An Open Letter To Eddie Murphy
I can call you Eddie right?
Oh, okay, Mr. Murphy.
I'll start off by congratulating you on being named host of the next Academy Awards. It's a big honor, but it's also massive challenge. Yesterday I wrote a little post expressing concerns, in the form of a "Pro & Con" list, to show some of these challenges.
Of course, now that it's official, I feel like taking a moment, as a professional internet butt-in-ski to offer some advice. Because let's face it, Norbit proved you haven't been getting much good advice lately.
1. HIT THE ROAD: When was the last time you performed in front of a live audience? Performing live on stage is not something you can just pick up, it's a muscle, and if it isn't worked out regularly it can get flabby. Film critic Christian Toto makes an excellent point using the case of Chevy Chase. The smooth confident performer from Saturday Night Live was long gone by the time he tried his disastrous talk show. He had lost his footing, it showed, and it stunk like six kinds of dead fish.
Now you have some extra time to prepare, so I suggest hitting the road. I'm not talking about a big-ass publicity soaked comeback tour. I'm talking about surprise appearances in small venues, with small audiences, preferably drunk and unfriendly to get your chops back in shape. You do not need anyone kissing your ass and telling you you're great right now, you need the truth, however brutal.
Nothing like a drunk tossing a bottle at your head to tell you that you need either a rewrite or to work on your delivery.
2. GET GOOD WRITERS: You can't do it all yourself, no one can, and the crowd that usually writes the Academy Awards don't seem to do it anymore either. You and the producers must go beyond the usual suspects and seek out fresh new voices that mesh well with your own.
This will take time, and it will take effort, but it's worth it.
3. REMEMBER THAT THE SHOW IS ABOUT THE MOVIES IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU: When you try to make it about you, like Chris Rock's rather weak attempt at "pushing buttons," Jon Stewart's smug condescension, David Letterman's attempt to turn it into the Late Show, or James Franco's plain indifference, you will always come out looking the worst for it.
Study the greats at the job, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal. See how they handled jokes, segues, and banter. Learn how they always brought the subject back to the movies and people being honored, and kept the damn thing moving.
Be humble, be honored to be their, and most important of all, remember that you are their to entertain.
4. SPEAKING OF BEING HUMBLE: Your reputation for being late and demanding precedes you, and you have to shake that. This show is a big opportunity to re-assert your identity as a comedy powerhouse, and stories on TMZ about you driving up the already bloated Oscar budget with the demands of you and your entourage, and if you end up late for a live TV broadcast, they're going to defrost Billy Crystal and replace you, and you'll probably never get a decent part in Hollywood ever again.
Hollywood can be very forgiving, if you deliver success, screw up, and they'll put the blade to you faster than you can say "O-tay."
So be humble, be on time, and be prepared.
Remember, a lot of people are rooting for you to succeed. Please don't disappoint us again.