscars ceremony given Ratner, the “brains” behind the Rush Hour trilogy, is hardly regarded as an acclaimed talent.

However, for reasons completely removed from Ratner’s iffy oeuvre the Academy’s decision — presumably propelled by the same “appeal to the youth” logic that had James Franco and Anne Hathaway host last year’s ceremony — the decision has badly backfired.

Ratner today stepped down from the job after widespread uproar about a recent series of “did he really say that?” comments and slurs.

The director’s off-the-cuff remarks include informing Howard Stern that “I have huge balls” (dumb but forgivable) and, far worse, saying “rehearsal’s for fags” when asked about preparation for the Oscars ceremony after a screening of his upcoming movie, Tower Heist. The Hollywood Reporter compiled ten of Ratner’s trouble-making quotes, which make him sound like the kind of dunderhead who’d relish the opportunity to direct — funnily enough — something along the lines of Rush Hour 3.

Ratner issued a 400 word mea culpa which opened with the following paragraph:

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances. To them, and to everyone I’ve hurt and offended, I’d like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.

Tom Sherak, the Academy’s president, responded:

“He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself. Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent.”

Given the circumstances it would take a bold person to argue that Ratner jumped. He was almost certainly pushed.

Questions have subsequently been raised about whether Eddie Murphy, Ratner’s choice for ceremony host, will remain in the job, but rest assured that Murphy isn’t going anywhere. For one thing, the Academy wouldn’t want to look like it made two bad decisions; for another, Murphy would not be keen to pass up a gig that could boost his latest — and almost definitely not last — attempt at a career comeback.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey