Eddie Murphy is dropping out as the host of the Oscars telecast, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said Wednesday.
"First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony," said Eddie Murphy in a statement. "I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the show's producer, Brett Ratner, stepped aside amid a storm of criticism over his use of an anti-gay slur.
Ratner issued a lengthy statement Tuesday apologizing for his behavior and explaining his resignation as producer of the 2012 Oscar telecast. The academy had announced in August that Ratner would produce the show with TV veteran Don Mischer, who helmed the 2011 broadcast.
"I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," said Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak.
"Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable," Sherak said in a statement on Tuesday. Sherak also added that Ratner "did the right thing for the academy and for himself."
Murphy and Ratner recently worked together on the film "Tower Heist," which debuted at number 2 at the box office this weekend.
"The hasty departures represented an embarrassing collapse of the Academy’s plans for the Oscar presentation and left it with just over three months to fill key roles for one of the most elaborately staged television shows of the year," reports The New York Times's Michael Cieply.
Fans on Twitter were buzzing after the news on Murphy's departure with hope that Billy Crystal will be available to take over hosting duties. Crystal, an Oscar favorite, has hosted the show from 1990–1993 and in 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2004.
The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.