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It's official -- Eddie Murphy will host the Oscars

It could be fun: Casting Murphy to host the Oscars on Sunday, February 26, 2012 sounds as just-right now as it did to choose Billy Crystal two decades and two years ago.

Murphy has become the kind of performer who needs to rise to a challenge. Going "live" again may be as energizing for him as it was to do musical comedy and musical drama in "Dreamgirls."

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The coproducers are Don Mischer and Brett Ratner. Since Ratner just directed Murphy in the caper comedy "Tower Heist," he must think that Murphy is in the zone these days.

"Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever," Ratner said in a release. "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."

Murphy added, "I am enormously honored to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts from Hope and Carson to Crystal, Martin and Goldberg, among others."

In recent years, Murphy has jumped among a variety of personae -- I've called them Crazy Eddie (the inspired wild comic of "The Nutty Professor"), Mr. Ed (the family-film comedian of his "Doctor Dolittle" movies) and Fast Eddie (the dynamic, ad-libbing movie star who helped power "48 HRS." and carried the "Beverly Hills Cop" series on his back). Sometimes, as in "Dreamgirls" and "Imagine This," he's transcended categories.

He was robbed of an Academy Award for "Dreamgirls." But he's gotten over it.

Maybe he knows that as the Oscar host, he could bring every aspect of his talent to the fore -- and galvanize teen viewers who are apt to know him mostly as Donkey in "Shrek."

Just a suggestion: He might also give a shout-out to Jerry Lewis, who made and starred in the original "Nutty Professor" -- the basis of Murphy's most appealing crazy comedy in the last 15 years.

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