Murphy on track to host Oscars

Comic stars in Oscar producer Ratner's 'Tower Heist'

Eddie Murphy appears on track to be the next host of the Oscars.

Buzz about the host of the 2012 Oscarcast went from 0 to 60 during the holiday weekend after a comedy news website, Humor Mill Magazine, reported breathlessly Saturday night that Murphy was set for the gig.

Although the report jumped the gun, sources close to the situation said the Internet chatter spurred AMPAS officials to unofficially settle on Murphy as host, an idea championed by Oscarcast producer Brett Ratner. Ratner is producing the 84th annual ceremony, to air Feb. 26 on ABC, with Don Mischer.

Murphy stars alongside Ben Stiller in Ratner’s “Tower Heist,” set for release Nov. 4. And Ratner has continued to talk up his hope of producing a “Beverly Hills Cop 4” with the comic.

After the surprising news broke, Oscar observers spent the weekend debating the desirability of Murphy fronting the big show. Some commentators (and there were no shortage of them) noted that Murphy’s standup comedy could be hard to translate to network TV since it often skews toward the raunchy. Others questioned whether Murphy still has the stature in the biz for the job.

Supporters noted that the thesp has been one of “Saturday Night Live’s” most well-regarded hosts, and pics like “Norbit” and “Shrek” continue to draw the kind of younger auds the Acad has been looking to cultivate. And Murphy has been an Oscar contender, drawing a supporting actor nomination for 2006’s “Dreamgirls.”

Reps for AMPAS, ABC and Murphy declined to comment.

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